The first week of practice for the White Hall Bulldogs has a similar feel to last season, but for totally different reasons. After winning a 5A south conference title behind one of the most prolific turn-around seasons in Arkansas high school football's recent history, the pressure is now on to stay on course. Bulldogs Head Coach Mike Vaughn expressed that the guys know they have something special to play for.
"Last year our senior bunch was just bound, determined and desperate," Vaughn said. "This bunch has shown that same kind of attitude. We're trying to repeat as conference champs, and that's something we've never done since I've been here. I can say the will to win is comparable to last season's start. The effort so far has been good, and I haven't had any problems whatsoever. It's also important that everybody has shown up that's not hurt."
One of the most interesting developments is White Hall's change to a 3-4 scheme on defense. The lack of depth up front on defense can be attributed to the change, and also Vaughn referenced that because of the formations that they play against during the season they usually end up playing three down lineman anyway.
On offense, the Bulldogs are rotating multiple guys who could all help.
"We think we have about seven that could step in on the offensive line as some of the younger ones are coming along," Vaughn said. "Defensively we've got some guys hurt, but we think we'll be OK. We've gone to a three-front, which is what Arkansas did. Our situation is we're desperate at that position and we didn't feel like we had four consistent down lineman."
"As it turned out the teams that we play who run the flex bone and the I-formation forces us into a three-front," Vaughn said. "So we went to it for two reasons, one being our depth, and the other being we play in it all the time so we made it our base."
From the looks of things, the Bulldogs will be loaded at the skill positions. Vaughn eluded to the fact that he doesn't remember having this much all-around speed for quite sometime.
"We think we have about nine or ten skill guys," Vaughn said. "That's our strength. We have more depth in the receiving core and defensive backs that we've had since I been here. Right now we don't have any superstars but who knows how good they'll be. All of them can run and that's the key thing. We've never had nine or ten who can run 4.7 or better, and we've got that this year. That gives us an advantage to certain extents in a lot of situations."
Implementing a new starting quarterback is always a hassle in it's own, but the Bulldogs have the luxury of juggling three competitive athletes.
"We're working three quarterbacks right now," Vaughn said. "The senior probably has the nod as of now, Ollie Reddick. Ollie can do something the other two can't, he runs a 4.5 40. The other two have good arms. Josh Looney is the next man up if he's not the first guy when it's all over. Josh has a great arm and he throws the ball really well, but he can also play receiver. Of course Yates Hollowell is our sophomore and he has as good of an arm as any of them plus he runs well. He's just young, but he'll be a really good one down the road. In this league it doesn't take but one sprained ankle and you're down to the next guy, and they all three know that."
The Bulldogs have under a month to prepare for their season home opener against Dumas on Sept. 1.