By Rob Patrick
What do Paul Calley, Josh Floyd, Jared McBride, Brooks Coatney and Dale Jones all[more] have in common?
They were all offensive coordinators for the Bryant Hornets that became head coaches.
Jones is the latest addition. After three years coaching on offense with the Hornets, he has been hired to guide the fledgling program at Poyen.
A perennial basketball power, Poyen began competing in football at the varsity level in Class 2A in the fall of 2010.
Of course, Calley is now the head coach at Bryant after serving as former Hornets coach Daryl Patton’s offensive coordinator. Floyd (Shiloh Christian), McBride (Hot Springs Lakeside) and Coatney (Van Buren) preceded Jones under Calley.
“We were really impressed by his passion, by his vision for what he wanted, what he could do and what he could see,” said Poyen athletic director Mickey Shaffer. “We think he’s highly qualified. He’s been at Bryant, a very successful program obviously, but also he’s been at a small school. He’s been at Mayflower so he’s done both. He was also the junior high head coach at Mayflower. He’s had a lot of responsibility.”
A graduate of Cutter-Morning Star High School and the University of Central Arkansas, Jones was a do-it-all assistant at Mayflower for nine years before joining the staff at Bryant, where he lived.
“I couldn’t pass up a chance to be closer to home and to work with Coach Calley and Coach (Jason) Hay,” he mentioned.
Jones coached defense at the eighth grade level. He was the offensive coordinator for two years for the freshman team then was promoted to offensive coordinator for the high school team.
During that time, the Hornets went 25-9 overall and 17-4 in conference play capturing shares of the 7A/6A-Central Conference championship the last two years.
Jones helped oversee a ground-oriented offense in 2009 and 2010. In 2011, adjusting to the strength of the personnel, the team went to a spread formation. In 2009, the Hornets accumulated around 3,600 yards of offense, averaging 31 points a game. In 2010, they amassed close to 3,700 yards of offense and 29 points a game. In 2011, Bryant totaled almost 3,900 yards of offense and 31 points a game.
“He knows football on both sides of the ball and special teams,” commented Calley. “He’s good with the kids, cares about the kids. He was very instrumental in our last two conference championships. He has a tireless work ethic and he’s going to be a great head coach. He’ll be easy to work with for the assistant coaches and his demeanor is going to make the kids love him.”
Said Jones, “It is bittersweet just because I have such good friends in Bryant, the faculty, the administration, the community have been so good to me. I can’t say enough good things about all the guys I’ve coached with through the years, the guys I was with on the junior high staff, the guys I coached with on the varsity staff. Coach Calley, I can’t say enough about him just for giving me an opportunity to be offensive coordinator. When I took that job he said, you know, I think you’re head coach material and I expect you to be a head coach in the next three or four years.
“I am so excited about the opportunity,” he said. “I met with the (Poyen) kids Thursday evening. I think they’re excited. It’s going to take some work but there’s a lot of kids coming back, a lot of the offensive and defensive line coming back. I think with a lot of hard work, we can have some success.
“I feel like I know Poyen pretty well just because when I was at Mayflower they were in our conference in basketball,” he noted. “I know the quality of the kids they have and how they run their programs and how hard the kids play. That was one of the finer points of the job. There’s so much pride in that school. They’ve won State championships in girls’ basketball and boys’ basketball and they’re very competitive in baseball.
“The coaching staff, the faculty and the administration, the players, we’re all going to need to get that going with the football program,” Jones added. “That’s going to be one of the first things to get done. We’re going to have get the kids faster and stronger and those kinds of things but we also want to develop some pride in the football program. I want to get the kids excited about football. Everyone’s been very cooperative, trying to get the program to the next level. That’s what I want to try to do.”
Jones will officially take over at Poyen after the school year. In the meantime, he’ll continue his duties at Bryant where a search for his replacement is now underway.