SEARCY: Lions return experience under new coach Kelley

Conference: 7A/6A East
Coach: Mark Kelley
’14 Record: 4-7 (3-4)

The Searcy Lions found a way in 2014, winning just enough conference games to earn a berth into the 6A state playoffs. The Lions return great experience from 2014 — six starters return on offense and eight on defense this fall. Mark Kelley takes over the program after serving previously as the offensive coordinator.

Senior Andrew Neaville returns at quarterback. The 501 Football Team honoree threw for 1,850 yards and 16 touchdowns last fall and rushed for another seven touchdowns. 

“Andrew is a team leader who leads by example and is always willing to put the team first,” Kelley said. “He’s a good teammate because he puts the team first over personal goals, and he is always looking for a way to help us be successful as a team.”

Senior receiver Michael Parsley. (Todd Owens photo)

Luke Dixon returns at running back. The senior rushed for more than 1,000 yards last fall, punching it in the end zone 11 times. Junior Monte Gentry paves the way for Dixon at fullback. Senior Wallace Robinson is the Lions’ top returner at receiver. Robinson pulled in 40 receptions for 654 yards and two touchdowns in 2014. Senior Tanner Werley starts at tight end, and junior Flave Carpenter returns to lead the offensive line from the crucial left tackle spot.

Seniors Jordan Slaughter (end), Noah Ford (end) and Jimmie Pollanen (tackle) return on the defensive line. Senior Tristion Brackenridge and junior DeAirus Whitney return at linebacker. Seniors Austin McFarlin (strong safety), Michael Parsley (free safety) and Lee Chambers (corner back) and junior Jackson Hall (corner back) fill out the secondary.

Senior running back Luke Dixon. (Todd Owens photo)

“Strengths would be our defensive front and our offensive skill players,” Kelley said. “Weaknesses are an inexperienced offensive line. Many teams will be better in 2015 in the 7A/6A East. Mountain Home and Marion will be much improved over the past couple of seasons.”