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Northside seemed to be in control of its match on Senior Night. The Lady Bears took the first two of three sets against North Little Rock and seemed to be in great shape in the fourth set, leading 15-11. But NLR came back to win that set, forcing a deciding fifth set. In a seesaw affair, the Lady Charging Wildcats scored the last three points to pull out the match, winning 25-22, 16-25, 18-25, 25-23, 15-13 at Kaundart-Grizzly Fieldhouse. The win by NLR (13-11, 8-4) also gave Southside the outright 6A-Central championship. Southside won its match Tuesday at Mount St. Mary. NLR and Northside (18-10-1, 8-4), which had been in sole possession of second place entering Tuesday’s match, are now tied for second along with Conway. Northside ends the regular season with road matches at Cabot on Thursday and at Southside next Tuesday. In the fourth set, the Lady Charging Wildcats rallied from that 15-11 deficit to eventually tie it. Then with the score tied at 23-all, they broke it scoring the next two points, forcing the deciding fifth set. NLR then jumped out to a 5-1 lead and later went up 6-2 in the fifth. But the Lady Bears rallied, scoring seven of the next eight points to go in front, 9-7. They led by two again, 11-9, on senior Grace Anne Hollenbeck’s kill. NLR answered with two straight points to tie it, and it remained tight the rest of the way. Northside went back on top, 13-12, on an NLR hitting error, but NLR scored the next three points to pull it out. Junior hitter Jada Lawson had a pivotal kill that gave NLR the lead for good, 14-13, and Northside was unable to return a NLR kill for match point. Northside raced out to leads of 7-2 and 8-4 in the opening set before NLR scored nine straight points to go in front. The Lady Bears rallied to tie it at 22-all before the Lady Charging Wildcats broke it with a 3-0 run to take the opener. In the second set, the Lady Bears got another early lead, 10-4 on Thea Bishop’s kill. They extended it to 16-8 on senior Quineisha Tillery’s block, then went up by 10 points, 21-11, on senior Taylor Pate’s ace. Hollenbeck capped the set with a kill, tying the match at 1-all. Northside jumped out to an 8-3 lead on the strength of some strong plays up front from Dynasty Andrews. Senior hitters Nicole Medlin and Lainey Logsdon helped extend that advantage with several kills, and Tillery’s powerful kill capped things to put the Lady Bears a set away from the win. But NLR denied the Lady Bears that win in their final match at home for the season, as 10 Lady Bear seniors were honored in pregame ceremonies. Medlin finished with 16 kills and four blocks, while Hollenbeck had 10 kills, Logsdon nine kills and Tillery six kills. Lexie Mosby, another senior, added 35 assists and Macie Grams had 16. Also, Pate and Hannah Smith each served four aces and Bishop had three aces of her own. Andrews had five blocks and five kills as well. Pate was the leader in digs with 30, with Mosby adding 14, Bishop with 10 and Smith finished with nine....

10/16/2019

Northside appeared to be in great shape to finally get its first 7A-Central win of the season, leading 21-7 at halftime of Friday’s game at Little Rock Catholic. However, the second half was a much different story. The Rockets scored 10 points in the third quarter to cut the Grizzlies’ lead to four; then with three minutes left, scored the game-winning touchdown on a 56-yard screen pass as Catholic rallied for a 24-21 win at War Memorial Stadium. Northside (2-4, 0-3) took an early 7-0 lead when Tyheen Prosise took a sweep around the right side for a 4-yard touchdown, followed by Slate Stanton’s PAT kick. Catholic tied the score at 7-all with a touchdown later in the first quarter. The Grizzlies regained the lead with 7:21 left in the opening half when quarterback Drey Norwood found Preston Baugh wide open at the Catholic 15. Baugh went in untouched to complete a 45-yard catch and run for the TD, and Stanton’s PAT made it 14-7. Northside then extended the lead to 21-7 with 1:08 left in the half on a 13-yard keeper from Norwood, one play after Norwood connected with tight end James Clayton for a 35-yard pass play. After Catholic went in front late in the game, the Grizzlies drove inside the Rockets’ 45, but on a third-and-1 play, a pass attempt was intercepted and Catholic ran out the rest of the clock. The Grizzlies return to Mayo-Thompson Stadium this Friday to take on Conway, which is coming off a home win against Cabot....

