In his two seasons away from the high school football sidelines, Brad Bolding was always looking to get back into the game.
Bolding, who coached at North Little Rock in 2007-2014 before being fired in April 2015, is back in high school football with Little Rock Parkview and led the Patriots this week in the Senator Showdown 7-on-7 tournament at Joe T. Robinson.
Tentative 2018-2020 football conferences
A breakdown of the tentative Arkansas high school football conference assignments for the 2018-2020 cycle, which were announced earlier this month. Schools have until June 27 to appeal conference and/or classification assignments.
7A-CENTRAL Bryant, Cabot, Little Rock Catholic, Little Rock Central, Conway, Fort Smith Northside, Fort Smith Southside, North Little Rock
7A-WEST Bentonville, Bentonville West, Fayetteville, Rogers, Rogers Heritage, Springdale, Springdale Har-Ber, Van Buren
6A-EAST Jacksonville, Jonesboro, Marion, Mountain Home, Pine Bluff, Searcy, Sylvan Hills, West Memphis
6A-WEST Benton, El Dorado, Greenwood, Lake Hamilton, Little Rock Hall, Russellville, Sheridan, Siloam Springs
5A-EAST Batesville, Blytheville, Forrest City, Greene County Tech, Nettleton, Paragould, Valley View, Wynne
5A-WEST Alma, Clarksville, Farmington, Greenbrier, Harrison, Huntsville, Morrilton, Vilonia
5A-CENTRAL Beebe, Little Rock Christian, Little Rock Fair, Little Rock Parkview, Maumelle, Pulaski Academy, Watson Chapel, White Hall
5A-SOUTH Camden Fairview, De Queen, Hope, Hot Springs, Hot Springs Lakeside, Little Rock McClellan, Magnolia, Texarkana
1-4A Berryville, Gentry, Gravette, Green Forest, Lincoln, Pea Ridge, Prairie Grove, Shiloh Christian
2-4A Bald Knob, Central Arkansas Christian, Heber Springs, Lonoke, Mills, Riverview, Southside Batesville, Stuttgart
3-4A Brookland, Cave City, Gosnell, Highland, Jonesboro Westside, Pocahontas, Rivercrest, Trumann
4-4A Dardanelle, Dover, Elkins, Mena, Ozark, Pottsville, Subiaco Academy, Waldron
7-4A Arkadelphia, Ashdown, Bauxite, Benton Harmony Grove, Fountain Lake, Joe T. Robinson, Malvern, Nashville
8-4A Crossett, DeWitt, Dumas, Hamburg, Helena-West Helena, Monticello, Star City, Warren
1-3A Booneville, Cedarville, Charleston, Greenland, Lamar, Mansfield, Paris, West Fork
2-3A Cedar Ridge, Clinton, Harding Academy, Marshall, Melbourne, Mountain View, Rose Bud, Yellville-Summit
3-3A Corning, Harrisburg, Hoxie, Manila, Newport, Osceola, Piggott, Walnut Ridge
4-3A Atkins, Baptist Prep, Danville, Glen Rose, Jessieville, Mayflower, Perryville, Two Rivers
5-3A Bismarck, Camden Harmony Grove, Centerpoint, Fouke, Genoa Central, Horatio, Prescott, Smackover
6-3A Barton, Drew Central, Episcopal Collegiate, Lake Village, McGehee, Palestine-Wheatley, Pine Bluff Dollarway, Rison
3-2A Augusta, Cross County, East Poinsett County, Marked Tree, McCrory, Midland, Rector, Salem
4-2A Decatur, Hackett, Hector, Johnson County Westside, Lavaca, Magazine, Mountainburg, Western Yell County
5-2A Bigelow, Conway Christian, Cutter Morning Star, England, Magnet Cove, Mountain Pine, Poyen, Quitman
6-2A Brinkley, Carlisle, Clarendon, Des Arc, Earle, Hazen, Marianna, Marvell
7-2A Dierks, Foreman, Gurdon, Lafayette County, Mineral Springs, Mount Ida, Murfreesboro, Spring Hill
8-2A Bearden, Fordyce, Hampton, Hermitage, Junction City, Parkers Chapel, Strong, Woodlawn
High school football coaching changes
SCHOOL NEW COACH PREVIOUS COACH
Augusta TBA Deerick Smith^
Barton Clark McBride Van Paschal
Berryville Doug Shott Austin Winters
Cave City Tommy Britt Joey Moseley
Conway Christian Justin Kramer Michael Carter
Corning Joey Moseley Jeremy Stout
Cross County Tommy Wells Bert Greenwell
