The benefit of having 13 starters returning this fall has allowed the Pine Bluff Zebras to fine tune their offense and defense schemes rather than trying to install something brand new.
“We are way ahead from where we were last year,” Pine Bluff head coach Bobby Bolding said. “… We have some old guys that have to fix some things but mostly it is teaching our new starters and helping them get better quicker.”
Pine Bluff won nine games last season and made it to the 6A state championship in Little Rock before losing 31-24 to El Dorado. But with eight offensive starters and five defensive starters returning, the Zebras are able to be ahead of schedule.
“There hasn’t been any surprises,” Bolding said. “They have done exactly what I expected.
“They are a year older and a year more mature.”
Pine Bluff will travel to West Memphis on Aug. 26 to face the Blue Devils in a scrimmage game beginning at 6 p.m.
“I hope to see them in great shape by then and make a minimual amount of mistakes,” Bolding said.
Bolding said as the season approaches, he hopes to be able to “gradually be able to do more and more as we get better at it.”
“We have installed everything or will by Thursday,” Bolding said. “Now it gives us a couple weeks to fine tune everything.”
Dutton is proud of Chapel’s progress
First-year head coach Jared Dutton has been pleasantly surprised with how well his newly acquired defense has progressed so far this summer.
“Our defense is really picking everything up,” Dutton said. “They are picking up our speed and terminology.
“They are doing a good job, flying around and knowing who to cover.”
He said of a lot of the progress has been due to the seniors who have stepped into their leadership role and been a second voice for Dutton.
“Every team needs a leader, besides the coaches,” Dutton said. “And the few seniors that have stepped into that role, that’s really going to help us.”
Dutton said seniors — Kristen Trammell, Darius White, Tyon Williams and Quinton Douglas — “have really stepped up.”
“They have taken the team by the horns and say ‘Follow me, I will get us there,’” Dutton said.
Dutton added that he wouldn’t be anywhere without the support and hard work of his assitant coaches and staff.
“I have a great staff and they are all doing a great job,” Dutton said. “… They have done a good job and show up every day.
“I give them a job and they do it.”
Baugh to lead White Hall
After finishing 8-3 last season — losing in the first round of the 5A state playoffs — the White Hall Bulldogs return 15 starters this year in hopes of trying to make a deeper run come November.
Senior Kirk Baugh, who has received an offer from Central Arkansas, passed for more than 2,000 yards and ran for more than 700 yards, accounting for 23 touchdowns last season. Baugh was a key component for the White Hall baseball team — hitting two home runs in the state playoffs, including a solo shot in the championship game.
White Hall opens the year with Class 7A Van Buren before traveling to Little Rock Christian and Sheridan.
Cardinals ready to return to their field
With the construction for the gymnaisum not scheduled to be completed for at least another week, the Dollarway Cardinals will have to continue to spend their practices at the junior high near Tyndall Park. “We don’t mind it too much, but it is a little bit of a stranglehold for some of the things we are trying to accomplish,” Dollarway head coach Cortez Lee said. However, Lee said his guys have not been too bothered by it.
“They are OK,” Lee said. “They just follow my lead. We aren’t too concerned with sitatuions like that, they are just ready to make a play.”
There won’t be any improvements made towards the football field, they “just don’t want anybody walking around, while those guys are finishing.”
Dollarway went undefeated in the regular season last fall and made it to the semifinals before losing to Booneville.
“The biggest surprise for me so far has been the knowledge reatined from the underclassmen,” Lee said. “We are ahead of schedule with some of the things we are trying to do.”
Depth a concern for Eagles
With just 11 players for the senior high, the biggest concern for the Ridgway Eagles this season will be its lack of depth.
“With us being down, the others have some holes to fill and we are beginning to do it,” Ridgway head coach Trent Young said. “I’m beginning to see some progress.
“We are trying to find depth at several positions and move people around. Luckily, some are flexible enough to fill two or three positions.”
Young said he is proud of the effort the kids have shown so far.
“They are working hard and trying to pick up the slack,” Young said. Ridgway’s two seniors and four juniors have been a big help towards the adjustment.
“They have shown good leadership so far,” Young said.