Photo courtesy of Kate Patrick
The step-by-step process of installing a new offensive and defensive scheme for the Bryant Hornets football team will ratchet up starting Wednesday with the opening of spring football practice.
The Hornets will practice on Wednesday and Thursday of this week. Next week, sessions will be held on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday with a final week of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday practices starting May 17. All sessions will be from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.
A new rule from the Arkansas Activities Association prevents teams from practicing in pads two days in a row so Wednesday’s practice will be in shorts. The Hornets will don the pads on Thursday.
“Then we’ll come back next week and probably wear pads on Tuesday and Thursday,” said new head coach Buck James. “Wednesday will be shorts.”
“But we’ve got so much learning to do that the hitting is irrelevant right now,” he asserted. “We’ve just got to get where we know what we’re supposed to do then try to learn who’s going to do it. Hopefully, by the end of the spring, we’ll have our whole offense and defense in and have a semblance of some kind of first group, second group, third group — nothing in stone but just a tentative way to work it.
“What I’d like to get out of the whole spring is to be able to have four groups that we can start working with,” he added. “It definitely won’t be any kind of teams. It’ll be just groups. And all those guys know what we’re trying to do, schematically, on offense and defense. If we can get that done then we’ve had a good spring.”
The revamped coaching staff includes three newcomers to Bryant that have worked with James in the past. The only returning coaches are Lance Parker and Brad Stroud. Parker works with the quarterbacks and Stroud with the defensive line. Longtime Hornets assistants Steve Griffith and John Wells along with Clint Shadwick have been and will continue to help out. Griffith, after 35 years as a football coach, is set to become the BHS golf coach next fall while continuing his teaching duties. Wells, who teaches science, has decided to concentrate on that. Shadwick, initially set to become the new head football coach at Bethel Middle School, has been hired as an assistant principal at Bryant Middle School. He’s currently serving as an assistant on the boys soccer team.
Head baseball coach Kirk Bock, who was on the freshman football staff the last few years, will move up to the high school staff and serve as linebacker coach. Shane Clancy, who was the head coach at Bethel Middle School, has joined the high school staff to coach the offensive line.
Robert Hooks, currently at Fort Smith Northside, will be the receivers coach. Darrell Burnett, currently at Malvern, will coach the secondary. Joe Teague will coach special teams and running backs. Teague worked with James at Little Rock Christian while Hooks and Burnett were assistants for him during a highly successful stint at Camden Fairview.
“They’re all going to try to be here,” James said. “That’s why we’re going to do it on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays because they can take off in the afternoons and be here those days. That’ll keep them from missing more than three days in a row. We’ve got the State track meet on Thursday and Coach Stroud won’t be here. Coach Bock won’t be here for any of it because he’ll be in baseball.
“Coach Griffith and Coach Wells deserve medals,” he mentioned. “They’ve been great with their help.”
In other staff changes, Josh Akers, an assistant at Bethel for Clancy, will become the head coach there. Daniel Ratliff will take Bock’s old job with the freshman team, joining head coach Kenny Horn’s staff with John Orr and Travis Queck.
“We could have more movement later in the spring but that’s what we have now,” James said. “There could be a lot of things that happen between now and school being out.”
Asked about the new things he and his staff will be implementing, James said, “It’s going to be different just from a terminology standpoint. I think it’ll all look the same after it’s all said and done. I don’t think it’s going to be a big difference in what they’ve been doing in the past and what we’re going to do now.
“We’re going to try to throw the ball more this spring,” he related. “That’s going to be our emphasis. I think, with the running backs we have coming back — I know those guys can run so that’s not my big concern. I think our biggest concern is to see how well we can pass block — and I am concerned about how well our line will run block — and how well we can throw and catch the ball.
“Defensively, they’re in the same boat,” the coach continued. “They’ve got a lot that they’ve got to do, to get in their base coverages, their base defense, try to get a four-deep and try to find who works together the best and put them in the best positions. Get the best 11 players on the field. I think that’s probably the end goal of it.
“We’ve got to play more people defensively,” he noted. “If we’re going to be trying to throw the football more, we’ll have to have more depth on defense to where we won’t tire out, won’t get worn down. Size is going to be a big issue. We’re not going to be near as big as what they’ve been in the past. We’re just going to have to make it up with depth and stuff.”
In the overview, James said, “I think everybody’s got a good plan. I think everything should work. It’s just not going to happen on the timetable I want it to happen. I want it to be done already and it’s not going to be like that. It’s going to take a little bit for us to get it all in. We’ve got to have a good summer.”
Along with weekly workouts, the Hornets will participate in a team camp at Maumelle on June 13 then host one on June 20. They’ll compete in 7-on-7 competitions at Little Rock Christian on June 9 and Malvern on July 13.
“Those will help us a lot,” James said.
Fall practice commences on Aug. 1 with a scrimmage scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 6.
2016 varsity football schedule
Aug. 26 — at Pulaski Academy (pre-season scrimmage)
Sept. 2 — Benton (Salt Bowl, War Memorial Stadium, LR)
Sept. 9 — Fayetteville (Pee Wee Cheer)
Sept. 16 — at Lake Hamilton
Sept. 23 — Fort Smith Northside* (State recognition)
Sept. 29 — at LR Catholic* (War Memorial Stadium)
Oct. 7 — Little Rock Central* (Mass Band)
Oct. 14 — at Fort Smith Southside*
Oct. 21 — Cabot* (homecoming)
Oct. 28 — at North Little Rock*
Nov. 4 — Conway* (Senior Night)
*7A-Central Conference games
2016 JV/Sophomore football schedule
Sept. 5 — at Pine Bluff
Sept. 12 — at Maumelle (soph)
Sept. 12 — LR Catholic (JV)
Sept. 19 — Hot Springs Lakeside
Sept. 26 — LR Fair (JV)
Sept. 26 — at LR McClellan (soph)
Oct. 3 — North Little Rock (JV)
Oct. 3 — at Fountain Lake (soph)
Oct. 10 — at Hot Springs Lakeside
Oct. 17 — Benton (JV)
Oct. 24 — Cabot (JV)