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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas coach Chad Morris watches warmups prior to the Class 4A State Championship Game between Warren and Arkadelphia on Saturday, Dec. 9, 2017, at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. - Photo by Jimmy Jones

The ninth annual Arkansas Football Coaches Association Ronnie Roach football clinic in Hot Springs can be labeled a huge success with the largest attendance yet.

The clinic allows coaches from all levels to share ideas while allowing college coaches, including Arkansas Razorbacks Coach Chad Morris and his staff, to attend to form relationships with the high school coaches.


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The first association meeting drew about 130 coaches, and the Feb. 9-11 meeting had nearly 900 high school coaches from across the state and surrounding states.

"I think we had pre-registered 865, so it was around almost 900 coaches," said association President and Fort Smith Southside Coach Jeff Williams. "You're seeing a lot of these younger coaches really getting involved and want to be a part of it."

Morris and his staff mingled with the high school coaches Friday, and later Morris, offensive coordinator Joe Craddock and defensive coordinator John Chavis spoke to large crowds.

"I was very impressed with his whole staff," Williams said.

Williams liked what Morris had to say to the coaches.

"It's kind of neat because he's been where we're sitting in the audience, and he's been right there where we were," Williams said. "It looks like he has a great plan for recruiting and building his culture there at the University of Arkansas."

Clinic speakers included former Razorback and Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Dowell Loggins; former University of Arkansas, Fayetteville and Clemson coach Danny Ford; North Carolina State offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz; former Warren Lumberjack and Florida State special teams coordinator Alonzo Hampton; Arkansas State University Coach Blake Anderson; and University of Central Arkansas Coach Nathan Brown.

"We even have coaches from out of state attending our clinic because you're getting to hear some great speakers," Williams said.

The focal point of the association is player safety. All the high school coaches in the state are certified in player safety and have to be re-certified every two years.

A topic that appeared to be on the mind of many coaches was AAU football, which has been played in Texas and Louisiana for several years and is now in Arkansas.

"With all of the sports out there, and I'm not knocking any other sport, but we're where the high school coach really matters in recruiting and the relationships you build," Williams said. "A lot of the college coaches I've talked to about this situation, they're not for it. We're always talking about players' safety. What are the safety hazards with it?

"Every high school coach in Arkansas is a certified coach and has been through different classes in things that prepare you to be a coach. That's the biggest part, you're scared about the safety, you're scared about noncertified coaches and making sure you're going to protect our players."

Williams said the clinic allows the coaches to discuss issues and have a voice in solving them.

El Dorado Coach Scott Reed, a former president of the association, attended the American Football Coaches Association meeting in Charlotte, N.C., in early January. His son Lucas, who will graduate from Ouachita Baptist University next semester, also attended in hopes of landing a graduate assistant spot in college.

"He came back and said, 'Wow, I got more out of the Arkansas coaches clinic,' " Reed said.

Reed is encouraged by the growth of the Arkansas Football Coaches Association

"A lot of clinic's numbers are going down and our's is going up," Reed said. "I think the list of speakers had a lot to do with our attendance. Jeff Williams does a great job of lining up speakers."

He also liked what he saw of Morris.

"Coach Morris and his staff were very accommodating," Reed said.

Email Richard Davenport at

Sports on 02/18/2018

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