Decatur TBA Shane Holland
De Queen Stephen Sloan Justin Kramer
Dierks Jonathan Bates Vince Perrin
England Matt Garrett Terry Farmer
Episcopal Collegiate Michael Carter Richie Marsh
Fayetteville Billy Dawson Bill Blankenship
Fountain Lake JD Plumlee Tommy Gilleran
Harrisburg Aaron Thornton Charles Benintende
Horatio Robert Collum David Bennett
Junction City Steven Jones David Carpenter
Lake Hamilton Tommy Gilleran Jeremy Reed
Lake Village Chris Williams Chris Norton
LR Christian Eric Cohu Jeff Weaver
LR Hall TBA Tim Scarborough
LR Parkview Brad Bolding Kenny Stephens*
Lonoke Taggart Moore Taggart Moore*
Magnet Cove Caleb Carmikle Ronnie Efird
Marked Tree TBA Cody Wallis
Maumelle Kirk Horton David Farr
Mineral Springs David Bennett Jason Burns
Mountain Home TBA David Joyce
Murfreesboro Marc McRae Jeff Jones
Osceola Robert Hooks Russell Leggett
Palestine-Wheatley Kary Knowlton Tommy Wells*
Paris Bryan Hutson Marc Tucker
Parkers Chapel Jacob Midyett James Housdan
Quitman DJ Marrs Brian Narretto
Rose Bud Chris Norton Mike Perez
Russellville Jeff Weaver Billy Dawson
Sheridan Lance Parker Louis Campbell
Smackover Mike Baysinger Brian Strickland
Subiaco Academy Steve Moore Mike Berry
Texarkana Barry Norton Todd Ledford
West Fork Bob Wise Brad Lindley
Wynne Van Paschal Chris Hill
Yellville-Summit Lucas Morris Brett Shrable%
^Smith did not coach a game; took over for Chad Floyd
%Shrable did not coach a game; took over for Tommy Britt
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The Patriots were 1-8 last season, with their lone victory coming in Week 5 against Little Rock Fair. But Bolding, who won 10 or more games in four of his eight seasons at North Little Rock, has high expectations for Parkview, which has not had a winning season since 2009.
"We expect a lot out of our players," said Bolding, who has 62 players in the program as of Thursday. "Luckily, I was there in January so we were able to establish a lot of that [expectations].
"We're taking baby steps, but we're getting there. That's the main thing."
Bolding was fired in April 2015 by North Little Rock for violating inventory and purchasing procedures and recruiting rules. He was in television and in private business the past two years, but admitted when he was hired in December that he missed the game and that the two-year break recharged his batteries.
On Thursday, Bolding was on the sidelines in Little Rock, encouraging his Patriots as they competed in the Senator Showdown. Parkview went 3-2 in the tournament, losing to Lonoke in the second round.
Despite Parkview's inexperience, Bolding said he expected his team to play deep into the tournament.
"It doesn't matter what we're doing," Bolding said. "We want to win in everything."
Competition is one of Bolding's goals early on as he attempts to rebuild a Parkview football program that will have its third coach in three seasons. William Hardiman was placed on administrative leave by Parkview last August and pleaded guilty to sexual assault in January and Kenny Stephens was the Patriots' interim coach in 2016.
"We want to compete against each other," Bolding said. "We want to have a winner and a loser. We don't want you to get accustomed to feeling the losing. It's not an acceptable mindset. We're always preaching to them that we always want to win. It needs to hurt when you don't win. You don't want to feel that feeling anymore.
"When we get a collective group thinking like that and all believing that, that's when you win."
Parkview will open the season Sept. 1 at Star City.
Bryant advanced to the Class 7A semifinals for the first time last year in Buck James' first season at the school.
