Football gearing up with opening of school
By Richard White
Area teachers reported for professional development training this past Monday, which also marked the official beginning of football practice for the Greenwood Bulldogs. School opens next Monday, August 14th, with nearly 900 GHS students reporting for their first day of classes.
To accommodate the professional development schedule and to beat the August heat, the Bulldogs opened practice at 6 a.m. last Monday under the lights of Smith-Robinson Stadium.
Also present was offensive line coach Brian Sims, who recently returned home after spending more than two months in the intensive care wing of a Tulsa hospital burn unit battling an extremely rare and potentially fatal skin condition.
Still weak from his ordeal and months away from full recovery, Sims was a welcome and inspiring presence on the field for the players and his fellow coaches.
“Coach Sims is doing well,” said Head Coach Rick Jones. “He’s coaching every morning with us and getting stronger. The kids are working well,” he added. “But we have a long way to go and much improvement is needed to get where we want to be. We have to focus and make sure we take advantage of every day we have.”
Jones has about 100 players working hard in preparation for what should be another stellar gridiron season for the smallest school in Class 6A.
But as most GHS fans already know, it’s not the size of the dog that counts. What matters most is the fight in the dog, something the Bulldogs have proven quite well since joining Class 6A in 2012.
Greenwood moved up to the state’s second largest classification with a bang, finishing 14-0 and winning the state title in its first year in 6A. The Bulldogs also reached the state finals in each of the last two seasons, losing to Pine Bluff and Russellville. Since 2012 the Bulldogs have posted a remarkable record of 57-7.
Hooten’s Arkansas Football magazine, the state’s premiere gridiron publication, once again picks the Bulldogs to reach the state finals and win the 6A championship. Pine Bluff, El Dorado, Jonesboro, Benton, and West Memphis are also highly ranked in Class 6A.
Greenwood returns about half of last season’s starters and has one of the top offensive backfields in the state, including senior quarterback Connor Noland and senior running back Kenny Wood. Most of the team’s top receivers also return along with several veteran linemen. Senior nose guard John Womack is the anchor of a strong defensive line.
The regular season begins Friday, September 1st at home against the Fort Smith Northside Grizzlies. The Bulldogs will also host Fort Smith Southside on September 8th before traveling to Alma on the 15th. Both Fort Smith schools are Class 7A and Greenwood currently has a 10-game winning streak against 7A teams.
Bulldogs fans will get a chance to meet the team on Monday during the annual Kick-Off event at Smith-Robinson Stadium starting at 6 p.m. All football players, coaches, and support staff, including spirit groups, from grades 7-12 will be introduced on the field.
The GHS varsity dance team and varsity cheerleaders will also hold a Brown Bag Special fundraiser starting at 5:30 p.m. before Monday’s Kick-Off event. Those who purchase the special meal-to-go for $7.00 will receive a grilled chicken sandwich, a bag of chips, a cookie, and a bottle of water.
This coming Saturday is also the annual media day for football at Smith-Robinson Stadium for grades 7-12. Players should bring their previously distributed picture form and arrive at least 30 minutes before their scheduled photo shoot to have time to get into uniform. A list of the scheduled photo times is available on the Greenwood Dog Pound website and its Facebook page.