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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/DAVID GOTTSCHALK Rogers High School quarterback Hunter Loyd runs through and offensive drill Monday, April 30, 2018 during practice near Whitey Smith Stadium in Rogers.

Rogers High

Mounties change spring strategy

CLASS 7A

BENTONVILLE TIGERS

Aug. 25 Midwest City, Okla. 7 p.m.

Aug. 31 at Conway 7 p.m.

Sept. 8 vs. Aledo, Texas% 3 p.m.

Sept.14 Open

Sept. 21 Springdale Har-Ber* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Van Buren* 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 at Rogers Heritage* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 Fayetteville* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 Rogers High* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 at Springdale High* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 Bentonville West* 7 p.m.

% — at the Independence Bowl, Shreveport, La.

*— 7A-West Conference game

BENTONVILLE WEST WOLVERINES

Aug. 24 at Owasso, Okla. 7 p.m.

Aug. 31 FS Southside 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 Bryant 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 Open

Sept. 21 at Fayetteville* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 Springdale High* 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 Rogers High* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 at Springdale Har-Ber* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 at Rogers Heritage* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 Van Buren* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 at Bentonville High* 7 p.m.

*— 7A-West Conference game

FAYETTEVILLE BULLDOGS

Aug. 24 at St. John Vianney (Mo.) 7 p.m.

Aug. 31 Owasso, Okla. 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 Open

Sept. 14 at Bryant 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 Bentonville West* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Rogers High* 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 Van Buren* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 at Bentonville High* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 Springdale High* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 Rogers Heritage* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 at Springdale Har-Ber* 7 p.m.

*— 7A-West Conference game

FORT SMITH NORTHSIDE GRIZZLIES

Aug. 24 Rogers Heritage 7 p.m.

Aug. 31 Greenwood 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 at Van Buren 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 Open 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 at Bryant* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 at LR Central* 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 LR Catholic* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 at Conway* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 North Little Rock* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 at Cabot* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 FS Southside* 7 p.m.

*— 7A-Central Conference game

FORT SMITH SOUTHSIDE MAVERICKS

Aug. 24 Open

Aug. 31 at Bentonville West 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 Greenwood 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 at Rogers Heritage 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 Conway* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 Cabot* 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 at North Little Rock* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 Bryant 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 at LR Catholic 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 LR Central* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 at FS Northside* 7 p.m.

*— 7A-Central Conference game

ROGERS HERITAGE WAR EAGLES

Aug. 24 at FS Northside 7 p.m.

Aug. 31 LR Central 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 Open

Sept. 14 FS Southside 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 at Springdale High* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Springdale Har-Ber* 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 Bentonville High* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 at Van Buren* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 Bentonville West* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 at Fayetteville* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 Rogers High* 7 p.m.

*— 7A-West Conference game

ROGERS HIGH MOUNTIES

Aug. 24 Open

Aug. 31 at Pulaski Robinson 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 at LR Central 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 LR Parkview 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 Van Buren* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 Fayetteville* 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 at Bentonville West* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 Springdale High* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 at Bentonville High* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 Springdale Har-Ber* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 at Rogers Heritage* 7 p.m.

*— 7A-West Conference game

SPRINGDALE HAR-BER WILDCATS

Aug. 24 Pulaski Academy 7 p.m.

Aug. 31 Open

Sept. 7 at Russellville 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 at Pine Bluff 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 at Bentonville High* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 Rogers Heritage* 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 at Springdale High* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 Bentonville West* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 Van Buren* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 at Rogers High* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 Fayetteville* 7 p.m.

*— 7A-West Conference game

SPRINGDALE HIGH BULLDOGS

Aug. 23 Pulaski Robinson 7 p.m.

Aug. 31 at LR Parkview 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 Alma 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 Open

Sept. 21 Rogers Heritage* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Bentonville West* 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 at Springdale Har-Ber* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 at Rogers High* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 at Fayetteville* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 Bentonville High* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 at Van Buren* 7 p.m.

*— 7A-West Conference game

VAN BUREN POINTERS

Aug. 24 Open

Aug. 28 at Alma 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 FS Northside 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 Siloam Springs 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 at Rogers High* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 Bentonville High* 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 at Fayetteville* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 Rogers Heritage* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 at Springdale Har-Ber* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 at Bentonville Wesst* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 Springdale High* 7 p.m.

