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— Junior High team on the rise

In the past few years it's been feast or famine with the Pea Ridge Junior High football program. The 2005 and 2006 teams were good close to league titles but ac cording to my records, the junior 'Hawks didn't record a single win during the 2007 or 2008 seasons (not counting 7th or 8th grade games, just the regular junior high ones.)

Well the famine is over, with the 'Hawks so far feasting on Elkins and West Fork, with a pre-season picnic at the expense of Cedarville. The 2-0 'Hawks will be playing home tomorrow night hosting the Greenland Pirates in their last non 4A-1 contest.

I haven't had the chance to catch a junior high game but I predicted earlier this summer that the return of coach Curtis Shannon to help in the coaching was a good omen. Not that he is completely responsible for the reversal of fortunes on the junior high level, as no one person can be singled out for the success or failure of an enterprise as heavily manned as is football ... but it IS good Karma. Kinda like wearingyour lucky socks in game after game. Not that I am comparing coach Shannon to a pair of dirty socks.

Next subject.

Broyles prediction wrong

Not too many years ago, Arkansas had on its football staff a rising coach, Gus Mahlzahn. Mahlzahn took the Shiloh football program back in the '80s and turned in into a juggernaut, using some offensive schemes that he had developed on his own, even publishing them into a book.

He went from Shiloh to Springdale High, turning the Bulldogs into one of the best two teams in the country according to most polls.

He had a bunch of his athletes earn Division I scholarships although few of them went on to do much after leaving high school.

It would appear more and more that the success of the Mahlzahn led Springdale Bulldogs were due to hisinnovations and expertise than his being "lucky" to have good athletes.

In a move that the Arkansas head football coach resisted and the athletic director downplayed, Mahlzahn was hired as the offensive coordinator.

After calling plays that led to a 10-game Razorback winning streak, Malhzahn was abruptly demoted with Broyles saying at the time that while Mahlzahn's offense might work great for a high school program, perhaps for a time on the college level, Mahlzahn's "Wildcat" offense could never make it on the competitive level such as is the SEC.

After removing Mahlzahn from decision-making power, the Hogs proceeded to lose five in a row. The Arkansas head coach eventually leaves for Mississippi, decides to use the "Wildcat" offense in his new environs and Ol Miss has the best season they have had for 25 years.

Mahlzahn departs for Tulsa resulting in the Golden Hurricane leading the nation in total offense for the past two seasons.

Auburn hires Mahlzahn for its offensive coordinator job this season and in the Tigers' first game last week, utilizing the "Wildcat" offense led to their gaining over 500 yards.

This is from a team that suffered from an anemic offense in 2008.

Meanwhile, more and more teams in the NFL are adopting variations of the "Wildcat," most notably the Miama Dolphins who have seen a resurgence in their football fortunes after some poor seasons. It now seems that the "Wildcat" offense has spread into every corner of the country.

Arkansas now has an excellent coach in Bobby Petrino who is an innovator and some say "football genius" in his own right. The Arkansas/Auburn game this year might be a real shoot out.

The moral of the story?

Don't reject things because they are different. Remember the memorable quote from an 1890's U.S. Patent officer who made the remark, "Everything that can be invented, has been invented!"

Proof is in the pudding and it was too bad that some of Arkansas' best pudding got away from her borders.

Sports, Pages 10 on 09/16/2009

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