Excitement is in the air in Van Buren for the 2019 football season. Even though, the Pointers lose head coach Casey Dick, they are left with 13 returning starters coming back from the 2018 season. Crosby Tuck takes over for Dick this season and inherits the nucleus for what could be a dangerous 2019 team.
The Van Buren offense will continue to work out of the spread formation. Van Buren will utilize multiple quarterbacks throughout the course of the season, the first of those being Gary Phillips. Phillips passed for two touchdowns against a talented Fayetteville defense last season and should be a weapon in the passing game. Junior Jaiden Henry will also get an opportunity at the quarterback position. Henry is an accurate passer but is also considered a dangerous runner as well. Henry rushed for over 450 yards last season. The quarterback position is in good hands with both Phillips and Henry providing solid options at the position.
Crosby Tuck and the Pointers will have some consistency at the running back position. Brayden Rivas should see the majority of carries for the Pointers this season after rushing for almost 500 yards last season. In the victory over Rogers, Rivas racked up three touchdowns on the ground and helped lead the Pointers to a 30-20 win over the Mounties. If the threat from the passing game can take pressure off the run, this could be a dangerous offense to contend with in 2019.
With the Pointers running primarily out of the spread formation, the passing game will take priority. Van Buren has a one of the most talented wide receivers in the 7-A in the form of Jude Bartholomew. Batholomew has good speed and racked up almost 800 yards receiving last season. Another receiving option is Maury Newton, Newton has the speed and makes the plays to keep the drives going.
Van Buren High School Van Buren High School
The offensive line for the Pointers is not the biggest in the 7-A West but it is an athletic group. Pointers' fans should look for Jackson Hurst to hold down either the guard or the tackle spot. Van Buren fans should look for the offensive line to continue to gel as a unit and to improve as the year progresses.
The Pointers' defense has the potential to be the most improved unit of the team this season. Van Buren fans should look for the defensive line to be a disruptive force. Defensive end Mile Kuykendall is a player that should have a big season, after racking up 18 tackles last season. D. J. Riley will likely see time at both the defensive end and tackle positions and has been a force the past few seasons. Riley was in on 40 tackles and 2 sacks last season and has the potential to improve upon those numbers this season.
From the linebacker position, Pointers' fans should look for Devin Swearingen to be the playmaker on the defensive side of the ball once again this season. Swearingen had 90 tackles and forced two fumbles last season. T.J. Dyer will see some time at the linebacker spot this season and should cause problems for the opposing offense. The linebacking corps should be a unit that causes problems for opposing offenses throughout the season.
The Pointers' secondary is an experienced group. David Evans returns to man one of the cornerback spots for Van Buren. Evans racked up over 50 tackles last season and picked off three passes. Trent Ball is returning at the free safety spot and is looking to improve upon a season where he had 54 tackles and an interception return for a touchdown. The Van Buren secondary may be one of the most talented units on the team as the 2019 season approaches.
A playoff appearance is not out of the question for the Pointers this season. Van Buren fans should expect some growing pains at the start, but this should be an exciting season for Crosby Tuck and the Pointers.
The Fayetteville Purple Dogs have been one of the most impressive programs in the state of Arkansas over the past ten years. However, challenges await Fayetteville and their new head coach Casey Dick, who will make the trip up Interstate-49 from Van Buren. Dick replaces Billy Dawson who stepped aside in April following a 9-3 season in 2018.
Fayetteville High School never seems to suffer from a shortage of talent, and this season will be no different. On the offensive side of the ball, the Purple Dogs have a dangerous quarterback/wide receiver combination. Quarterback Hank Gibbs and wide receiver Connor Flannigan make up one of the state's most dangerous pass/catch duos. Flannigan caught over 100 passes last season and scored 20 touchdowns. Gibbs had an outstanding game against the Rogers Mounties where he threw for over 400 yards and six touchdowns.
The Fayetteville passing game has been dynamic over the past five years and the 2019 squad has the potential to be a dangerous team, particularly if the running game can be a force. Two names to keep an eye on in the backfield will be Jacob Sharits and junior running back Kameron Ingram. Ingram had an impressive spring and should be a force at the position this fall. Sharits is a powerful running back and is difficult to bring down. The duo of Ingram and Sharits gives the ground game for the Purple Dogs a good one-two punch for this upcoming season.
The offensive line for the Purple Dogs should provide stability and help ensure the offense is a solid unit. Fayetteville will need Cody Hix to lock down the center position, but this should be an area of strength for the Purple Dogs.
At times last year, the Fayetteville defense kept them in games until the offense could find its rhythm. The defense is anchored by 300-pound Jalon Oliver at the defensive tackle position. Clogging up the running lanes; allows Purple Dog linebacker Quade Mosier to create havoc all over the field. Mosier has several schools recruiting him including Oklahoma, Central Florida, Air Force, and Army. In the secondary, Purple Dog fans should look for safety Sebastian Rodriguez to build upon last season. Rodriquez had 25 tackles last season and the 2019 season has the potential to be an even bigger one for the junior safety.
Fayetteville resides in the most competitive conference in Arkansas and breaking in a new football coach will create a challenging and interesting season for the Purple Dogs. The Purple Dogs have playmakers in Mosier and Flanigan on the defensive and offensive sides of the ball, respectively. Fayetteville fans should look for a playoff run, but how deep the Purple Dogs advance will depend upon the match ups come November.