No team in the 7-A West has endeavored to find its footing quite like the Rogers Heritage War Eagles. Heritage struggled to an 0-10 record last season and a change was made at the head coaching position. Steve Hoofkin takes over for Tony Travis this season. His job is not to win the 7-A West in 2019 but to demonstrate improvement in the War Eagle camp that the team can build on in the future.
Hoofkin has a bit of a quarterback competition to manage as he takes the reigns for the War Eagles. Hoofkin will have three quarterbacks to choose from going into fall camp. Jeb Brown, Dreagon Blackwell, and Brady Laird will all see snaps early in the season. Brown has some experience playing at signal caller, but he will need to demonstrate that he can sustain drives and finish with points being put on the board.
The War Eagles rushing attack has several solid options that can take some of the heat off of the quarterback position. Isaiah Tibbs, Jaheim Webb, Ethan Farris, and Daris Wiley will all see carries at the running back spot. Tibbs has a very direct running style and is quick to get north and south. Jaheim Webb is the speedster at the running back position and caused Fayetteville problems last season. Webb rushed for a little under 50 yards and a touchdown against the Purple Dogs last season. Farris and Wiley will both see time at the running back spot and split out wide at the wide receiver position.
Rogers Heritage has some impressive players at the wide receiver position. Ricky Perez makes for a tall target at 6'3", which means he is a threat in the red zone and a big play threat at any time. From a possession receiver standpoint Nick Winter will help keep drives alive and get the ball down the field. The wide receivers' position is a bright spot for the War Eagles and should be a unit that continues to improve throughout the season.
An area that must improve for the War Eagles is on the defensive side of the ball. The defensive end positions has two disruptive players manning each spot. Nicholas Martin and Carter Talley each both have the speed to cause problems for opposing offensive linemen. Both Martin and Carter have the ability to force the quarterback to make bad decisions while under pressure.
Linebacker is another position for the War Eagles that appears to be pretty strong on paper. Garrett Murdock impressed many observers during the spring and will be a player that can cause some problems in the 7-A West. Griffin Brown will have three years of experience this season and will provide leadership for the linebacking corps.
The secondary will lean heavily on safety Isaiah Tibbs. Tibbs has four interceptions throughout the course of his career and was impact player on the defensive side of the ball. Tommy Boyer will man one of the corner spots and he has the talent to cause problems for opposing wide receivers.
Any improvement that the War Eagles display may not be seen in the win total in the 2019 season. However, keeping the games competitive until the final whistle blows will be a step in the right direction for Rogers Heritage. War Eagles' fans should expect the team to pick up a few wins. The War Eagles may be a year away from a playoff appearance, but improvement will happen this season.
With Zak Clark at the helm, the Springdale Bulldogs have improved every year during his tenure. Springdale finished with a 7-4 record last season and made a playoff appearance. The Bulldogs lost a heartbreaker to Fort Smith Southside in the first round of the 2018 playoffs. Fan expectations have continued to grow for the Bulldogs under Clark's leadership and this year should be no different.
The quarterback position will see Connor Hutchins managing the keys to the offense. Hutchins saw limited action in 2018, passing for just under 50 yards. However, Hutchins has the talent and accuracy to be a dangerous quarterback in the 7-A West. Focusing attention on the passing game will be key to ensuring that Springdale can maintain drives.
Springdale's offense will rely on the rushing game to open up the passing game. The rushing game is in good hands with Darrell Parchman returning for his senior season. Parchman is also an excellent receiver out of the backfield and rushed for over 270 yards last season. Springdale fans should expect a big season from Parchman, because has the talent to line up all over the field for the Bulldogs. Clark should not have a problem getting the offense clicking on all cylinders as the season progresses.
The wide receiving corps is a talented group for the Bulldogs. Ladarius Wonsley impressed observers during the spring displaying solid hands and remarkable speed. Slot receiver Michael Bates creates problems for opposing secondaries with his quickness and precise route running. Springdale fans can also count on Darrell Parchman catching some passes out of the backfield.
Springdale's defense has the potential to be the most improved unit on the field. Defensive tackle Luis Herrera is looking to build upon a 2018 season where he racked up 33 tackles. Tristan Pollard is another player along the defensive front that Bulldogs' fans will want to closely watch this season. The defensive line will cause problems for opposing 7-A West offenses this season.
The Springdale linebacking corps will be led by Travon Westbrook. Westbrook saw playing time last season and has excellent size at 6'0" 225 lbs, Westbrook has the potential to become a player that people see on Saturdays, in a few years. The Bulldogs will be young in the linebacking corps, but talented. Chase Jones will be another player that Springdale fans will become familiar with during the season.
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The 7-A West has no shortage of quality cornerbacks and this statement is particularly true regarding the Springdale Bulldogs. The Springdale secondary will be led by Bryndell Cook. Cook has excellent speed and can match up well against the physical receivers in the 7-A West. Veteran leadership returns in the form of safety Stoney White. White is a playmaker at safety; last season he recovered a fumble and amassed 53 tackles. With the secondary having a wealth of experience, passing against the Springdale defense could be a challenge this season.
The Bulldogs may have some growing pains early, but this is a group that should make a playoff appearance again this season. Clark's Bulldogs have improved every season he has coached there, and this team could surprise the rest of the 7A-West.