James, who replaced Paul Calley before the 2016 season, installed a Spread offense and had to hire six new assistants, with Brad Stroud as the lone holdover from Calley's staff. The Hornets started 2-2, but won five of their final six games to reach the Class 7A playoffs.
The veteran coach, who led Camden Fairview to the Class 5A state championship in 2012 and also has coached at Star City, said Friday at the Shootout of the South in Little Rock that it's a three- to five-year process to start a program over. However, it was a different situation at Bryant, which was successful under Calley, who is now at Benton Harmony Grove.
"This program wasn't broken when I got here by any means," James said. "It was getting to the playoffs and making a run in the playoffs.
"Our goal is to win a state championship. Part of the process is to go a step farther than you've ever been, then try to get to the game and try to win the game. That's what we keep preaching to these kids.
"That's why we're going through this grind."
The Hornets return junior quarterback Ren Hefley, who transferred to the school last June. Hefley, one of the top sophomores on last year's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's All-Arkansas Preps team, shared time with Beaux Bonvillain, but took over as the Hornets' starting quarterback midway through the season. He accounted for 16 touchdowns last season and was 7-2 as Bryant's starter.
"Ren is a lot bigger and stronger," James said. "He's more mature and a lot more comfortable in what we're trying to do. Last year, we were constantly pushing it on him. [Hefley] being a sophomore and doing what he did for our football team, it was remarkable."
Bryant opens the season Sept. 2 against Saline County rival Benton in the Salt Bowl at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
LITTLE ROCK CHRISTIAN
Little Rock Christian played in its first 7-on-7 tournament Thursday under new coach Eric Cohu and won it.
The Warriors traveled 1.4 miles west on Arkansas 10 to Joe T. Robinson's Charlie George Stadium, where they earned the Senator Showdown title, defeating Pine Bluff in the championship game 38-27.
Cohu, a Harding University graduate, was hired by Little Rock Christian in April, replacing Jeff Weaver, who is now at Russellville. He was 87-12 in seven seasons at Madison Academy in Huntsville, Ala., leading the school to three Class 3A state championships.
The Warriors finished 7-0 in Thursday's tournament, defeating Clinton, Fordyce, West Memphis and Pine Bluff in the championship bracket.
"Our guys have worked hard," Cohu said. "They've worked hard in spring ball. They've showed up every day in the summer. We're learing execution and doing it properly.
"It paid off today [Thursday]. They're in good shape. These 7-on-7s that last all day, it's an attrition thing. We did a good job of staying the course and competing all eight games."
Little Rock Christian went 5-7 last season, but defeated 5A-South champion White Hall in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs behind quarterback Jackson Bowersock and running back Ladarius Burnes. Bowersock and Burns will return for their senior seasons and sophomore Chris Hightower is expected to start this season after earning playing time as a freshman a year ago.
"We've got a lot of special football players on this team that can make plays," Cohu said.
While 7-on-7 is played without offensive and defensive linemen, Cohu said the experience of playing in the tournament can only help his team.
"It's not regular football, but it shows a competitive spirit and nature and who can make some plays," Cohu said. "It's a game within a game because it's a different deal. But it shows perseverance and who the playmakers are."
Allen, Texas, won the Shootout of the South 7-on-7 tournament Saturday, defeating Springdale Har-Ber 38-29 in the championship game in Little Rock. Allen's victory snapped a seven-year streak by Pulaski Academy, which lost in the first round Saturday to Glendale, Mo. ... The Arkansas Activities Association's two-week dead period is June 26-July 9. Athletic programs are prohibited from participating in any activity during the period. ... Pulaski Academy Coach Kevin Kelley said assistant coaches Madison Taylor and Jason Wyatt will serve as co-defensive coordinators for the 2017 season. The Bruins' defensive coordinator post was left vacant earlier this year when Todd Wood left to fill the same position at Russellville under new coach Jeff Weaver. Also, Adam Thrash, who was the quarterback of Pulaski Academy's first state championship team in 2003, will be the Bruins' defensive line coach. He coached at Maumelle last season. ... Bryant, Fort Smith Northside and Pulaski Academy will play in the USA Football National 7-on-7 Tournament from July 14-15 at the Dallas Cowboys' headquarters, The Star, in Frisco, Texas.
Sports on 06/18/2017