Tanner Atwood (left) and Clay Cannon hoist Hayden Scallion after White Hall won the 5A baseball state championship Friday at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville. (Pine Bluff Commercial/Ralph Fitzgerald)
In his first year as the White Hall athletic director, Craig Dupuy did not have much to worry about other than travel situations for his athletic programs during postseason play.
The White Hall baseball and softball teams each won the Class 5A state titles this past weekend, which capped off quite the successful athletic season for the school.
The White Hall football team had its first undefeated conference football season since 2006, won the 5A-Southeast Conference and made it all the way to the semifinals. The White Hall girls basketball team made the state tournament for the first time in over five years, according to Dupuy.
Then in just its second year of existence, the White Hall boys soccer team won the 5A-Southeast Conference and made it to the second round of the state tournament. The girls soccer team also made it to the second round of the state tournament.
So Dupuy could not have asked for a better year to become White Hall’s athletic director.
“I knew our kids were good kids and the coaches did a good job, but whoever thought we would end up with this much hardware?” Dupuy said. “To win one championship is great. To win two is outstanding.”
Mike Vaughn’s football team got the ball rolling with the Bulldogs’ successful season. While he knew he had a pretty good senior class, he was not planning for an undefeated conference season.
“A lot of them had played for two or three years and I knew that we could win some ballgames,” he said. “You never think that far ahead, though, and it just happens.”
White Hall baseball coach Skip Carr said the football team set the tone for the year.
“Football kind of set the bar pretty high for White Hall this year,” he said. “Some of the same kids went on to play basketball and moved on to baseball and kept that competitiveness going all year.”
Part of the reason for the success is because the school had so many players participate in multiple sports. Senior Nathan Lee was the starting quarterback, the starting point guard and a starting outfielder. Senior Haley Baugh was a starting forward on the basketball team and the state title game MVP for the softball team, and that just names a couple of the players.
“That’s one of the things I talked to the coaches about and that was to encourage the kids that wanted to do more than one sport,” Dupuy said. “Sharing that athlete did nothing but improve both teams.”
The teams supported each other, too. All of the softball team was cheering on the baseball team during the state title game. Carr said all but four baseball players were there for the softball state championship game because of other commitments.
“It was never ‘Do we have to stay?’ It was always ‘what time is the game?’” Carr said. “It took all of the fans and the support for us to win that game.”
With such a successful year, the future looks bright for the White Hall athletic program.
“It excites the kids in school and the community,” Vaughn said. “Kids who don’t participate see this and they want to now. It also gives us more confidence and that helps you win championships.”