*— 7A-West Conference game

CLASS 6A

GREENWOOD BULLDOGS

Aug. 24 Open

Aug. 31 at Fort Smith Northside 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 at Fort Smith Southside 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 Sand Springs, Okla. 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 Little Rock Hall* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 at El Dorado* 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 at Siloam Springs* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 Russellville* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 Benton* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 at Sheridan* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 Lake Hamilton* 7 p.m.

*— 6A-West Conference game

SILOAM SPRINGS PANTHERS

Aug. 24 Open

Aug. 31 at Pryor, Okla. 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 Harrison 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 at Van Buren 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 Sheridan* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Benton* 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 Greenwood* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 at Lake Hamilton* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 El Dorado* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 at LR Hall* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 Russellville* 7 p.m.

*— 6A-West Conference game

CLASS 5A

HUNTSVILLE EAGLES

Aug. 24 Open

Aug. 31 Gentry 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 at Berryville 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 at Elkins 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 Greenbrier* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Vilonia* 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 at Clarksville* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 Morrilton* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 Farmington* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 at Harrison* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 Alma* 7 p.m.

*— 5A-West Conference game

FARMINGTON CARDINALS

Aug. 24 Open

Aug. 31 at Prairie Grove 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 Gravette 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 at Pea Ridge 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 at Clarksville* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 Alma* 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 Greenbrier* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 at Vilonia* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 at Huntsville* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 Morrilton* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 Harrison* 7 p.m.

*— 5A-West Conference game

ALMA AIREDALES

Aug. 24 Open

Aug. 28 Van Buren 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 at Springdale 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 Russellville 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 Vilonia* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Farmington* 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 at Morrilton* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 Clarksville* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 Harrison* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 at Greenbrier* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 at Huntsville* 7 p.m.

HARRISON GOBLINS

Aug. 24 Pea Ridge 7 p.m.

Aug. 31 Mountain Home 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 at Siloam Springs 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 Open

Sept. 21 at Morrilton* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 Clarksville 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 Vilonia* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 at Greenbrier* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 at Alma* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 Huntsville* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 at Farmington* 7 p.m.

CLARKSVILLE PANTHERS

Aug 24 at Booneville 7 p.m.

Aug. 31 at Paris 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 at Ozark 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 Open 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 Farmington* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Harrison* 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 Huntsville* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 at Alma* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 Greenbrier* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 at Vilonia* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 Morrilton* 7 p.m.

CLASS 4A

GREEN FOREST TIGERS

Aug. 24 Open

Aug. 31 Yellville-Summit 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 at Commerce, Okla. 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 West Fork 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 at Prairie Grove* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 Shiloh Christian* 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 at Gentry* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 Lincoln* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 at Gravette* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 Pea Ridge* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 at Berryville* 7 p.m.

*— 4A-1 Conference game

PEA RIDGE BLACKHAWKS

Aug. 24 at Harrison 7 p.m.

Aug. 31 at Maumelle 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 Open

Sept. 14 Farmington 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 at Gentry* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 Lincoln* 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 at Gravette* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 at Prairie Grove* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 Berryville* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 at Green Forest* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 Shiloh Christian* 7 p.m.

*— 4A-1 Conference game

BERRYVILLE BOBCATS

Aug. 24 Open

Aug. 31 at West Fork 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 Huntsville 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 Yellville-Summit 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 at Shiloh Christian* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 Gentry* 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 at Lincoln* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 Gravette* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 at Pea Ridge* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 at Prairie Grove* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 Green Forest* 7 p.m.

*— 4A-1 Conference game

SHILOH CHRISTIAN SAINTS

Aug. 24 Arkansas High 7 p.m.

Aug. 31 Open

Sept. 7 at Trumann 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 Beggs, Okla. 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 Berryville* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Green Forest* 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 Prairie Grove 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 Gentry* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 at Lincoln* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 Gravette* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 at Pea Ridge* 7 p.m.

