Changes made as Poole era begins
BY MICHAEL YOUNG CONTRIBUTING WRITER
August 28, 2011
LITTLE ROCK Bald Knob native Jeromy Poole enters his first year as head coach of the Newport Greyhounds, and he’s making big changes.
Newport will get away from its tradition
Poole has been
around a successful Spread offense. He was Greenwood’s defensive coordinator for the past five years.
During that time, Greenwood won four conference and three state championships and also produced Arkansas Razorback quarterback Tyler Wilson.
Before that, Poole assisted at Fordyce (2003-05).
“At Fordyce, I worked for coach RedParker,” said Poole, a University of Central Arkansas alumni. “He’s a living legend and was awesome to work for. The biggest thing I learned from him was communication skills.
It was unbelievable to see how he interacted with people.
“At Greenwood, coach [Rick] Jones was probably the most organized person I have ever been involved with. His structure of a program is second to none. Here at Newport, we’ll take the X and O stuff from everywhere we’ve been, but we will obviously do a lot of the things they did at Greenwood,” Poole said.
Newport has also changed its crackdown on academics, which caused several playersto be ineligible for parts of last season. But make no mistake; work in the classroom is still first priority, Poole said.
“Part of being a coach is making sure your players are eligible. It’s not ‘just play for me and I’m done with you,’” Poole said.
“We will have mandatory study halls to help them with their academics. Every coach is certified in some academic subject, but if we find a couple kids struggling with stuff we aren’t comfortable with, we will find teachers who can tutor them.” On the field, Michael Reynolds, a 5-foot-10, 165-pound senior, is the top prospect at quarterback. The speedster (4.6) collected 2,100 total rushing and passing yards last season.
Classmate Frank Brown (5-7, 155), who also possesses 4.6 speed, didn’t play last season but is the likely starting running back.
Sophomore Kristen Crite (5-7, 155) was also battling for playing time.
“They’re both doing an outstanding job,” Poole said.
Korde Taylor (5-7, 140) will move from running back to receiver. The senior is a blur with 4.4 speed.
“He will be a great receiver for us,” he said.
Deshawn Binkley, Grant Black, Reed Johnson, Garrett Smith, Shufon Alcorn and Terrell Williams “are all working at receiver and doing a great job,” Poole said. “We compete for positions every day and don’t want anyone to get comfortable.” The top prospects on the offensive line are junior center Will Bowen (5-11, 225), senior left tackle Austin Carter (5-11, 190), junior left guard Lance Connor (5-8, 175), junior right guard Maurice Killingsworth (5-10, 200) and senior right tackle David Williams (6-1, 225).
With an average weight of 203 pounds, Newport’s offensive line will rely on technique rather than bulk, Poole said.
“On the line, we have a chance to be very competitive up front. There’s not much depth, and we’re not very big, but with the scheme we’re running, I don’t think it will be that big of a factor,” Poole said. “With this style of offense, I think we will have several playmakers. In the past, Newport has had a stud running back, and it’s been successful then, but teams are loading the box against them. We’re spreading it out which will
make defenses have to cover us more.” The defense is also getting a facelift.
“We’re going from the old school 50 to a
4-3 look,” Poole said. “We will have multiple
coverages. I like to move the front a lot with
a lot of zone and man blitzes. I like bring
ing a lot of pressure. We will set some base
defenses at times, but not often. We want
to force the offense to do something it isn’t
comfortable doing.” But change doesn’t come easy, Poole said.
“The biggest challenge for us is teaching
the kids a new scheme. The seniors have
been doing the same thing since seventh
grade, and we are making a complete over
all,” he said.
At defensive end, Devonte Armstrong,
Donavon McCrary, Black, Asonta Shelland Reed Johnson were battling for playing time.
Tim Brown, Chris Grady, Stephen Alcorn, Kenyon Evans and Austin Carter were working on the defensive line, while Williams, Brown, Taylor, Demetrius Nelson and Logan Gann lined up at cornerback.
Ian Edwards, Ira Crotts, Stephen Neal, Tyler Davis and Andrew Manuel were working at outside linebacker while Jacoby Williams, Connor and Ramero Macias were lining up at middle linebacker.
At safety, John Hutchinson, Binkley, Alcorn, Krite and Warren Smith are the top prospects.
Poole said he’s still undecided on whowill handle the kicking duties.
“We are still looking. That is an area we definitely need to focus on,” Poole said.
The Greyhounds are picked to finish third in the 2-4A Conference behind Heber Springs and Stuttgart. Lonoke, Clinton, Marianna, Cave City and SouthsideBatesville round out the preseason coaches’ poll.
“Heber Springs reminds me of Greenbrier,” Poole said. “My first three years at Greenwood, we dominated them. Then [Greenbrier] coach [Randy] Tribble turned them around. Coach [Steve] Janski has done the same thing at Heber Springs.
“Stuttgart has a lot of tradition, and Lonoke is always tough. Clinton won the conference last season, Marianna is loaded with talent, Cave City is a ground-andpound defense, and Southside Batesville will be improved with coach [Kenny] Simpson.
“Coach Simpson is from Greenwood. I was talking to him during the 7-on-7 season, and that guy has it going good. He has them believing in what they are doing andI think he’s turning that program around.
With what he’s doing over there, I think they could be another Heber Springs.” Newport won only four games last season and was in jeopardy of not making the playoffs. The Greyhounds closed the regular season with a 35-12 decision against Marianna, then a 49-20 victory at Southside Batesville. The win at Southside secured Newport’s 24th-straight playoff appearance.
“Trust me, I hear about the streak,” Poole said with a laugh. “It’s the state’s longest active streak, but we don’t talk to the kids about it. All we are focused on is competing and work ethic. I know that’s cliche, but it’s true. But yes, the pressure is there. I’d rather be a part of that than a program where there are low expectations.”NEWPORT GREYHOUNDS
SEPT. 2 .....................@ BATESVILLE
SEPT. 9 .................... @ BALD KNOB
SEPT. 16 ............................WYNNE
SEPT. 23 ...................... CAVE CITY*
SEPT. 30 .. ...................@ LONOKE*
OCT. 7 ....................... STUTTGART*
OCT. 14 ................ HEBER SPRINGS*
OCT. 21 .......................@ CLINTON*
OCT. 28 ................... @ MARIANNA*
NOV. 4 ....... SOUTHSIDE BATESVILLE*
Three Rivers, Pages 36 on 08/28/2011
Three Rivers 36