10/13/2019

Through his experience, Northside senior free safety Montay Parks has developed a knack for being around the ball. “I like that I can see the field and come down and make plays,” Parks (6-foot-2, 175 pounds), who has been a starter for the Grizzlies since his sophomore season, said. “I’m just taking what I know from years of experience and just executing good and playing good on the field.” That was especially evident in last week’s home game against Little Rock Central, when Parks intercepted two passes. “I was just reading the quarterback, watching his eyes and being in my zone picking up the ball,” he said. But Parks has picked off two passes before already this season, having turned the trick in Northside’s home opener last month against Van Buren. It may not be a surprise that Parks said his strong suits at free safety include tackling and intercepting passes. Along with his four picks, Parks now has logged 28 tackles on the season. He’s doing his part as well to pass on his ball awareness skills to the younger Grizzlies in the secondary. “I’m just teaching them everything I know and try to help them out on what they’re doing wrong,” Parks said. Northside coach Mike Falleur added another facet to Parks’ game that’s made him a much improved player since his sophomore season. “It’s been the confidence,” Falleur said. “He has a lot of confidence in what he does. “He’s been with coach (defensive coordinator Felix) Curry for three years, (Parks) does a great job with guys in the secondary and he’s just believing in what he’s coached and having that confidence to go out and perform what he’s been taught during the week.” Like Parks, Falleur believes Parks has the ability to be in the right place at the right time, especially in last week’s game and the game against Van Buren. “That’s a direct correlation of him doing what coach Curry teaches him to do, being where you’re supposed to be, reading the routes that you’re covering and the people that you’re covering and then making a play when you have the opportunity,” Falleur said. “I’ve seen a lot of guys where they’re right where they’re supposed to be and the ball’s thrown to them and they drop it, and Montay’s been able to go in there and snag some in some big plays for us and hopefully, he’ll continue to do that. “And he’ll have a big opportunity this Friday (at Little Rock Catholic), because they throw the football a ton.” The Grizzlies are in desperate need for a 7A-Central win after starting conference play 0-2, with both losses at home. They are hoping to begin the turnaround Friday with a visit to Little Rock’s War Memorial Stadium to face the Catholic Rockets. Catholic, which had won three straight games before falling to No. 1 ranked Bryant last week, has a different look offensively this season after having relied on the talents of tailback Samy Johnson the previous three years. “When they had Samy, they ran the ball a lot more than they threw it and you had to take care of Samy, which was a chore every time you played him,” Falleur said. “Now, they still run the football, but they’re going to throw it; the quarterback (6-2, 237-pound senior Jordan Edington, a converted defensive lineman) is a real good-sized kid and he throws the ball really well. ... Next to Bryant, they throw the ball as good as anybody we’ve seen.” Last week, the Grizzlies were without the services of both quarterback Drey Norwood and receiver Jackson King, who were out with injuries. Falleur said it’s likely both will be able to play Friday. Backup quarterback Matt Hollenbeck took over as the starter last week and threw for more than 270 yards and four touchdowns in the loss to Central. Falleur will likely rotate both Hollenbeck and Norwood against Catholic. “We plan to play both of them, and use them in different situations in different ways, so I would list them as co-starters,” Falleur said. “I don’t know who’s going to go in there first because we’re going to use Dreyden a lot on defense. ... We’re going to go through the week of practice and see who we feel like has got the best control of what we’re doing and in the game, but they’re both going to play.” Parks, an A and B student who has received attention from colleges like Northeastern (Okla.) State and Missouri Southern, knows there is a sense of urgency among him and the rest of the Grizzlies this week in attempting to avoid an 0-3 start in 7A-Central play. “We’re just going to do what we’ve been doing and play harder and hopefully come out with a win,” Parks said....

