NORTH LITTLE ROCK — Bryant head coach Paul Calley and his family was sitting at a table with several other[more] coaches and theirs Monday night at the 2011 Farm Bureau Awards at the North Little Rock Chamber of Commerce and the nearby Argenta Community Theater.
Among those at the table were the other two nominees for Coach of the Year in the 7A/6A classifications, Jonesboro’s Randy Coleman and Fayetteville’s Daryl Patton, who led his team to the Class 7A State championship in an upset win in overtime against the unbeaten Bentonville Tigers.
When it came time to announce the selection, Calley, like many others, expected his old friend Patton, to be the one to have his name announced. Instead, however, it was Calley.
“They referred to me as the Susan Lucci of the Hooten Awards because I’ve been nominated before and never won,” he quipped, referring to the actress who year after year was nominated for Emmy awards without being selected. “Usually it’s reserved for the people that win the State championship games. Going into it, I thought Daryl Patton deserved it more than anybody for what his team had done.”
No doubt Patton felt the same way about Calley, who served as Bryant’s offensive coordinator for Patton when the Hornets program made its dramatic turnaround in 1999.
“It’s always special just to get nominated for something like that,” said Calley, who has also been named the 7A/6A-Central Conference Coach of the Year, for leading the 2011 Hornets to an 8-3 season including a share of their second consecutive State championship despite returning only four starters on offense and two on defense.
Calley credited those around him.
“It’s an honor for everybody involved, the coaches, the players, the community, the school,” he said. “To me, that award represents everybody. But I’m very excited about getting the award, very appreciative, humbled and proud for everybody involved.”
"No coach wins without talented players,” stated Chris Hooten, co-owner and publisher of Hooten’s Arkansas Football magazine, “but Coach Calley is one of the best in the state at getting the most out of his guys and beating teams with more talent and size. Especially this year. That was masterful job by Calley to adjust to his personnel and win back-to-back conference titles."
Calley’s staff includes longtime co-horts Steve Griffith and Brad Stroud along with John Wells on the defensive side with Jason Hay and Dale Jones working with the head coach on offense.
The annual event, which includes dinner and a video presentation featuring all 45 of the finalists for the top offensive player, defensive player and coach of the year for each classification in the state. The staff at Hooten's Arkansas Football selects three finalists for each category, and all were invited to attend the ceremony.
Calley was particularly entertained by the video presentation on Patton.
“It had him in Bryant in ’99 winning the conference title,” Calley mentioned adding as a dig to his friend. “It showed him much thinner, much darker hair with a thick mustache.”
Jared McBride, a former Bryant offensive coordinator under Calley and now head coach at Hot Springs Lakeside, was among the nominees in Class 5A. Former Patton assistant Doug Loughridge, who won a State championship at Charleston, was among the nominees in Class 3A.
Farm Bureau vice president-general manager Duff Wallace said, "Farm Bureau congratulates all of the winners for this year's awards. They represent some of the best student-athletes in our state. Farm Bureau is proud to honor their excellence as the title sponsor of this outstanding event."
2011 FARM BUREAU AWARDS
7A/6A FINALISTS (winners in CAPS)
DALLAS HARDISON, BENTONVILLE
Levi Runyan, Lake Hamilton
Shaquille Jones, Fort Smith Northside
BRIAN ANDERSON, LITTLE ROCK CENTRAL
Cody Dauksch, West Memphis
Seth Gates, Har-Ber
PAUL CALLEY, BRYANT
Randy Coleman, Jonesboro
Daryl Patton, Fayetteville
HAYDEN SMITH, GREENWOOD
Neal Burcham, Greenbrier
Derek Keaton, Camden Fairview
AJALEN HOLLEY, HOT SPRINGS LAKESIDE
Jackie Harris, Watson Chapel
Cody Vaughn, Batesville
RICK JONES, GREENWOOD
Jared McBride, Hot Springs Lakeside
Mike Vaughn, White Hall
FREDI KNIGHTEN, PULASKI ACADEMY
Michael Ludwig, Heber Springs
Darrick Strzelecki, Gravette
JUSTIN JAMES, MALVERN
Deondrai Haynes, McGehee
Keith Humbert, Stuttgart
MARCUS HADDOCK, MCGEHEE
Jeremie Burns, Ozark
John Fogleman, Malvern
DANIEL McCOY, PRESCOTT
Dustin Shelby, Charleston
Wil Jarnagan, West Fork
QUANTERIO HEATH, RISON
Robert Cooney, Rivercrest
Ethan Roberts, Barton
VAN PASCHAL, BARTON
Brad Harris, Lincoln
Doug Loughridge, Charleston
KENNETH DIXON, STRONG
Darius Barnes, E. Poinsett County
Jeffery Pinkston, Magnet Cove
MATT TENISON, HAZEN
Josh Dority, Magazine
Bronte Elliott, Junction City
SCOTT WAYMIRE, CARLISLE
Sammy Weir, Salem
Brian Weathers, E. Poinsett County