A new day dawns over Bangui…and a new year too. Freddy Ndo reckons he is lucky to be here to see it.‘Thanks to God we have seen this new year. And we are alive today because many people have lost their lives during the last conflict’ Freddy Ndo, fishermanThere was little partying in this city on New Year’s Eve. It’s a dangerous place after dark – a direct result of almost three years of chaos triggered by a coup. But this week Freddy Ndo and thousands of others took a key step to revive their country. They defied security worries, to vote for a new president and a new Parliament.As of early New Year’s Day, voters were still awaiting the result. But they’re hoping 2016 does indeed mean a new era – a turning point for the CAR.“I want the new president to bring all the people together. And we that the various peacekeeping troops for doing their best to bring stability and peace in our country,” Freddy Ndo“We have faced many problems in the past three years in this country. And we want the new elected president to do his best so that the country will not get these kinds of problems again.” Gabriel Karembi, fishermanElectoral officials are calling for calm.‘We have noticed that some of the media and candidates have began to speculate about the results of the vote thorough the internet and social media. But the electoral commission is the only institution that will announce and make public the official results. This kind of practice is a violation of the electoral code of conduct.’ Julius Rufin Ngouade-Baba, General Secretary, Electoral CommissionSo far, there’s been little of the troubles many feared would disrupt the vote. And only minor problems reported on the day itself. The biggest test though may come with the result, whether it’s accepted by the losers.
MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa (April 8) – Close finishes in all four feature events highlighted season-opening Frostbuster action Friday at Marshalltown Speedway.Kyle Brown took the early lead and then held off late pressure from his father David and Josh Gilman on his way to the Xtreme Motor Sports IMCA Modified victory.Kyle Brown, who was inches behind Nick Roberts at the completion of the first lap, inherited the lead when Roberts spun a short time later to bring out the caution.Brown took advantage on the restart and built a half-straightaway lead by the time David Brown made his way into second on the sixth of 25 laps. He maintained that advantage until he encountered lapped traffic with 11 laps to go.Traffic was no longer a factor after caution slowed action a final time with four laps remaining. The straightaway Gilman trailed the leader also disappeared.When racing resumed, Kyle Brown held off Gilman by less than a car-length to take the victory with David Brown close behind. Tim Ward raced from 18th starting to fourth.The $1,000 win was Kyle Brown’s third of the season and second in two events during the extended Frostbuster Week.Damon Murty also inherited the early lead in the IMCA Sunoco Stock Car headliner. Although he started in row three, Murty took over the pole position following a first lap caution that shuffled the lineup.Murty held serve throughout two more stoppages while Donavon Smith worked through the field after starting in the sixth row.Smith pulled alongside Murty as the leaders exiting turn four on the final lap. He surged past Murty at the stripe to steal the victory, his career 99th in the division.Randy Roberts took top honors in the Karl Chevrolet Northern SportMod feature. Roberts battled three-wide with early leader Tyler Soppe and Sam Wieben before breaking free on lap eight.Wieben chased Roberts through traffic, but was unable to mount a charge as Roberts held on for victory in the caution-free event.Dustin Elliott was victorious in the IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stock 20-lapper. Elliott battled Nathan Ballard and Benji Irvine before Eric Stanton made a late bid for the lead.Elliott was able to hold on by less than a carlength to take home the win.Feature Results Modifieds – 