10/11/2019

To get to Thursday’s big 6A-Central showdown at Conway, the Northside Lady Bears had to take care of business at home first. Task completed. The Lady Bears got a decisive three-set sweep in Tuesday’s conference match against Mount St. Mary, winning 25-14, 25-11, 25-15 at Kaundart-Grizzly Fieldhouse. “I think we put it together and we worked hard,” Lady Bear senior Iesha Tillery said. “We worked as a team. ... We just came out ready to play and got a dub (win).” Northside coach Matt Waack concurred with those thoughts. “I feel like we came out ready to play (Tuesday),” Waack said. “We had some long talks about how in the past, how in this time of the season, our seasons tended to dwindle instead of push, so we’ve been talking about battling and fighting. “This is a conference match at home and we wanted to take this season by the horns and push hard here for this home stretch, because we had a tough schedule starting with (Mount St. Mary); they gave us all they wanted last time when we were at their place, so I was glad to see (the Lady Bears) come out (and respond).” Now, Northside (18-8-1, 8-2) is still within striking distance of landing a first-round bye at the 6A State Tournament later this month. On Thursday, the Lady Bears will travel to face Conway with second place in the conference at stake. A big reason for the Lady Bears winning on Tuesday was their ability to serve. “My favorite thing was we served the ball 73 times and only had three missed serves,” Waack said. “That’s huge for us; that’s been one of the things we’ve talked about a lot, and I want to serve tough and we are, we had 13 aces as a team, but not only getting aces but not giving away free points.” Senior Taylor Pate had six of those aces, while sophomore Hannah Smith added four, including several at key junctures. Smith closed out the opening set with back-to-back aces. Then in the second set, one of her serves skimmed the top of the net and dropped straight down with nary a Belles player in sight. That ace gave Northside a 7-1 lead. “I had about five of those (serves that just dropped straight down),” Smith said. “I did better than usual (Tuesday).” The Lady Bears started out strong in the first two sets. They jumped out to a 13-1 lead in the first set with senior Nicole Medlin making several kills. After the 7-1 lead in the second set, the Lady Bears built the lead to 12-2 on back-to-back kills from junior hitter Thea Bishop, who finished with nine kills. “I just focused on putting the ball where it needed to be and playing smart,” Bishop said. “Our defense was really good (Tuesday) and our serve-receive was really good.” Bishop also had an important kill in the third set during a pivotal 7-0 run to help turn a 4-3 deficit into a 10-4 Lady Bear lead. Northside then scored the final four points of the match, starting with a kill from senior Grace Anne Hollenbeck. Medlin finished with 11 kills and a .500 hitting percentage along with five blocks. The Lady Bears had 52 digs as a team, with Pate recording 19 and Smith having nine. Hollenbeck had five kills, while Quineisha Tillery had four kills and Iesha Tillery added three kills and two blocks. Lexie Mosby and Macie Grams recorded 25 and 10 assists, respectively. “I felt like our defense was (more involved) in the game and ready to play,” Waack said. “I also felt like our serve-receive was a lot better to get our offense in system, because that’s why Thea was able to produce because having Nicole in the middle, if we’re in system and they’re respecting Nicole and we can go out to Thea or Grace Anne, then they’re able to score.” And now, the Lady Bears can think about Conway, which defeated the Lady Bears at Kaundart-Grizzly in four sets on Sept. 17. “We’re going to work hard and hope to get a win,” Iesha Tillery said....