*— 4A-1 Conference game

ELKINS ELKS

Aug. 24 Open

Aug. 31 at Greenland 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 at West Fork 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 Huntsville 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 at Waldron* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Dover* 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 Subiaco Academy* 7 p.m.

Oc.t 12 at Mena* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 Pottsville* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 at Dardanelle* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 Ozark* 7 p.m.

*— 4A-4 Conference game

GENTRY PIONEERS

Aug. 24 at Dardanelle 7 p.m.

Aug. 31 at Huntsville 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 Open

Sept. 14 Greenland 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 Pea Ridge* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Berryville* 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 Green Forest* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 at Shiloh Christian* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 Prairie Grove* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 Lincoln* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 at Gravette* 7 p.m.

*— 4A-1 Conference game

GRAVETTE LIONS

Aug. 24 Cascia Hall (Okla.) 7 p.m.

Aug. 31 Open

Sept. 7 at Farmington 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 at Jay, Okla. 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 at Lincoln* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 Prairie Grove* 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 Pea Ridge* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 at Berryville* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 Green Forest* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 at Shiloh Christian 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 Gentry* 7 p.m.

*— 4A-1 Conference game

LINCOLN WOLVES

Aug. 24 Open

Aug. 31 Westville, Okla. 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 at Keys, Okla. 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 at Subiaco Academy 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 Gravette* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Pea Ridge* 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 Berryville* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 at Green Forest* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 Shiloh Christian* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 at Gentry* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 Prairie Grove* 7 p.m.

*— 4A-1 Conference game

PRAIRIE GROVE TIGERS

Aug. 24 Open

Aug. 31 Farmington 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 Dardanelle 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 at Pottsville 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 Green Forest* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Gravette* 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 at Shiloh Christian* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 Pea Ridge* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 at Gentry* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 Berryville* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 at Lincoln* 7 p.m.

*— 4A-1 Conference game

SUBIACO ACADEMY TROJANS

Aug. 24 Open

Aug. 31 at Lavaca 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 Lamar 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 Lincoln 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 Dover 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 Ozark* 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 at Elkins* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 at Waldron* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 at Dardanelle 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 Mena* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 at Pottsville* 7 p.m.

*— 4A-4 Conference game

OZARK HILLBILLIES

Aug. 24 Open

Aug. 31 Booneville 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 Clarksville 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 at Charleston 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 Mena* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Subiaco Academy* 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 Dardanelle* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 at Pottsville* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 Dover* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 at Waldron* 7 p.m.

Nov. 2 at Elkins* 7 p.m.

*— 4A-4 Conference game

WALDRON BULLDOGS

Aug. 24 Open

Aug. 31 at Mansfield 7 p.m.

Sept. 7 Paris 7 p.m.

Sept. 14 at Danville 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 Elkins* 7 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Dardanelle* 7 p.m.

Oct. 5 Pottsville* 7 p.m.

Oct. 12 Subiaco Academy* 7 p.m.

Oct. 19 at Mena* 7 p.m.

Oct. 26 Ozark* 7 p.m.

Nov. 1 at Dover* 7 p.m.

*— 4A-4 Conference game

Coach Mike Loyd decided to start and finish spring practice earlier this year, taking away any thoughts of dealing with some of his players who are playing other spring sports.

The veteran coach said it takes some pressure off some of those athletes, who in past years would come back for a week or so of spring football after playing baseball or running track.

"Everybody's tired, it's been a grind," Loyd said. "The last week or two, they're almost out of school, got finals coming up. I don't know how much they're engaged. It's a new generation anyway.

"Number one, I think the spring's overrated anyway. You can get a few things done, but you're always worried about injuries. I like having multi-sport athletes and I believe in letting a kid be a kid some. We've kinda almost taken that way from them.

"It's not like they can't catch up in the summer, I know they can. That's different now, too. I'm not sure that's any better though. When do these kids get a chance to relax and recover? I have always encouraged the multi-sport athlete. That makes you more competitive. My first three years in junior college at NEO, I had 55 Division I kids and I can't think of one of that didn't play multi-sport."

Loyd points to Alan Cockrell, a great football player he had back in Joplin when he started coaching, as an example. Cockrell became the first true freshman to start at quarterback at Tennessee, but he was also an All-American baseball player. He was the ninth pick overall in the baseball draft and spent time in the major leagues. He's now a hitting coach, spending the last two seasons with the New York Yankees.

