Drew County football should be interesting this year

‘Sup, Monticello? Long time, no see.

I just returned from my latest (and, hopefully, last) leave of absence, once again just in time for football season. I promise I’m not doing this on purpose.

A few things have changed since February, when last I sat at the sports desk. For the second year in a row, I return to find a local football coach has opted for a change of scenery.

I was somewhat taken aback when I heard Van Paschal was leaving MHS for Barton. I realize its one of the most storied programs in the state (and I attended Clarendon High School in the late 1980s, so I’m painfully familiar with the Bears), but it’s also one of the most difficult jobs, in my estimation. Frank McClellan casts a very long shadow over Barton.

Having covered Monticello football for just three years, I admit it’ll be a little strange not seeing Paschal on the MHS sideline. On the other hand, I think the school district made the right move in promoting Greg Tiner, formerly Paschal’s defensive coordinator.

Tiner’s roots run deep in Monticello, and he genuinely cares about the town and the school. He’s also a heck of a coach, as evidenced by Monticello’s defensive prowess the last few years.

I caught up with Tiner last Friday, and he said the offensive and defensive schemes that served the Billies well during Paschal’s tenure will remain largely intact. That’s the good news.

The bad news is Tiner inherits a team that must replace more than two dozen seniors from last year’s Class 5A state championship squad, so the Billies could be in for a rebuilding year.

The other good news is the Monticello coaches have a system in place that should help see them through the rough patches. Junior high coach Kenny Pace does an excellent job preparing his players for high school so MHS can keep chugging along regardless of personnel.

A conference championship is probably a tall order in 2010, and a state title repeat is certainly a stretch, but I expect the Billies to contend for the playoffs this year.

Last Friday I also visited with Drew Central basketball coaches Michael Goad and Larry Harris, who heroically conducted a two-day team camp in a couple of sweltering gymnasiums over the weekend.

There’s actually a lot of basketball played this time of year, even though most folks are thinking football with fall practice just around the corner.

Since I missed spring ball, I’m interested in seeing how the football Pirates have progressed under second-year coach James Bell. DCHS made great strides on defense during Bell’s first season and played pretty well down the stretch.

Offensive improvement will be key if Drew Central hopes to advance to the postseason in their third year of varsity football. Fortunately, several key players return on that side of the ball - QB Landon Owens, RB David Bell and TE Matt McKeown spring to mind - and for the first time since the program was resurrected in 2007, the Pirates won’t have to work the kinks out of a new offensive scheme this fall.

While we’re on the subject of football, I could use some help covering high school games this season and would welcome a call from anyone interested in some freelance work. Our office phone is 367-5325 and my e-mail is <a href="mailto:sports@monticellonews.net">sports@monticellonews.net</a>.

Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to thank everyone in Monticello for their thoughts and prayers these last couple of years. I’d also like to thank the good folks at The Advance, who have to take on extra duties in my absence and still get the paper out the door every week.

My family and I appreciate you all.

<em>Questions? Comments? E-mail Advance sports editor Danny Scott at <a href="mailto:sports@monticellonews.net">sports@monticellonews.net</a>.</em>

The Advance-Monticellonian

Mailing Address:
PO Box 486
Monticello, AR 71657

Street Address:
314 Main Street
Monticello, AR 71655

Phone: 870-367-5325
Fax: 870-367-6612

www.mymonticellonews.net

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