LITTLE ROCK In the history of Perryville football, the Mustangs had reached the playoffs just twice in the 20th century.
Then came head coach Doug Corley. Last season Corley led the Mustangs to their third consecutive trip to the playoffs and many believe that this year will be the fourth.
Seven years ago, when Corley was hired, Perryville was on the brink of canceling its football program. But now, Corley has turned the team into a perennial playoff contender.
"Personally, I want to keep doing the best job I can do," Corley said. "I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day and know I didn't cheat the kids by not giving my best."
While Corley believes that the players and the community were a little skeptical of him when he first arrived, he now feels that he has been accepted by everyone.
Although this was the first head-coaching job for Corley, the 42-year-old brought 11 years of assistant coaching experience as well as collegiate playing experience with him.
Before taking the job at Perryville, Corley was an assistant coach at Morrilton for seven years, and the four years previous to that he had a chance to be an assistant at his alma mater, Stuttgart, under his former head coach, George Burke.
Burke, along with assistantcoach Walter Fisher and Harold Horton at the University of Central Arkansas, have all been instrumental in shaping Corley into the coach he is today.
"I knew I wanted to be a coach ever since I started playing football," Corley said. "I really looked up to the coaches we had there [at Stuttgart]. Ilearned a lot from them about the hard work and dedication it takes not only as a player but as a coach."
Corley has tried to pass those same lessons down to his players.
In a few years Corley will have a new challenge - coaching his son. Tyler, 9, is beginning to show interest in football, and Corley sees it as a unique opportunity.
"It's going to be interesting to coach him," Corley said. "He'll probably listen to the other coaches more than me."
Corley's other child, 11-year-old Hannah, will be on the sidelines cheering for her father's team beginning thisseason. During a cheerleading camp in the summer, Hannah was named an all-star as a seventh-grader, a feat that has her father beaming with pride.
Being able to coach his son with his daughter cheering the team on is one thing that Corley will be able to add to his list of highlights as a coach. Other fond memories for Corley include being hired by his formercoach to go home and coach the team for which he played. As an assistant basketball coach at Stuttgart, he helped lead the Ricebirds to the state championship in 1992.
Another personal highlight for Corley is the Perryville football program making the playoffs for the third year in a row last year.
Corley is not a coach to create a personal-highlight reel; he wants to instill the same values and work ethic in his players that his coaches gave to him.
"I would like them to know that there's a bond they form with other players," Corley said. "They got to learn to sacrifice their own self a little bit for the good of the team, and that's the hardest thing for a kid to learn."
Corley believes he has many years of coaching left to do.
"It's something that you enjoy or you don't," Corley said.
River Valley Ozark, Pages 138 on 08/05/2007