Greenwood has an opportunity this fall to capture its third straight Class 6A state title, its 10th overall and the third three-peat of championships, joining runs in 2005-2007 and 2010-12.
But coach Rick Jones and the Bulldogs aren't getting ahead of themselves.
2018 CONFERENCE STANDINGS
Little Rock Hall^0-7^1-9
2019 HOOTEN’S COACHES’ POLL
Little Rock Hall
SHINE ON ….
NAME Hunter Wilkinson
POSITION Running back
TWITTER HANDLE @HunterWilk30
THE DIGITS Had more than 1,100 all purpose yards for the Bulldogs as a sophomore. … Rushed for 750 yards and 17 touchdowns and caught 25 passes for 359 yards and five touchdowns … Runs a 4.8 40-yard dash on a laser time and 4.4 with a stopwatch. …. Bench presses 250 pounds with a 400-pound squat.
CRUSHING ON Football. No girl for me right now during football season.
I LISTEN TO Rap. Gunna is my favorite rapper.
I BINGE WATCH Duck Dynasty
I DRIVE A 2018 Chevy 1500
MOST PEOPLE DON’T KNOW I love to duck hunt.
MY HERO IS My dad, Jeff Wilkinson.
FAVORITE MEAL Chicken and rice.
WHAT I LOVE MOST ABOUT FOOTBALL IS Making my team happy running the football.
IN 10 YEARS I WILL Hopefully be an entrepreneur starting my own weight-lifting business.
"What we tell our guys is we're going to try to win today," said Jones, who's 175-24 at Greenwood. "We're going to try to do the best we possibly can today. We're not going to worry about yesterday. We're not going to worry about tomorrow. We're going to focus all our attention and energy on being the best we can today."
If that quote sounds familiar it should. The well-read Jones said it's a take-off of UCLA coach Chip Kelly, who led Oregon to the 2011 national championship game and coached in the NFL with the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers.
"Win today and try to do what we can do to do the very best we possibly can," Jones said.
The Bulldogs are favored by many to win their third straight 6A title and picked by the 6A-West conference coaches to win the league. But Jones points out Greenwood's 2019 team will be different than the ones that won titles in 2017 and 2018.
"That's high school football," he said. "You can't cut them. You can't waive them. You can't draft them. They're all walk-ons. You have to figure out that puzzle as soon as you possibly can, and that's part of the fun of the job. It's constantly changing. The personality of the team changes."
Greenwood will be breaking in a new quarterback in senior Jace Presley, who has been the team's junior varsity quarterback the last two years. Jones said the team has a lot of confidence in the 6-2, 182-pound Presley.
"Jace has been in waiting now for about three years," Jones said. "He's got a ton of reps. He knows the offense backwards and forwards. He's just got to step up now and be the guy."
Presley will have some help with all-conference junior running back Hunter Wilkinson (750 rushing yards, 359 receiving yards) and senior wideouts Treyton Dawson (58 receptions, 855 yards) and Lazaro Angel (44-509). But Jones said the key will be the offensive line, led by seniors Kevin Douglas (6-2, 271), Nathan Nethers (6-1, 217), Halen Carter (6-0, 218), Traven Nichols (5-10, 271) and Michael Emberson (5-8, 264).
"I think it's a huge responsibility on our offensive line to protect (the quarterback)," Jones said. "We've got to make sure that he stays upright and stays clean."
Defensively Greenwood must replace several starters from last year, but it still has veterans like lineman Aniken Lewis (5-8, 249) and Coleton Erwin (5-9, 264), linebacker Jayden Martin (5-7, 195) and safety Logan Workman (5-7, 141) in the mix.
Several teams in 6A will be gunning for Greenwood, including Benton (10-3), which Greenwood defeated twice in 2018. West Memphis went 11-1 in 2018 and is favored to repeat as 6A-East champions.
"Benton and West Memphis are both loaded talent-wise," Jones said, who added he expects El Dorado to also be in the mix under new coach Steven Jones who led Junction City to the 2018 Class 2A state title.
"I think they're excited and fired up," Rick Jones said. "We saw them in team camp. They look like a really, really formidable opponent."
Siloam Springs also hopes to continue its improvement under second-year coach Brandon Craig. The Panthers went 5-6 in 2018 and advanced to the Class 6A playoffs for the first time since 2014.
"Our expectation is that we are going to continue to improve and continue to compete at a higher level," Craig said. "We'll want to obviously move the needle from where it was last year. I think the expectations have grown in our program and people are excited and want to see us have success. But it still comes down to our kids making plays on the field and playing for one another. To keep moving that needle they're just going to have to commit to everything they can and doing whatever it takes to win."
Sports on 08/22/2019
Print Headline: CLASS 6A Greenwood focusing on today, not three-peat