Little Rock Hall won just one game last year in Kipchoge VanHoose's debut season as head coach, but that doesn't mean the Warriors aren't trending upward.
"We're in a better place right now," VanHoose said. "I know we didn't get the amount of victories that we'd hoped for, but it's about the process. We wanted commitment and consistency, and I think we have that now with these guys.
LR HALL AT A GLANCE
COACH Kipchoge VanHoose
2017 RECORD 1-9, 0-7
KEY RETURNERS RB Dontevious Patterson (Jr., 6-0, 175); QB Braylon Coulter (Sr., 6-1, 190); LB Gary Lewis (Jr., 5-11, 164); RB/WR Dante Green (Sr., 5-9, 180); OL Trace Crenshaw (Jr., 5-11, 230)
Aug. 31;LR Fair
Sept. 7;at Mills
Sept. 14;at Jacksonville
Sept. 21;at Greenwood
Sept. 28;Lake Hamilton
Oct. 12;at Sheridan
Oct 19;at Russellville
Oct. 26;Siloam Springs
Nov. 2;El Dorado
Pulaski County preview
The ninth in a series previewing Pulaski County high school football teams
"The mindset is different because they know what's expected of them. They've bought into the process. They're working hard every day and now it's about progression."
Progress has been hard to come by for Hall over the past 24 years. The Warriors' last winning season came in 1993, and they haven't beaten a team that finished a season with a winning record since 1996. Last year, Hall was outscored 476-97 en route to a 1-9 record, which was the seventh time in the past nine seasons it has lost at least nine games.
But VanHoose believes the Warriors' struggles are ending. Roster numbers have increased, and the second-year coach sees a more focused group than the one he inherited 13 months ago.
The Warriors also have added incentive to succeed. Hall will play in a refurbished stadium after Scott Field underwent renovations this summer, beginning with a new turf surface. Visiting side bleachers and concession stands also were installed as well as other upgrades to the complex.
"There's a little more excitement floating around the football program right now," VanHoose said. "We're definitely excited because this is a chance to see exactly where we stand in Year Two. We're cautiously optimistic."
The Warriors return three starters on both sides of the ball and are moving from the 6A-East Conference to the 6A-West, which has produced the past two state champions with Russellville in 2016 and Greenwood in 2017.
Hall again will field a young team but will have some experience on offense with athlete Dante Green (Sr., 5-9, 180 pounds) and running back Dontevious Patterson (Jr., 6-0, 175), both of whom VanHoose said will get an abundance of touches. Most of the projected starters on the offensive line are either sophomores or juniors. Trace Crenshaw (Jr., 5-11, 230) has the most experience up front after starting nine of the team's 10 games last season.
The Warriors allowed 47.6 points per game a year ago but expect to be improved on defense, particularly with former Little Rock McClellan coach Anthony Chambers becoming defensive coordinator.
"We should definitely be stronger on that side of the ball than we were last year," VanHoose said. "We've got a lot of athletic guys on that side, and coach Chambers brings a lot of experience and knowledge. So we feel pretty good about where we stand over there."
The defensive line is young, but the back seven should be the strength of the unit, led by senior Braylon Coulter (6-1, 190) and junior Gary Lewis (5-11, 164) at linebacker. Sophomore safety Dylan Brown (5-9, 160) will be one to watch in the secondary along with senior defensive back Tre'Sean Morgan (5-5, 150).
"I tell my team all the time that we're chasing W's," VanHoose said. "We've taken baby steps, and we want to value wins and losses. But you can't have the nine- and 10-win seasons without commitment and consistency.
"I can't preach that enough, and the guys understand that. So we're not looking back, only looking forward, and we're headed in the right direction."
Sports on 08/08/2018
Print Headline: Warriors put faith in progress