"He led Joplin to a state championship," Loyd said. "It didn't hurt him. He was also a very good basketball player."

The Mounties, which finished 5-6 and lost in the first round of the playoffs at Conway, will finish spring workouts on May 10 and won't have a scrimmage.

Rogers Heritage

Playing time up for grabs

Playing time is up for grabs as the War Eagles began the first of four weeks of spring practice on Tuesday.

Rogers Heritage, which finished 1-9 in the fall, returns just one starter on offense and six on defense, but a couple of those won't participate in spring practice because of injuries.

That alone creates excitement in practice, Heritage coach Tony Travis said.

"A lot of these guys can look at it and say 'I can come out the next four weeks and earn Friday night playing time.' It's there for the taking," Travis said.

Tanner Epps, a returner at cornerback, had surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament, while linebacker Parker Lee is rehabbing a back injury. It will likely be September before Epps returns, while Lee could be back for some 7-on-7 by July, Travis said.

One focus of spring ball will be to establish some depth, particularly up front, Travis said.

Junior tackle Zion Adair (6-3, 340) is the lone holdover on offense.

"I think our ninth-graders, there's going to be a lot of kids we're hopeful will emerge during the spring and push for some playing time," Travis said. "That's the biggest thing with us is creating depth. We've had injuries my two years here anyway, that led to guys having to play probably quicker than they were ready to and that's not good in our conference."

There will be some shifts in coaching responsibilities, but the biggest will be Travis going over the defensive side as coordinator for spring drills.

He and Darren Hotelling have shared the offensive coordinator duties the first two seasons. Hotelling will assume that role, along with offensive line coach. Paul Wilson shifts from defensive coordinator to running backs.

The War Eagles are planning a Blue-Orange scrimmage to finish spring practice at 6 p.m. May 24 in Gates Stadium.

-- Paul Boyd • @NWAPaulB

Siloam Springs

New coach benefits from early hiring

The Panthers are a lot farther along under new coach Brandon Craig, and the first-year coach attributes it to one thing.

"I think the school district getting me over here in March made a huge impact on where we're at right now -- no doubt," Craig said. "Obviously if I was still driving back and forth and I'm not over here, we wouldn't be where we're at right now. So I think it's been huge."

Craig was hired from Oologah, Okla., in early February and started working officially in the district the last week of March.

Since his arrival on campus, he has been able to make changes within the program along with installing his offense and defense.

Craig and the Panthers started spring football practice Monday and wrapped up their first week Friday with their third practice in pads.

Craig said the Panthers started out a little slow Monday but practices picked up as the week went on.

"I thought we started off the week not too physical, and I thought by the end of the week we got back into the comfort of our pads," Craig said. "We understood where we're at. We had a pretty physical week I thought. I think that's what wins football games is being physical and having that toughness and that edge to you, and I thought we got a little bit better at that as the week went along."

Siloam Springs will hold three more practices this week. The Panthers are set to play their spring game on May 15 at Panther Stadium.

-- Graham Thomas • @NWAGraham

Van Buren

Dick has experience building programs

Recently hired coach Casey Dick is no stranger to being a part of building a winning culture, helping two new schools in the past hit the ground running.

The former Arkansas Razorback quarterback was able to gain that experience while being the offensive coordinator at Bentonville West for its inaugural two successful seasons playing varsity football.

Dick was also part of early success at Byron Nelson High in Texas, which opened in 2009, as an assistant coach there for five years.

"There are a lot of similarities in how to go about establishing things," Dick said. "I got that experience twice now. Down in Texas, we helped win the first playoff game in that school district in 56 years. Each situation is different though."

West, which made the playoffs each of the past two seasons, finished 9-2 last year. The offense averaged 42 points per game and 460 yards per game.

Dick now looks to bring success to Van Buren, which was winless last season and had its last winning season in 2010 when the Pointers finished 7-5.

"This is a place that has had tradition in the past," Dick said. "They won the state championship in 1996. They got the foundation ready here. This town is just starving for success on Friday nights. That's our goal coming in."

