LR Central hires Dumas football coach Shelton

Dumas coach George Shelton was hired over 26 other candidates to lead the Little Rock Central football program.

The Little Rock School District announced the hiring during a school board meeting Thursday night.

Shelton replaces Kent Laster, who left in January to become the coach at University High School in Waco, Texas. Shelton will be the fourth Tigers coach since 1975, following Bernie Cox, Ellis "Scooter" Register and Laster.

Shelton has been a head coach for 16 years at Augusta, Dollarway, Watson Chapel and Dumas.

"First off, it's just an awesome opportunity and a blessing to have this opportunity to take the lead at Little Rock Central," Shelton said. "It's a historical program in athletics and academics, and even on the social front they have been in the lead in a lot of areas."

Little Rock School District Athletic Director John Daniels said Shelton is well respected throughout the state.

"You cannot find one person in the coaching fraternity that will say a negative thing about George," Daniels said.

A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Monticello, Shelton began his coaching career as an assistant at Warren before joining the staff at Pine Bluff at the age of 25.

"I first encountered Central when I was a young coach at Pine Bluff High School with Marion Glover, and we played Central at Quigley [Stadium]," Shelton said. "I think Central had beaten Pine Bluff 13 years in a row. That was like unbelievable for us to go in there and win the ballgame 13-12. It's certainly a program that I've admired from afar."

After two seasons at Pine Bluff, he joined the Air Force in order to see the world. After eight years, he rejoined Glover's staff and helped the Zebras win back-to-back state titles in the early 1990s.

His first head coaching job was at Augusta, where he led the Red Devils to the Class 2A state finals in 2001 before leaving for Dollarway.

He led the Cardinals to the Class 3A state title game in 2004 and Class 4A title game in 2007. During his seven years at Watson Chapel, he took the Wildcats to state semifinals three times.

Shelton then took a few years away from football for personal reasons before joining the staff at Warren under Bo Hembree for four years, then being hired at Dumas as the head coach.

Hembree and the Lumberjacks played for two state titles while Shelton was on staff.

"I was very bless in getting to hire him here in 2016," Hembree said. "He and I have been friends for a long time. He's a kid magnet. The kids loving playing for him. He left here and went to Dumas and turned that around. It's a great hire for Little Rock Central. I don't think they could've done any better."

Shelton led the Bobcats to a 9-4 record and to the Class 4A quarterfinals in his only season at Dumas last year. Shelton detailed his coaching philosophy.

"I think pretty much what I've been able to do in years past is establish a strong running game and certainly be able to play fundamentally sound defensively," he said.

He also plans to take a book from Hembree and utilize his Spread offense and passing game.

"I want to thank Coach Hembree for giving me an opportunity to resume my career at Warren," Shelton said. "He's been on the cutting edge, I would to say the renaissances of high school football in the state of Arkansas in terms of Spread offense and throwing the ball. We certainly want to implement some of those concepts."

Shelton won over many people during the interview process.

"We had a very diverse group on the first interview panel, and we had a very diverse group with parents and everybody else on the second panel and man he blew them away," Daniels said.