1. Kyle Brown, State Center; 2. Josh Gilman, Earlham; 3. David Brown, Kellogg; 4. Tim Ward, Gilbert, Ariz.; 5. Ronn Lauritzen, Jesup; 6. Tad Reutzel, Burt; 7. Scott Davis, Madrid; 8. Cayden Carter, Oskaloosa; 9. Ricky Thornton Jr., Chandler, Ariz.; 10. Troy Cordes, Dunkerton; 11. Trent Jackson, Marshalltown; 12. Bryce Garnhart, Shannon, Ill.; 13. Nick Roberts, Des Moines; 14. Mike Mueller, Rosendale, Wis.; 15. Scott Simatovich, State Center; 16. Joel Rust, Grundy Center; 17. Vern Jackson, Waterloo; 18. Brandon Brinton, Nevada; 19. Racer Hulin, Laurel; 20. Tom Berry Jr., Medford, Ore.; 21. Josh Foster, Newton; 22. Jacob Murray, Hartford; 23. Lance Mari, Imperial, Calif.; 24. Gatlin Leytham, Ames; 25. Zach Rawlins, Newton.Stock Cars – 1. Donavon Smith, Lake City; 2. Damon Murty, Chelsea; 3. Steve Meyer, Grundy Center; 4. Tyler Pickett, Boxholm; 5. Jay Schmidt, Tama; 6. Donavon Nunnikhoven, Sully; 7. Jared Daggett, Marshalltown; 8. Scooter Dulin, Cedar Rapids; 9. Kevin Balmer, Garwin; 10. Russell Damme Jr., Waterloo; 11. Curt Balmer, Green Mountain; 12. Cody Frerichs, Howard Lake, Minn.; 13. Jeff Wollam, Marshalltown; 14. Michael Bilyeu, Indianola; 15. Jerry Schipper, Dike; 16. Ben Walding, Des Moines; 17. Don Vis, Marshalltown; 18. Todd Reitzler, Grinnell; 19. Trent Murphy, Scranton; 20. Austin Evens, Independence.Hobby Stocks – 1. Dustin Elliott, Marshalltown; 2. Eric Stanton, Carlisle; 3. Benji Irvine, Stanley; 4. Derek Hodges, Des Moines; 5. John Watson, Des Moines; 6. Garrett Eilander, Newton; 7. Justin Wacha, Vinton; 8. Justin Lichty, Waterloo; 9. Gene Nicklas, Grinnell; 10. Dustin Graham, Boone; 11. Gary Pfantz, State Center; 12. Dustin Filloon, Toledo; 13. Jack Phillips, Mitchellville; 14. Shawn Kuennen, Hazleton; 15. Clint Nelson, Baxter; 16. David Simpson, Ankeny; 17. Randy Byerly, Tipton; 18. Brandon Pitts, Ames; 19. Brian Derry, Boone; 20. Travis Merical, Marshalltown; 21. Kyle Dulin, Brandon; 22. Craig Lovig, Marshalltown; 23. Nathan Ballard, Marengo; 24. Tim Barber, Story City; 25. Greg Gilbert, Osceola; 26. Justin Hanson, Hawkeye; 27. Kevin Derry, Indianola; 28. Andy Peck, Newton.Northern SportMods – 1. Randy Roberts, Boone; 2. Sam Wieben, Dysart; 3. Tyler Soppe, Sherrill; 4. Carter VanDenBerg, Oskaloosa; 5. Jake McBirnie, Boone; 6. Zach McKinnon, Hatley, Wis.; 7. Chase Rudolf, Norwalk; 8. Johnathon Logue, Boone; 9. Adam Armstrong, Beatrice, Neb.; 10. Kyle Olson, Cedar Rapids; 11. Tony Olson, Cedar Rapids; 12. Cory Rose, Boone; 13. Ethan Braaksma, Newton; 14. Clint Luellen, Minburn; 15. Austin Luellen, Minburn; 16. Brandon Spagner, Crete, Neb.; 17. Michael Murphy, Jefferson; 18. Shawn Cooney, Des Moines; 19. Nate Whitehurst, Mason City; 20. Josh Appel, Mason City; 21. Neil Follett, Conrad; 22. Ryan King, Montour; 23. Jared Van Deest, Holland; 24. Curt Hilmer, Dysart.
Williams is the best lineman on the board, despite his stature that has scouts questioning whether he’s an NFL tackle or guard. The three year starter at Alabama won 2 national championships and thrived in both pass-blocking and punished defenders as a run-blocker. The first-team All-American has the strength, speed, and versatility to slide into any guard or tackle spots and start immediately. A Vikings team that struggled to move the ball all year on the ground should see some improvements by adding Williams. Analysis: After an incredibly disappointing campaign which saw prized free-agent quarterback Kirk Cousins struggle, the Vikings front office needs to fix a few minor holes on an otherwise strong roster. The offensive line couldn’t open up holes for the running game, and struggled in pass protection. The defense continues to age, and might need a playmaker or two on either the defensive line or on the second level at linebacker. With Anthony Barr and Sheldon Richardson possibly leaving this next summer, do the Vikings draft a contingency plan? Analysis: There is a genuine question of whether or not quarterback Marcus Mariota can be a starter in the NFL at this point. After a season playing with an elbow injury that inhibited his