10/9/2019

Despite being shorthanded going into Friday’s game, Northside’s offense was able to move the ball and make some big plays. However, two second-half turnovers proved to be costly, as those set up two Little Rock Central touchdowns as the Tigers rallied in the second half to go in front. Central then held off a late Grizzly rally to pull out a 42-35 win in 7A-Central action at Mayo-Thompson Stadium. Northside was without its starting quarterback, Drey Norwood, and receiver Jackson King, both of whom were out with injuries. But the Grizzlies’ new signal-caller, senior Matt Hollenbeck, threw for 273 yards and four touchdowns. However, with Central trailing by seven points in the third quarter and Northside driving, the Tigers got an interception and it set up a touchdown to tie it at 28-all. Then late in the third quarter, Northside fumbled the ball right back to the Tigers, who needed seven plays to reach the end zone, as quarterback Lawson Gunn found tight end Bobbi Broadway in the end zone for an 11-yard TD with 9:51 left, giving Central (4-1, 1-1) a 35-28 lead. Central forced a punt on the next possession and extended the lead minutes later when tailback Samuel Franklin rambled in from 50 yards out. Franklin finished the game with 142 yards on 29 carries. Northside (2-3, 0-2) answered moments later when Hollenbeck connected with receiver Tyheen Prosise from 50 yards out with 4:50 remaining. Slate Stanton’s PAT cut it to seven points. The Grizzlies then forced a three-and-out and got the ball back on a punt. Northside was able to reach inside the Central 35 but turned the ball over on downs after an incomplete pass on fourth down with 48 seconds left. Hollenbeck finished the game completing 16-of-21 passes for 273 yards and four TDs. Prosise had eight catches for 174 yards and two TDs, including a 58-yard catch-and-run early in the second half to give Northside a 28-21 lead, and also added a rushing TD. Also for the Grizzlies, J.T. Thorne caught five passes for 73 yards and two TDs, while Seth Fields had 50 yards rushing on 14 carries. Gunn threw for 260 yards. T.J. Pennington hauled in 10 passes for 159 yards. The Tigers took the opening kickoff and scored in less than two minutes, taking a 7-0 lead. But Northside answered on its initial series, going 65 yards in seven plays to even the score. On a third-and-long at the Central 17, Prosise took a sweep around the left side and darted down the sideline for the Grizzly TD. Dagon Moore came on to kick the PAT, as the Grizzlies tied it at 7-all. Then, the Grizzlies forced a punt on Central’s next series. Northside went right back down the field, going 70 yards in six plays to go in front. Hollenbeck connected on a 17-yard pass in the left flat to Thorne. Thorne shook off a defender and went in for the touchdown. Stanton added the PAT for a 14-7 Grizzly lead with less than four minutes in the opening quarter. Later that quarter, Central had a drive going, but Northside defensive back Montay Parks stopped it by picking off a pass inside his own 20. Hollenbeck and Thorne hooked up for the second TD of the night early in the second quarter. On a third-and-8 from the Tiger 39, Hollenbeck tossed it to Thorne near the 25, and Thorne eluded a bevy of Central defenders and took it in for the six-pointer. Stanton’s PAT made it 21-7 with 9:11 remaining in the first half. But Central answered with two TDs before halftime to tie the score at 21-all....

