Expectations are High for Arkansas High Football
It's the second year for Razorback Head Football Coach Barry Norton, and things are looking good at AHS.
Coach Norton says it helps to have an entire year under their belts at Arkansas High. He talks about the different approach this year,saying " The biggest difference is the kids now know us as a staff and we as a staff know them. We all are on the same page as far as expectations go. It is tough taking on a program that has been down. Everything has to be addressed. You have to find ways to reach your kids, change attitudes of the kids as well as the school and community. If you take over a winning program you try not to screw it up. It isn’t that hard. Changing a culture that hasn’t experienced success is a day by day process. Lots of work but lots of fun."
One thing this team should have is plenty of experienced leadership. They are stocked with lots of seniors according to Norton, "This class has been forced into playing lots of football over the last couple of years due to small classes in front of them. The good thing is they have played lots of football."
Coach Norton expects to have 8 or 9 guys that can contribute effectively on the offensive line. He believes the backs and receivers will have a huge year for the Razorbacks. " Our skill positions on offense are going to be a strength of ours. We have 3 wrs that can do it all, run, jump, catch , block, great hands, ect….. We will more than likely rotate 3 running backs will all 3 having a strong skill set."
At quarterback look for a couple of guys back there taking the snap from center. Both will bring very different skill sets. Norton says both are very capable and that it is important to maximize their abilities and play to what they do best. "We believe and trust both kids to play and win."
Defense has seemingly always been a strong suit at Arkansas High, and that is not likely to change in 2018. Coach expects to rotate as many as 6 players in the interior spots defensively and play as many as 5 kids at defensive end. This he says hopefully keep everyone fresh and fast.
Two starting linebackers from last years squad return and bring a wealth of experience. Norton says that is an area that they need to create more depth.
The secondary also returns several starters from last year. Coach wants to be able to cross train the kids to play both corner and safety. He says they are really talented int he secondary, but that they need more kids to step up and contribute.
Special teams, are just that "Special" according to Norton, who says, " Huge point of emphasis for us each day is the kicking game. We like our schemes and the work that the kids are putting into being a special teams guy. Not everyone can be a special teams guy. It takes a certain toughness, courage and unselfishness. There is a reason they are called special teams."
The schedule will be very entertaining for Razorback fans this year. The Hogs are in a new 5A conference which will be chocked full for new teams and new places. Norton expects it to be a tough conference including Little Rock McClellan, which has played in the state championship game two years in a row.
But it starts with a fun and competitive non-conference schedule. The Razorbacks begin the season on Friday August 24th on the road against Shiloh Christian. The Hogs home opener at Razorback Stadium is the 31st against cross town Liberty-Eylau. The 'Battle for the Axe", the annual rivalry game with Texas High will be September 7th across the state line at Tiger Stadium at Grim Park.
It promises to be an exciting year for Razorback fans, that could extend into December this year and a date in Little Rock for a shot at a state championship. That would be just fine with Coach Norton, who had this to say about expectations for his team this year," Our expectations are simply to be the best that we can be. To Win Every day. To be the best Razorback possible. We want to be champions, conference and state champions but we know it starts at practice each and every day."
Good luck to Head Coach Barry Norton, his staff, and players this year. GO RAZORBACKS!!!!