First-year Watson Chapel head coach Jared Dutton is still trying to find his bearings as the season quickly approaches.
“It has been a process with the transition,” Dutton said following a practice on Monday. “We are taking it one day at a time and we are trying to get better.”
Dutton said not only does he want to improve these kids on the field, but off the field as well.
“That’s my goal,” Dutton said. “To make sure these kids are on top of their grades and be good citizens.
“And at the same time, we are trying to win a conference championship.”
Dutton was the head coach at Watson Chapel Junior High for two seasons. Last season, he led the Wildcats to a River City championship and a 10-0 record — defeating Central Arkansas Christian in the championship game.
After coaching the senior Wildcats for the past six seasons, George Shelton decided to retire earlier this year. Under Shelton, the Wildcats finished 5-5 last fall and 5-2 in the 5A-South, although a win in their conference finale would have earned them a share of the title.
“I don’t think we’ve won a conference title since 2010,” Dutton said. “So that’s our goal right now.”
Dutton said the biggest challenge has been just adjusting to the “process of daily activities.”
“Making sure everybody is eligible and the administrative part (of being a head coach),” Dutton said. “… It is going to be a challenge, but it is nothing that I can’t handle.”
Watson Chapel will host a three-team scrimmage between Forrest City and Star City on Aug. 26 beginning at 5:30 p.m. Each team will play one half so that by the end of the night, every program would have played a whole game.
“My goal on that is to be able to have two or three groups who can go out there and execute,” Dutton said. “It is one thing to practice, but it is another to do those same things under the light.
“… It is going to be big for us to see who can do what.”
On the field, the biggest challenge has been getting the kids to completely “buy-in.”
“It is tough coming in (as a new head coach),” Dutton said. “Some of the players might not be sure of some of the things I’m putting them through, but it is nothing that I haven’t done myself.”
Dutton played for Buck James while at Star City, where he graduated from in 2004.
“I know what it takes to win a conference championship,” Dutton said. “I hope that they help us achieve a state championship.
“That’s the ultimate goal. And the key to accomplishing that is hard work.”
Dutton said he is excited for this fall.
“I’m ready to see these young men put it all together,” Dutton said. “I want see how the hard work is going to pay off.”