Change Has Lasting Effect on High School Football

Visit Evin's Author Page

Ten years ago the Little Rock School District made changes to rules allowing freshmen to compete for spots on varsity high school football programs. Here is how the issue was reported at the time…

Freshmen football players at the LR Hall, LR Parkview, LR Fair and LR McClellan will be allowed to compete on varsity teams this fall.

A rule prohibiting freshmen from varsity football competition in Class AAAAA was waived because the LRSD doesn’t have a program for ninth-graders this season.

The district decided not to designate ninth-grade athletics in the 2003-2004 school year because of recent low numbers in football and girls’ athletics and scheduling problems that caused.

“The numbers were so low that we weren’t able to field a varsity, junior varsity and a ninth-grade team,” LRSD athletic director Johnny Johnson said. “We just settled that this was going to be the best solution for us and for the coaches in all sports. I think it’s really going to be beneficial to all sports with maybe the exception of boys’ basketball.”

With the absence of a ninth-grade team, many freshmen will end up playing with sophomores onLRSD high school football rules changes JV squads. “Realistically, you’re not going to have very many ninth-graders that can play varsity football,” Johnson said.

There are exceptions: Little Rock McClellan linemen Keith Jackson Jr., son of retired All-Pro Keith Jackson, and Raschaud Clifton started playing varsity as freshmen and became four-year starters. [August 3, 2003; Arkansas Democrat-Gazette]

In the fall of 2012, another of Keith Jackson’s sons made a splash as a ninth grader when Parkview tackle Kenyon Jackson earned his first varsity start against Greenwood. The Jacksons remain anomalies, though. For the most part, with the exception of LR Central, LRSD schools have continued having problems with turnout for their high school football programs in the last decade. In a few cases, according to sources, less than 40 kids in a given year have tried out for their team.

There are many reasons why northwest Arkansas high school football has surpassed central Arkansas football in the last decade, but one reason may be found in the different approaches the areas take toward ninth grade football. In northwest Arkansas, ninth graders are still in junior high and play heavy minutes at that level. In the four above-mentioned LRSD schools, many of the ninth graders who have played at the varsity level didn’t get as much field time as older teammates. Moreover, their varsity coaches are still obliged to invest time in them – which means the more developed 10th graders get less one-on-one attention.

This creates a domino effect which ultimately hurts the quality of football at all grade levels.

25 years ago

It has not been a peaceful week for Arkansas basketball coach Nolan Richardson. First, he had to deal with repercussions of a weekend arrest of his team’s top scorer Ron Huery. Huery was charged with carrying a dangerous weapon (loaded 9 mm automatic pistol), public drunkenness, reckless arrested at 2 a.m. on Saturday in his hometown of Memphis. According to a police report, he was driving a car with a flat tire at a high speed and had about 20 rounds of ammunition in the vehicle.

“I’ve talked with Ron and his mother and my concern at this point is Ron as a person rather than Ron and his basketball future,” Richardson said in a statement. “I want to make sure he receives the guidance and counseling he needs at this time.”

At the same time, it was confirmed one of Richardson’s top assistants, Andy Stoglin, is expected to resign. “I would like to be a head coach,” said Stoglin, adding that his ambition is something Richardson long knew about. “I’m just in the process of trying to see what my options are.”
Stoglin and Richardson were teammates at Texas-El Paso in the early 1960s. Stoglin had been a head coach at Southern and assistant at Oklahoma State before rejoining Richardson in 1986.

Little Rock television station KTHV reported Stoglin will be replaced on Richardson’s staff by graduate assistant Mike Anderson.

Stoglin, of course, wasn’t the only assistant on a Richardson staff with head coaching in his future. Scott Edgar and Nolan Richardson III, for instance, also went on to take the helm at other D1 programs. But, of all of them, Anderson achieved the most success as head coach.

Now, Mike Anderson is back in Arkansas, with a group of young assistants all his own. His staff includes Matt Zimmerman, T.J. Cleveland and Scotty Thurman, who’s director of student-athlete development.

Who on Mike Anderson’s current staff has the best chance at ending up with the most successful head coaching career?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

50 years ago

Razorback Danny Brabham starred in the College All-Stars’ 20-17 victory over the defending NFL champion Green Bay Packers. Brabham had been an All-SWC selection after playing on the defensive line, at linebacker and as a fullback in college. He was selected #6 overall by Houston in the AFL Draft and joined other rookies in the annual Chicago showcase pitting the nation’s best collegiate seniors from the previous year with the defending NFL champ. It was by far the most popular preseason sporting event in American history.

This 1963 upset was the last time the collegians beat the pros. Brabham, who played linebacker, had a big hand in the outcome. Late in the game, he recovered a fumble by Green Bay’s Jimmy Taylor to set up an All-Stars touchdown. Brabham’s ferocious hitting made him the rookie who most impressed the Green Bay coaches, according to a vintage program owned by Little Rock resident Jim Rasco. Rasco also attended the game.

The other Arkansans involved in the game played for Green Bay: Lew Carpenter (West Memphis), Willie Davis (Texarkana), Elijah Pitts (Conway) and Dave Hanner (Parkin). Receiver Thurman Walker, an El Dorado native who starred at the University of Illinois, was cut from the Packers shortly before this game, Rasco said. [August 3, 1963]


Benny Ellender

Benny Ellender

Arkansas State head football coach King Block abruptly quit less than two months before his team’s first game on September 21. Assistant Benny Ellender has replaced him as head coach. Block didn’t comment, but the cause is believed to be conflict with the administration. He is the fifth ASU coach to resign within the last year.

Block arrived from Idaho in 1954 as an aide to Gene Harlow before assisting Hugh “Bones” Taylor. He became head coach in 1960, accumulating a 13-14 record. Ellender, a Tulane grad, takes over a program that appears to be on the rise after finishing 6-3 last season.

This spring, ASU and four Texas schools formed the Southland Conference, which begins football competition in 1964. ASU’s plate this season is full with near-major opponents such as The Citadel, Mississippi Southern and Louisiana Tech. [August 1, 1963; Blytheville Courier-News]

100 years ago

The Lloyds beat the Stiehls 7-6 in 11 innings to all but wrap up the pennant in the Little Rock City League. Bennie Pritchett hurled the first nine innings for the Stiehls, giving 13 hits and six runs. “Sunny” Herrick replaced him, allowing only a hit.

The game last awhile. Indeed, “the battle dragged along so slowly that the fans and fannettes began to grow tired, and many of them said:

“However, the game was full of thrills and pleased greatly throughout.”

Above comic taken from original article as found in the August 3rd, 1913 edition of the Arkansas Democrat. The complete post is below.



Evin Demirel Tweets, too.

Tags: , , , , , ,