It didn't take long for Dick to fill out his staff, turning to former Arkansas teammate Crosby Tuck to be the offensive coordinator for the Pointers. On the other side of the ball, Kenneth Chick will be the defensive coordinator.

Tuck was the head coach at Georgia Christian High last season and was the offensive coordinator when Pea Ridge made it to the state title game in 2016. Chick was the co-defensive coordinator at Greenwood and was part of eight state championship teams coaching for the Bulldogs.

"I'm extremely excited with the staff we have now," Dick said. "We have a lot of knowledge on our staff with those guys. I think it's a great combination. The coaches that have been here have been awesome as well and have been a wealth of knowledge. It's been awesome putting this together and get it working."

-- Harold McIlvain

Springdale Har-Ber

Wildcats have physicality mentality

Chris Wood is using the spring to find out who wants to hit as the Wildcats have had three days of spring practices in full pads.

"It's going well. We're doing a lot of our install and corrections in the morning, which is a great teaching time," Wood said. "The kids are really tuned in at that time. Then when we're in pads, we just want them to be fast, physical and have fun."

Wood said the players were nervous the first day but started to hit their stride as the week progressed. And the popping of pads also revved up.

"We do a lot of Oklahoma drills, a lot of inside run," Wood said. "I really like our energy."

The Wildcats return just one offensive starter in sophomore Hunter Wood, who caught 36 passes for 509 yards and five touchdowns for a 7-4 team that lost to Fort Smith Northside 21-9 in the first round of the Class 7A state playoffs.

Sophomore quarterback Blaze Wittschen was thrust into action last season when Har-Ber's starter went down and finished the season 28 of 43 passing for 310 yards. Wittschen was clocked at 4.5 seconds in the 40 last week, Wood said.

Har-Ber recently lost defensive coordinator Keith Fimple, who was hired as the new coach at Conway. Wood had a replacement ready in Travis Moreland, who was the Wildcats' defensive coordinator for the 2009 state champion team. Moreland left his coordinator's role to focus on earning his master's degree in administration, Wood said.

"It's was just a natural move for Travis to take over the defense," Wood said.

Wood said no decision has been made regarding a spring game. The Wildcats will end spring drills and take a week off before moving into their summer program that will include several team camps and 7-on-7 tournaments.

-- Chip Souza • @NWAChip

Springdale High

New faces greet Red'Dog staff

Zak Clark may have trouble recognizing all the new players without a program, but the Red'Dogs' coach is anxious to see real competition this spring.

The Bulldogs hit the practice field this week with a ton of newcomers and several transfers. Clark said Monday's practice looked like a first practice, but by Wednesday the team seemed to settle in, he said.

"We threw a lot at them that first day," Clark said. "Wednesday, we looked a lot better."

Clark said the mission this spring and into the summer would be to find replacements in the trenches.

"We're more athletic than we have been since I've been here, but we have to replace a lot of guys up front," he said. "We lost three on the offensive line and two on the defensive line with big (Isaiah) Nichols being one of those."

Springdale was 6-5 last season and will have plenty of depth at running back as Garrett Vaughn returns after rushing for 644 yards despite missing a couple of games with a hand injury. Both Vaughn and receiver Juan Boyd were timed in 4.4 in the 40 last week, Clark said.

"Those guys got a lot faster and stronger in the weight room," Clark said.

Several transfers from crosstown Har-Ber could play big roles for the Bulldogs this season, notably rising senior quarterback Grant Allen. Allen is coming off shoulder surgery and has not been cleared to practice, although he has been throwing the football, Clark said. Will Mueller, who backed up starter Layne Hutchins last season will be in the mix at quarterback as well.

The Bulldogs will close the spring session with a Red-White game on May 17 starting at 5:30 p.m. Springdale will go to team camps at Greenwood and Pitt State and will be in the Southwest Elite 7on7 tournament at Shiloh Christian in July.

-- Chip Souza • @NWAChip

Bentonville West

Wolverines need linemen to emerge

West started spring workouts with noticeable absence to players who are involved with track and baseball, such as heralded receiver Jadon Jackson and standout quarterback Will Jarrett.

