Arkansas High Excited about a New Beginning in Football
Arkansas High Razorback fans are excited about changes that have come to the program.
Longtime Texas High coach Barry Norton, who built a powerhouse winning program there, has moved across the state line to lead the Hogs. Norton is ready for the new challenge.
He says the off season went really well and they are in the process of trying to build a culture of success at Arkansas High. He says, "We use the phrase, Practice Winning Everyday. I have used it for the past 18 years as a head coach and I think it is really important that we live that phrase in everything that we do."
Norton says his 2017 Razorbacks will be young with lots of junior, but led by what he calls a great group of senior leaders.
Fans may be wanting to know what kind of offense the Hogs will run this season. Norton says they will be really multiple, kind of a pro-style offense. However he says they will play to the strengths of their players rather than fit it into a certain system.
Coach Norton is still evaluating who can do what, but believes they will have an offensive team that will have a great balance as far as the run and pass is concerned. The main thing is to be sure that they are completely team oriented in everything they do, according to the coach.
Defensively. the Razorbacks will be multiple in what they do, but will be based from the 4-3, which means four down linemen and 3 linebackers. Same as the offense, the coach is still learning what individual players can do at their respective positions, but he expects them to play hard and be physical on defense. Norton believes creating as much competition as they can will improve the depth of the team.
Coach Norton led teams have always excelled on special teams and they will be putting a huge emphasis on that phase of the game. They still have kids competing for those positions and coach is depending on special teams to be a strength for the team.
Coach Norton is thrilled with the assistant coaches he has assembled to begin his tenure at Arkansas High. Here is what he had to say about their experience and abilities:
Jeff Harrell- Assistant Head Coach- Been with me for 13 years and will coach defensive ends and help coordinate the defense. Tremendous coach and leader of kids.
Scott Norton- Special Teams Coordinator/RBs- Was with me for 7 years. He is great with motivating kids and helping organize the program. Great asset.
Tyler Morton-Defensive Coordinator- Been with me for 3 years. Excellent coach and teacher. Brings a great passion for the game.
Ed Stults- Offensive Line- Has coached college and high school football for over 30 years. Was offensive coordinator at Ball State. Excellent teacher of the game.
Jeff Ritter- QB Coach- Great young coach. High energy guy that has a bright future in this profession.
Elgie Richards- WR- He has been at Arkansas High School for 30 years. He is as well respected as anyone. We are fortunate to have him on staff.
Jerry Littleton- TE/OL- Been at Arkansas High for several years and is a very bright coach. He has a great understanding of football and is a great asset to our program.
Frank Pearson- Worked with me for 3 years prior to coming back with us to Arkansas High. He is an Arkansas High graduate and has a great passion for our school and kids. Coach Person will work with special teams and will assist the operations of the football department. Extremely valuable to our program.
Andrew Morton- Defensive Tackles- High energy guy. He is a great motivator and teacher.
Todd Ledford- LB-Todd worked for me for a couple of years before taking over here. When I took this job one of the first things that I wanted to do was to talk him in to staying with us. He is an excellent football coach, loves the kids and they love him. He is a great football guy and excellent teacher of the game.
JR Hunter- Corners- Worked for me for several years before coming to Arkansas High School. Really bright guy and excellent teacher.
Lane Berry- LB/Nickle Backs- Arkansas High graduate that has a passion for the school and kids.
The Razorbacks schedule both non-conference and conference is always strong and this year is no different. The beginning of the year schedule is something that should be beneficial to both the team and the fans in the early going. The first four games of the season will be played in Texarkana.
The opener will be at Pleasant Grove on September 1, versus their new rival the Hawks. Then it's followed by the annual Texas High game on September 8, which will be played this year at Razorback Stadium. Two more home games will follow, before the Hogs finally leave Texarkana to play Lake Hamilton at the very end of September.
Coach Norton is anticipating the PG game to start the season, "My understanding is that they have maybe their best team ever, so it should be a great challenge." He goes on to talk about the match up with his former team the Tigers, "We will host Texas High this year and as always that game has lots of excitement, They will pose a great challenge for our team. Our team will be prepared for both of them and look forward to competing."
Of course Coach Norton knows Texas High in and out, having coached there for several decades and leading them to an unbeaten regular season last year including a win over the Razorbacks.
Coach Norton is excited about this new challenge that he has taken on at Arkansas High. As for his expectations for this inaugural year, he says, "Its the same as every team that I have ever coached, We want to be the very best that we can be both individually and collectively, I like this team and believe that we can be very competitive. We want to win our conference, and the ultimate goal is to win the State Championship."
From our perspective, the football teams in the state of Arkansas better be on the lookout for these Hogs in the next few years. Coach Norton is a excellent football coach, and is a superior motivator of high school athletes.
Look for the Razorbacks to surprise some people this year and continue to improve and be a team to be reckoned with for the next few years.
On a side note, renovations to Razorback Stadium are underway and will be continuing right up until the home opener against Texas High on September 8. Coach Norton assures us the stadium is going to be awesome on opening night.