ability to hold or throw a football, Mariota enters the final year of his contract. In a make-or-break year, the question with this pick is whether to bolster a defense that lost Brian Orakpo to retirement, or to draft a pass-catcher to complement Corey Davis. Delanie Walker’s injury complicates things. TE Noah Fant would look great in Nashville, but so would N’Keal Harry or AJ Brown. On defense, the Titans could find the MIKE linebacker of the future in Devin Bush. 18. Minnesota Vikings (8-7) The Starkville, Mississippi native could be exactly what Mariota needs in a prove-it season. A productive receiver in college, Brown projects as a very strong slot receiver or outside guy. Brown looks a lot like Jarvis Landry, a guy who can play outside, but is most dangerous working the middle of the field out of the slot. Brown isn’t the fastest receiver, but he is the best contested pass-catcher in the class by a mile, and has elite yards-after-catch ability. Brown will easily fill the number 2 receiver hole, and if Delanie Walker can return from his devastating leg injury, the Titans offense could be poised for a big year with Mariota behind center. Stats: 24 games – 49 solo tackles – 71 total tackles – 1.5 tackles for loss – 8 INT’s – 19 passes defended Pick: OL Jonah Williams (Alabama) Stats: 36 games – 189 receptions – 2984 yards – 15.8 YPC – 19 TD’s 19. Tennessee Titans (9-7) Well, this has been a pretty awful summer for the Steelers. After being embroiled in a heated contract dispute with star running back Le’Veon Bell, the Steelers found themselves with another unhappy player in star wide receiver Antonio Brown. With Bell departing for free agency and Brown being traded to the Raiders for a 3rd and 5th round pick, the Steelers can finally move past all the drama that hindered them this past season. The biggest need is at cornerback after whiffing on 2016 first-round pick Artie Burns. But there could be a possible need at linebacker with Ryan Shazier still out indefinitely. Devin Bush and Deandre Baker are still on the board, so there are choices for the Steelers here. The three-year starter at Ole Miss stepped into the vacancy left by All-American Laremy Tunsil and produced wonderfully for the Rebels. The first team All-SEC, 2nd team All-American protected Rebel quarterback Jordan Ta’amu all season, and helped lead the Ole Miss offense to rank in the top 25 in offense in the 2017 and 2018 season. He didn’t allow a sack all year, and only allowed 10 pressures on the quarterback. Keep in mind, this was a lineman on a bad SEC team going up against the likes of Alabama, Auburn, LSU, and Mississippi State. Little immediate starts at either of the tackle positions for the Panthers. Little is arguably the most talented, yet least refined offensive tackle that has come out of the draft in recent years, but if Little can get coached up a bit and embrace his athleticism, he could be an All-Pro within two years. In order to keep Newton upright, the Panthers need to make the wise investment and draft Little. 20. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-6-1) Needs: DL, LB, CB, Safety, WR Welcome back for Part IV of our 6 part series, as we predict what happens at this year’s NFL Draft. Free agency legal tampering period opens today for the NFL, and some moves have already been made, with Oakland reportedly signing former Patriots offensive lineman Trent Brown to the biggest OL contract in league history. Defensive lineman Malik Jackson has reportedly signed with the Eagles, and Eric Weddle seems to be heading to the Rams on a 2 year deal. With that in mind, lets jump ahead to the draft and see what picks teams will make to fill holes in their lineup. You can find the first three segments here: Part I, II, III. Analysis: The Browns of old are gone. John Dorsey’s second year at the helm looks a lot brighter than the team he took over last year. Let’s briefly recap what they’ve done: Analysis: For a team that lost 6 of its last 7, and realistically could have made the playoffs if quarterback Cam Newton was healthy, this