‘Ten’ for 5
North Little Rock running back Altee Tenpenny heads towards the goalline in last Friday’s game at Searcy. Tenpenny rushed for four touchdowns and also added a kickoff return for a touchdown in a blowout win. (Photo by Ed Knowlton)
The North Little Rock Charging Wildcats are steamrolling the competition in their new league. The Searcy Lions were no different.
After a relatively slow defensive start, the Charging Wildcats found their stride and came away with a 42-13 win.
Searcy took the opening kick and drove down the field and appeared as if they would get the game’s first touchdown, but the defense held the home team to a field goal.
Up 3-0, the Charging Wildcats ran their Wall Return play and after taking a handoff from Juan Day, Altee Tenpenny ran 98-yards for his first of his five touchdowns on the night. Deion Tidwell scored North Little Rock’s sixth TD.
“I was real proud of the way we played,” said head coach Brad Bolding. “We played well.”
Bolding said special teams played well all night and were “solid”.
Bolding did say, however, that he was concerned offensively with a few missed assignments on the offensive line.
“They missed things on plays that we run quite a bit,” said Bolding. “We shouldn’t be missing assignments like that.”
The Charging Wildcats are at home this week against Marion, a team that the Charging Wildcats should be favored heavily.
“It really doesn’t matter who we play,” said Bolding. “We go out on Friday nights and we don’t look ahead, we don’t look back. We just work within the week to get better at executing our game plan.”
Bolding said Marion is similar to Cabot in their style of play, but in some ways could be better than the Panthers.
“I think the way their offensive line comes off the ball, they could be better than Cabot,” Bolding said, “and they have a pair of running backs that may be just as good.”
Bolding emphasized that Marion was not a “lookover team”, and that if his club did not come out focused, they could get surprised.
“We have a target on our back,” Bolding said.
NEW LEAGUE SAME RESULTS
The Charging Wildcats are getting used to their new conference.
Gone are matchups of the old 7A Central with the likes of Conway, Bryant and Little Rock Central. The 7A/6A East have West Memphis, Jonesboro and Searcy.
The Arkansas Activities Association moved the Charging Wildcats east during this two-year cycle.
Bolding said who his team plays doesn’t really matter much to him.
“We’ll play wherever they tell us,” Bolding said. “I know we’ll play on Friday night somewhere.”
So far the Charging Wildcats are whipping through their new competition. Thus far, the Jonesboro Hurricanes have proven to be the toughest test for what is arguably the most talented team in the state.
“It’s different opponents and different places,” Bolding said.
The Charging Wildcats still managed to get a glimpse of Conway when they met in their preseason scrimmage in August.
Bolding said with the way the conferences are aligned geographically and new schools growing into the 7A/6A classification, that their membership in the East may be a one-cycle occurence.
“Schools like Van Buren and Siloam Springs are probably taking a beating as far as travel and everything goes,” Bolding said. “So things may change up pretty quickly.”
The Charging Wildcats have played 7A/6A competition all year with the exception of week two’s trip to Longview, Texas. Their week one opponent was Lake Hamilton, a recent 6A state runner up and Pine Bluff, a team that is considered to be a 6A title contender this season.
PERSISTENCE, PRECISION PREACHED
Bolding is not swayed by what people are saying about his Charging Wildcats thus far.
In fact, Bolding feels like his team can be even better, and has done everything possible to drive that point home.
“We preach it every day,” Bolding said. “We told them we were going to knit pick, and as the season has gone on it’s probably gotten worse.”
The Charging Wildcats are looking to not only be considered an elite team, they want to prove it. That is why if he seems more focused on his defense’s slow start the past two weeks.
North Little Rock has fallen behind in both of the last two weeks against Jonesboro and Searcy, and Bolding says he doesn’t want it to become a habit.
“If we are going to be an elite team,” Bolding said, “then we can’t wait before we decide we are going to come out and play.”
The Searcy Lions managed two field goals last week with an Altee Tenpenny 98-yard kick return in between.
“After that it was like they (the defense) said ‘that’s it’,” Bolding said. “We need to play every minute like we played later in the game. That part I want to fix.”
Bolding said his team has lacked energy, and focus in the opening minutes of the last two games, and he wants to see more enthusiasm.
“We don’t have to be jumping around and loud coming onto the field,” Bolding said. “I just want us to have energy and execute our game plan the way we are capable.”