House Divided: Father, son to meet in fall opener


Monte Coleman and his son, Kyle, have a friendly wager between them for Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s football opener at Arkansas State in Jonesboro.

“He has an Arkansas State license plate and of course I have a UAPB on mine,” Monte, the head coach of the Golden Lions said. “One of the bets is whoever loses will have to change cars for a month.

“I will be forced to drive the ASU plate and he will be forced the drive the UAPB one.”

The two will switch cars regardless, but the outcome of the game may determine how it is receive by their peers.

“I will be driving an ASU plate on the UAPB campus and he will be driving the UAPB one on the ASU campus,” Monte said.

Kyle is a junior linebacker for the Red Wolves.

“We have a little competition going on – as anybody would – but we both know who is going to win the game,” Kyle said. “We pick at each other anytime we get a chance to.”

Both schools won their respective conference championships last season. ASU, the Sun Belt Conference champions, finished with 10 wins for the second straight year and defeated Kent State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

The Golden Lions also won 10 games and defeated Jackson State in overtime in the SWAC championship in Birmingham, Ala.

“It was amazing,” Kyle said of his team’s bowl win. “It was like we won another championship.

“It is a great feeling to see all of your hard work pay off.”

Monte was in the crowd to see his son play.

“My family and I went there to see him play and it was great,” Monte said. “I was very proud of him, even though he only played on the special teams.

“To win two championships in two years is a milestone. I’m very proud of him.”

While Monte has been the head coach at UAPB since 2007, Kyle has to deal with three coaching changes in three years.

“That’s just the game of football,” Kyle said. “Got to be ready for the adversity that comes.

“It is not really as hard as people think it is. It is more of a mental thing.”

Monte said it has been a “transition” adapting to each new coach.

“Coach [Hugh] Freeze came into our home and recruited Kyle,” Monte said. “He had high hopes for Kyle and he knew Kyle.”

After Freeze led ASU to its first 10-win season in school history, he left to be head coach at Ole Miss. ASU then hired Gus Malzhan to replace Freeze.

“Malzhan doesn’t know who [Kyle] is and they were pretty much starting at the beginning once again,” Monte said.

At the end of the year, Malzhan left and was named the head coach at Auburn. Bryan Harsin was named the new head coach in the winter.

“One good thing about last year, is that Harsin kept the defensive coordinator,” Monte said. “It is a good thing he didn’t get a new coordinator again this year.”

But much like the coaching changes at ASU, Kyle has moved around a lot on the field, switching from receiver to safety and now to linebacker.

“I feel my skill sets are just very versatile,” Kyle said. “That is probably the main reason for the moves.

“I don’t really mind, as long as it helps the team wins.”

In 2012, Kyle played in all 13 games and recorded 25 tackles with one fumble recovery.

“I thought he was best suited as a free safety,” Monte said. “When they recruited him, he had never played a lot of defense.

“His primarily positions has always been on the offensive side. For whatever reason, they recruited him as a safety and I thought he played a real good safety.”

As a senior at Watson Chapel, Kyle passed for 1,659 yards, rushed for 661 yards and scored 32 total touchdowns. He was named an All-State selection for his efforts.

So far, Kyle said he is enjoying his time at linebacker.

“It has been real good and the coaches have been real helpful,” Kyle said. “It is a lot different than safety but I think I enjoy it more.

“I get more plays and get more action. I get to be more of a play-maker.”

Kyle’s father is also used to switching positions during his career.

Monte walked on at the University of Central Arkansas and became the first Bear in UCA history drafted into the professional football ranks.

He played safety his first three years in college before being converted to the linebacker position as a senior. He set a school record with 22 interceptions.

Kyle said he has some high goals for this season at ASU.

“Obviously we want to win another championship and go to a bigger bowl,” Kyle said.

Arkansas State and UAPB will square off on Aug. 31 at Liberty Bank Stadium in Jonesboro.