team has quite a few holes to fill. The offensive line doesn’t look too strong, given the injury struggles in 2018. Ryan Kalil’s retirement and the general declining play of the rest of the unit contributed to a season where Newton was beat up quite a bit. In addition to a weak offensive line, Newton lacks impact players that can change the dynamic of the offense. No offense to Devin Funchess, but its clear that Greg Olson is the most dangerous weapon for that offense when healthy. Defense is a problem too. A struggling pass defense and lack of pressure on the quarterback are needed. Linebacker Luke Kuechly is only one marquee defensive player on the Panthers, and he needs help in order to buoy this defense. 17. Cleveland Browns (7-8-1) 16. Carolina Panthers (7-9) Added: Baker Mayfield, Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb, Damarious Randall, Denzel Ward, Kareem Hunt, Antonio Callaway, Olivier Vernon Pick: A.J. Brown (Mississippi) Pick: CB Greedy Williams (LSU) Pick: OL Greg Little (Mississippi) The Thorpe Trophy runner-up, given to the best secondary player in the country, was pretty impressive in his second campaign as an LSU Tiger. After finishing 4th in the NCAA in 2017 in interceptions, the Shreveport, Louisiana native was rarely thrown at in year 2. Williams only registered two interceptions in 2018, but opposing quarterbacks rarely targeted Williams, and had on average a 41.0 quarterback rating when targeting him. What really makes Williams such a tantalizing prospect is his length. He’s 6’2″, 185 lbs, and ran a 4.37 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine. The Second team All-American should fill in the cornerback slot opposite Ward, giving the Browns arguably the best young secondary in the league that should lock opponents down on a weekly basis. Arizona Cardinals – QB Kyler Murray (Oklahoma)San Francisco 49’ers – DE Nick Bosa (Ohio State)New York Jets – DT/DE Quinnen Williams (Alabama)Oakland Raiders – EDGE Josh Allen (Kentucky)Tampa Bay Buccaneers – QB Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State)New York Giants – DL Rashan Gary (Michigan)Jacksonville Jaguars – WR D.K. Metcalf (Mississippi)Detroit Lions – EDGE Montez Sweat (Mississippi State)Buffalo Bills – TE T.J. Hockenson (Iowa)Denver Broncos – QB Drew Lock (Missouri)Cincinnati Bengals – DL Ed Oliver (Houston)Green Bay Packers – LB Devin White (LSU)Miami Dolphins – DL Clellin Ferrell (Clemson)Atlanta Falcons – OT Jawaan Taylor (Florida)Washington Redskins – DE Brian Burns (Florida State) Needs: OL, DL, LB Needs: QB? , OL, DL, CB, Safety, WR Needs: LB, WR, TE, QB? Pick: CB Deandre Baker (Georgia) So what do they need to take the next step? Newly minted head coach Freddy Kitchens probably doesn’t need to much help offensively at this point (unless they find an offensive lineman they like), so what about on defense? The defensive line could use a secondary weapon to accompany Miles Garrett, and another cornerback opposite Denzel Ward. Personally, I think Dorsey either goes corner or offensive tackle here. Stats: 36 games – 83 solo tackles – 116 total tackles – 4.0 tackles for loss – 1 sack – 7 INT’s – 23 passes defended – 2 forced fumbles – 1 fumble recovery The Steelers get a do-everything cornerback that should solidify a weak Pittsburgh secondary. The eye-popping stats that jumps out is the number of tackles that Baker registered in his 3 years at Georgia. Baker thrives as both a run-stuffing force at the line, as well as thriving as a defender in one-on-one scenarios. The difference between Baker and Greedy Williams is that Baker isn’t as strong a pass coverage guy, but is stronger towards the line of scrimmage. Baker is a hammer that willingly helps in run defense, but isn’t as strong while defending the pass. This is a really solid pick for the Steelers, and should play well opposite Joe Haden as Pittsburgh looks to get back on track this summer. That is it for this segment. Keep a close eye on the next segment, which should be out by Wednesday. 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