MORRILTON: New coach is leading the way for Devil Dogs

“It’s a very, very difficult league, obviously, one of the best, regardless of classification, two or three leagues in the state,” said McNabb, who arrives in Conway County after serving as defensive coordinator at Russellville. “We know it’ll be difficult. There are great coaches in the league, but we’re looking forward to the challenge, and our kids will be very prepared and ready to play once we get to conference.”

With realignment, Central Arkansas Christian leaves the league for the Southwest, and Huntsville replaces the Mustangs. But the West’s traditional powers remain. McNabb expects Greenwood and Alma would again vie for the conference title.

“Greenbrier will probably challenge them; they’re very talented with their quarterback (Neal Burcham),” he said. “And those are our first three conference games.

We’re going to jump right into the middle of it as soon as the conference starts.”

Finishing among the top four to make the Class 5A state playoffs would be huge for the Devil Dogs.

“That would be a big, big accomplishment because of what we’ve done the past couple of years and what we lost off last year’s team,” McNabb said. “But we’re heading in the right direction. We’re playing hard and with a good attitude.

“And that’s the way you build things. Everything else takes care of itself.”

But it will be an uphill climb. The Devil Dogs, who will run a Spread offense and 3-4 defensive scheme, return just four starters on offense and four on defense. Justin Crisswell, the team’s leading running back in 2009, has gone on to Louisiana-Monroe.

“We’re going to play a lot of younger kids, so our weaknesses will be inexperience overall and youth,” McNabb said. “We just want to play hard and really get to where we’re competing every down and just do things right, pay attention to detail. We feel like the wins and losses will take care of themselves if we do those things.”

Team strengths will be both lines.

The defensive line will be manned by senior tackle D.J. Thompson (5-10, 215), senior Myron Brooks (5-11, 270), junior Tom Wilson (6-0, 250) and junior Matthew Bowles (6-0, 290). Expected to start on the offensive line are seniors Tyler Chamberlain (6-2, 285), Josh Lentz (6-0, 225) and Ryan Elias (6-0, 235); junior Ryan Wright (5-11, 275) and sophomore Gilberto Garcia (6-1, 210). Javontia Foster will spell them.

Defensively, senior Dusty Yarbrough (5-10, 185) and junior Josh Bartlett (5-10, 195) are set at inside linebacker, but the outside positions have a lot of question marks.

“Zach Hood, Brandon Rogers, Austin Hardiman and Ronny Willis will all play a lot (at OLB),” McNabb said. “I’m not sure who will start.”
The secondary will include senior Dylan Erwin (5-9, 160) at safety, Devin Cornwell at safety or corner and senior Jacob Spence (6-2, 155) at corner or safety.

Offensively, the receiving corps includes sophomore Montrell Hood (6-1, 180), junior Warren Leapheart (6-3, 190), Forrest Been and Jake Wilson. Junior David Ford (5-9, 165) is set at quarterback, with senior Kyle Rohlman (5-9, 180) at halfback and sophomore Jamar Crisswell (5-9, 155) and Paris Avery at tailback.

5 Players to Watch:

D.J. Thompson (Sr. DL)
Tyler Chamberlain (Sr. OL)
Josh Lentz (Sr. OL)
Dusty Yarbrough (Sr. LB)
Dylan Erwin (Sr. S)


Sept. 3    at Russellville
Sep. 10    at Dardanelle
Sep. 17    Searcy
Sep. 24    Alma*
Oct. 1    at Greenwood*
Oct. 8    Greenbrier*
Oct. 15    at Vilonia*
Oct. 22    Harrison*
Oct. 29    at Huntsville*
Nov. 5    S. Springs*
* 5A-West conference game