The summer heat has arrived, the high school gridiron season is just around the corner, and Hooten’s Arkansas Football magazine is now on newsstands across the state.
There’s something reassuring about those things at a time when certain aspects of American society seem to be falling apart, especially in our culture, politics, and the news media.
But in small town America life goes on as usual, and life in Greenwood would not be the same without another season of Bulldogs’ football under Head Coach Rick Jones and his superlative staff of assistant coaches, winners of eight state titles since 2005.
Jones is about to begin his 16th season at the helm of what has become one of the most successful prep football programs in the entire nation. Overall, he has taken his teams to 11 state title games. He also won a state title coaching in Oklahoma before coming to Greenwood.
It’s precisely due to his past success and the tradition Jones has built in Greenwood that Hooten’s Arkansas Football has again picked the Bulldogs as the top team in Class 6A football for 2019.
The annual Arkansas gridiron bible is available at retail outlets and bookstores across the state, including Wal-Mart. The cost is $16.99 for a publication that features the Arkansas Razorbacks on the cover and in-depth reporting on the Hogs and other collegiate football programs in the state, plus all 201 high school teams.
Greenwood has reached the state championship game each of the last four seasons, winning the last two 6A titles. The ‘Dogs also haven’t lost a conference game since 2014. But Hooten’s is high on them for several good reasons beyond their winning tradition and excellent coaching staff.
While they don’t have a superstar player like a Connor Noland or Peyton Holt of the recent past, the Bulldogs have nine returning starters from last season, with good size on the offensive line and solid skill players at running back and receiver.
Running the show behind center will be senior quarterback Jace Presley, who has started the last two seasons for the junior varsity team, including a perfect 7-0 record in 2018. He has a strong, accurate arm and moves well in the pocket, according to Jones.
Presley is from a football family as well. He is the grandson of former Fort Smith Northside head coach Joe Fred Young and the nephew of GHS offensive coordinator Chris Young.
The defense also appears to be strong again after allowing just 13.4 points per game against league opponents last season under defensive coordinator Jason Gill, though the secondary will be young to start the season. The GHS defense has recorded six shutouts over the past two seasons.
Hooten’s has Greenwood picked #1 in Class 6A followed by Benton, West Memphis, El Dorado, and Russellville, giving the 6A West four of the top five spots. The Bulldogs beat Benton twice last season, once in league play (62-33) and again in the state title game (45-14).
If the prognosticators at Hooten’s are right, Greenwood could face another 6A West opponent in the 2019 championship game. The Bulldogs are also shooting for their third three-peat under Coach Jones after winning three straight titles in 2005-07 and 2010-12.
Of course, the games still must be played, and no one knows the future for certain, though Greenwood football has been predictably good for a long time now. As always, injuries could affect the outcome of a season or the 6A West could turn out to be a more difficult gauntlet to run than expected.
But local fans can take heart that Bulldogs’ football remains in the capable hands of Head Coach Rick Jones and his exceptional staff of assistant coaches, backed by a very supportive administration and community.
Despite whatever else may be going on in the world or across the nation, Friday nights this fall will be all about high school football – some of the best in the land right here in Greenwood.