10/5/2019

One group Northside coach Mike Falleur believed was as solid a strength he had on his team entering the season was at linebacker. The Grizzlies definitely possess talented linebackers, both inside and outside. They also provide experience and a willingness to find the football, or the player that has the football. “We have a lot of guys that crave contact, even throughout the game, so I feel like that helps us a lot, not being shy and not running away from the ball, but always just being on the level with the ball and ready for contact,” Chase Needham, one of those linebackers, said. “I feel like that’s helped us a lot this year so far.” Another common denominator about the linebackers, which consists of inside linebackers Stetson Van Matre (6-foot-2 205 pounds) and Glenn Brewer (6-0, 215), as well as outside backers Needham (6-1, 170), J.J. Mills (6-0, 175) and Conley Bone (5-9, 165): All five are seniors. “Those five seniors have been, more or less, starters for two years, so they’re really good players,” Falleur said. “They’re all very smart guys, they all play hard, they’re all very coachable and they just bring good experience and they listen to what their coaches tell them. They play hard, every play.” The Grizzly linebackers have even been able to withstand the loss of last season’s leading tackler, Anthony “Boo” Travis, who walked on at the University of Arkansas. “We feel like we’ve got a lot of experience coming back; all of us played last year, and we’re all seniors,” Van Matre said. “We know the defense like the back of our hand. “Boo was a great player, but we’ve got guys that have stepped up this year and we feel like we’re one of the strengths of the team and we just want to keep improving like that.” In fact, four of those linebackers are leading the team in total tackles. But Brewer, for one, doesn’t take that as a complete surprise. “We’ve got a great nose for the football; we’re always around the football no matter what. ... We’re not afraid to get to the ball and take care of our job,” Brewer said. “I feel like there’s going to be a lot of that (tackles) this year, especially because we’re not afraid of anything and we fly around to the ball a lot. ... We’re obviously among the first people there and I think we should be the first ones to stop and the first ones to make the play, and that’s what we’ve been doing and I expect to keep doing that.” Mills is the Grizzlies’ leading tackler with 34. “J.J., I feel like plays hard, fast and physical, all three (phases),” Brewer said. “He’s always one of those guys, he’s a ball-hawk, he’s always around the ball and he’s going to give you all he’s got no matter what. “Even if he’s not quite sure of what the offense is doing or the defensive scheme or whatever, he’s still going to give you a thousand percent, and I think that’s a really good quality that he has.” Brewer is currently second in tackles with 25, and led the team with 11 stops in last week’s loss to Bryant. “I feel like I’ve got a good nose for the football; I know where the ball is and where the play is the majority of the time,” Brewer said. “I also think I play quite physical and I’m always near (the opportunity) to tackle if it’s not a solo play.” Van Matre and Bone are tied for third in tackles with 22 apiece. “I would somewhat say my speed (is a strength); I’ve got quite a bit of speed at inside linebacker, especially around the edge, and also total overall awareness of like where the ball is, watching plays develop and seeing that before (the opposition does),” Van Matre said. Needham remarked that Bone, despite generally being undersized, doesn’t back down from anyone. “He’s not huge, but Conley’s one of those guys that will give you everything he has,” Needham said. “I’ve never seen a guy just sacrifice his body to make a play the way he has in my life. “He’s 170 pounds and he’ll go and hit a 300-pound pulling guard and not think anything about it.” As for Needham, he’s just glad to be back on the field. Last week was his first action of the season, having missed the team’s previous three games due to a preseason ankle injury. “I know what the offense is doing a lot of times before other people see it, so I would say just taking care of my responsibility every play and doing my job,” Needham said. “It’s always great to be back; it feels really good to be back in the groove and everything.” The same can be said for the linebackers as a whole, in terms of being in the groove. “We didn’t know each other as well coming into our sophomore year and we’ve all grown tighter and tighter ever since then,” Van Matre said. “Since we’re all in the same class, we all pretty much know what everybody’s going to be doing on the field and we know they’re going to take care of their responsibilities, and I just think that just helps us play a lot better.” The linebackers will be counted on to come up big again Friday as Northside faces a pivotal 7A-Central game at Mayo-Thompson Stadium against Little Rock Central, as both the Grizzlies and Tigers are seeking to avoid starting conference play at 0-2. “We just have to play physical; they have a running back (Samuel Franklin, a 5-10, 180-pound junior) that’s really talented and we know we have to get him to the ground,” Van Matre said. “He’s kind of the motor to their offense. “They also have a deep, big and physical offensive line, so we’re going to have to focus on stopping the run for sure, and I think that’s our primary goal.” Central won all three of its non-conference games before falling to North Little Rock in the 7A-Central opener. However, Falleur said the Tigers were very impressive even in that loss. “They get after it and they’re big and physical and they run very well; they’ve got a tailback (Franklin) that may be as fast as anybody we’ll see all year,” Falleur said. “So saying that, it’s a challenge for us; we did not play very well (against Bryant), we’ve got some things we’ve got to continue to work on and we’ve got to continue to get better and we’ve got to play a very good football game Friday to have a chance to beat Little Rock Central.” ...

10/4/2019

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