The Rotary Club of West Pine Bluff held their monthly meeting on Thursday, and football was the topic of discussion. For the second consecutive year, the Rotary Club focused in on the upcoming football season by highlighting the Hooten's Arkansas Football magazine.
Barry Grooms of Hooten's served as the keynote speaker, and he gave insight on the magazine, along with general information about football within the state of Arkansas.
"What we like to focus on at Hooten's Arkansas Football is the in-state guys and the in-state recruiting," Grooms said. "Those guys getting a chance to further their education and their playing careers is what we're thankful for."
Grooms has been with Hooten's since 1999, and over that time he's become very familiar with football in Southeast Arkansas.
Pine Bluff High, Watson Chapel, Dumas, Rison and Fordyce all had representatives to attend this year's meeting. Three Universities were represented as well: The University of Arkansas at Monticello, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Henderson State University in Arkadelphia.
This year, Hooten's celebrates their 25th anniversary, and Grooms opened up by giving acknowledgment to that. He then went into football in Southeast Arkansas and the success that has come with it.
"Football in Southeast Arkansas has been very successful over the past 40-50 years," Grooms said. "You can just look recently at Pine Bluff High and their four straight title game appearances. Pine Bluff High has 51 playoff victories, which is the second most in the 6A-7A, and that's quite an accomplishment."
Grooms then recognized the 5A schools in the area, Watson Chapel and White Hall. In 4A, Warren is expected to repeat as state champs, and Dumas is expected to challenge.
"When you dip down to 5A, Watson Chapel and White Hall played a great game in the series last year," Grooms said. "It was pretty much of the epitome of what it should be as it came down to the last play. Watson Chapel went on to make it to the semi-finals, and White Hall won a conference championship. The turnaround that White Hall made is one of the most remarkable feats that we've seen in high school football in quite some time.
“Taking a look at 4A, Coach Pennington has turned things around at Dumas. Our coaches vote on our polls in our magazine, and they picked Dumas second to Warren.”
The three universities that were on hand all have rosters loaded with Arkansans.
Coach Monte Coleman at UAPB was excited with what they accomplished coming out of the spring, Grooms said.
"I found four or five potential starters from Arkansas on each side of the ball, and that's really good,” Grooms said. “UAM has done a terrific job of being able to recruit in-state guys. I think I found 13 starters back from the state. Coaches voted Henderson to finish third in the conference but with that offense I just don't see how."
Grooms encouraged the audience to get out and witness football in the state other than in Fayetteville.
"I urge any of you who are able and capable to go out and see college football," Grooms said. "It's not just about the Razorbacks, as we have a lot of great football on Saturday in the state."
Grooms summed up his speech with his view of Arkansas Razorbacks football.
"If I had to make a prediction I would say six wins would be pretty good," Grooms said. "They could surprise me but this is a pivotal year as far as the nature of the program goes. There's just not much enthusiasm up there following two last season losses last year."
Football has a rich tradition in Southeast Arkansas, and fans won't have to wait much longer, as the month of August is just around the corner.