Wolverines coach Bryan Pratt knows those players will be back in due time. What he wants to find out of his team during this spring is those who will man the trenches.

"We want to find where our offensive and defensive line is," Pratt said. "That is the question mark we have, and some of our younger kids will have to come in and play in some open positions like some receiver spots.

"We're not going to have a lot of those players right now, but these first two weeks will give us a chance to evaluate some of these younger players and find some guys that can be components to our football team."

This marks the first season that West will have to fill holes in its starting lineups because of graduation. Pratt said one thing he liked to hear when his team opened workouts last week was players mentioning how much stronger they felt after hitting the weights during the offseason.

"This is a little different for us, but we've all been there before," Pratt said. "We've been at other schools and know how important the spring is. We can get a jump start on getting some of these guys some experience because it won't be a week before it's over when we got to Tulsa team camp and go against a really good bunch of teams there."

Bentonville High

Sophomores get their chance to shine

Bentonville coach Jody Grant said the rising sophomores from last year's unbeaten team will get their chances to see how they can compete with the older players this spring.

"This is a very talented class," Grant said. "We feel like there are some in this group that could come and help us immediately. We've worked out this group with our varsity during our Friday morning workouts so these varsity guys can see what's coming, and they know that.

"There are quite a few that will compete for jobs. Normally that would concern you as a head coach, but this is a special group of sophomores. That's not that big of a concern."

Grant said there are about 125 players participating now in spring workouts, and that number may jump to 140 to 145 when those participating in various spring sports complete their seasons in that sports. The Tigers' main focus will be to see who is willing to rise and fill the voids in the starting lineup that graduation has created.

"We're going to be looking for that early on," Grant said. "Just because they are currently penciled in as a guy means they're going to just get it. They have to earn it, and that's what we look forward as a staff in the early stages of spring football."

"We're replacing a lot of new faces. We have a new quarterback and a new offensive line, except for in a couple of spots. On the defensive side, we have to replace both corners and two linebacker positions, as well as some of our defensive line. We have to find those that want to win those jobs and take responsibility."

-- Henry Apple • @NWAHenry

FAYETTEVILLE

Bowers stays busy during offseason

Darius Bowers has been one busy Bulldog.

Bowers attended elite quarterback camps at Nashville and Dallas after playing basketball for Fayetteville. He's also been busy opening mail with scholarship offers that began with Central Arkansas and continued last week with an offer from Northern Iowa.

"Darius is a great kid and a quiet leader," Fayetteville coach Billy Dawson said of Bowers, who threw for nearly 3,500 yards and 34 touchdowns as a junior. "He's team-oriented and he puts in his work."

Fayetteville is set at quarterback for spring drills that begin on Tuesday. But there are holes to fill, especially at receiver and on defense.

"We lost 2,400 receiving yards, and we've got holes to fill in the back end of the secondary," Dawson said.

Fayetteville finished 8-5 overall and 5-2 in 7A-West Conference play. That record would've been better had the Bulldogs not lost some close games, including two one-point defeats to Bryant.

"We probably lost four or five games in the fourth quarter," Dawson said. "We had some guys won hadn't played a lot, but we've got to win the fourth quarter."

Fayetteville opens the season Aug. 24 at Vianney High School in Kirkwood, Mo.

-- Rick Fires • @NWARick

FARMINGTON

Cards facing overhaul on defense

The Cardinals will intensify their search for a quarterback and replacements on defense when spring practice for the varsity begins on Monday.

"We've got to find a quarterback and eight new starters on defense," Farmington coach Mike Adams said. "We've got to find people who can run and hit."

Seth Swain and Eric Hill are the leading candidates at quarterback to replace Trey Waggle, who passed for over 1,600 yards as a senior for the Cardinals. Swain was 2 of 4 and Hill 1 of 1 passing last year in backup roles.

Adams said Swain, Reid Turner, Chuck Carlson and Jarek Braslavely emerged as leaders during offseason workouts for Farmington, which finished 4-6 last season, including 3-4 in 5A-West Conference play.

The Cardinals open the season Aug. 31 at Prairie Grove.

-- Rick Fires • @NWARick

Sports on 05/06/2018

Print Headline: Spring Football Report

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