After Lee Hardman retired in 2017, the Dollarway Cardinals hired Alton Murphy as their new athletic director

Hardman held the title of AD and head football coach for several years, so Murphy had to go out and find a head man for the football team. He didn't have to go too far away from the tree, as he hired one of the district's own in Martese Henry.

Henry was previously the head coach of the Dollarway Junior High football team, and he served as an assistant on the high school team for a number of years under Hardman and Cortez Lee. Henry said he loves Dollarway football, adding that it means the world to be able to lead the Cardinals.

"I take a lot of pride in Dollarway football," Henry said. "I've had the opportunity to work under some great coaches. The tradition, the atmosphere of love, and the work ethic has been instilled throughout the whole process."

Before the Cardinals hit rough times after the departure of Hardman, they were 8-4A contenders year in and year out. Henry vividly remembers those days, and he can even recall memories of Dollarway football back when they were dominating under Hardman before Hardman took the head coach position at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

Dollarway was once a powerhouse in Southeast Arkansas, and Henry wants to take the Cardinals back to that level.

"I've been watching Dollarway football since I was a kid," Henry said. "I know what's at stake as far as getting things back on a winning track. We're trying to change the mindset and the culture of the young men at this time. At the same time, we know that we're not too far away."

Another big change with Dollarway football is the fact that they'll be moving from the 4A classification to the 3A. However, Henry knows that the 6-3A conference that they'll compete in features teams who are rugged and tough. Just because they're taking a step down in classification doesn't mean that they'll change their approach at all.

"One thing I do know about the conference is we've played against McGehee before, and they're always tough," Henry said. "It's kind of the same type of conference we were in when we were in 4A. It's run-heavy, and it'll be tough. We're excited about the nature of moving down but at the same time, we're going to treat it like it's the 8-4A. We're not going to take anybody for granted week in and week out. Everybody will compete, but we definitely know that Barton, McGehee and Rison are serious contenders. We'll take the same approach that we did as if we were going up against a Warren, Star City or Hamburg."

The Dollarway Cardinals will open their season against the Little Rock McClellan Lions. This game is a part of the 103.7 The Buzz Kickoff Classic and it will be held at 5 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 20, at War Memorial Stadium.