Countdown hits Day 2
Scrappers, Bobcats set Friday night
By John R. Schirmer
Last year at this time, Mike Volarvich was heading into his first game as a high school football coach when his Nashville Scrappers would host the Hope Bobcats. The Scrappers won by one point, and Volarvich admits he was “kind of nervous. I didn’t want to go home with a loss.”
The Scrappers went on to win the District 7-4A championship and the state Class 4A championship, compiling a perfect 15-0 record along the way
Nashville will face Hope again this Friday night. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Hope.
Volarvich went to Hope last week for the Bobcats’ scrimmage with Texarkana. He told the Nashville Rotary Club Aug. 24 that he “saw some of our players in the endzone watching. We had a large group out.”
After the scrimmage, Volarvich ate at the Hope Taco Bell, a stop which his Scrappers had made as well. “A guy started talking to me and said, ‘Are you their coach?’”
Volarvich replied that he was.
“Those guys are a great group of kids,” the Taco Bell manager said. “They’re very respectful. It was all, ‘Yes sir, no sir.’ I thought I should tell you.”
The Scrappers “represented our school and community well,” Volarvich said. “It made me feel good. I don’t always hear the good things, but this guy thought he should tell me.”
Volarvich is pleased with his team overall after spring practice, summer drills and fall camp. The Scrappers defeated El Dorado 21-14 in a scrimmage Aug. 24, and they’ve spent this week cleaning up mistakes and preparing for Friday night’s season opener.
Hope will “present some different problems. El Dorado has a bend but don’t break defense. They line up in the same spot. Hope is never in the same spot. They try to create chaos on defense. They’ll make some big plays, but they’ll give up some big plays. It’s high risk, high reward. We have to make sure we’re sound.”
The Bobcats are coached by former Scrapper Jay Turley.
They have “a good quarterback, Austin Stubber. He’s the top player on the team. He throws well. Neutralizing what he does is a big key point in being able to beat them,” Volarvich said.
Friday night will be “an exciting environment. There should be a lot of people there. You can throw the records out the window in a rivalry like this. The players all know each other. We have to overcome the early adrenaline rush and play our style,” Volarvich said. We’ll have to be really sound in what we do schematically.”
Looking back at the El Dorado contest, Volarvich was “really happy with the effort and the way our guys flew around. On defense, we had one busted coverage that led to a touchdown.”
The other Wildcat TD came on an interception return for a score.
The Scrappers stopped El Dorado just short of the goalline on fourth and goal as time expired to secure the 21-14 win.
Nashville “gave them a first down on a penalty. Except for that, we only allowed one first down in the whole half of football.”
The Scrappers held El Dorado to 1.9 yards per rush. “Anytime you do that, you’re playing pretty good football, especially considering the size difference,” according to Volarvich.
Offensively, the Scrappers put up a 13-play scoring drive and two 11-play scoring drives.
“We were able to drive the ball without shooting ourselves in the foot. That’s something you like to see, especially early in the year. Early is when you see a lot of self-inflicted mistakes. We limited a lot of those,” Volarvich said.
The Wildcat and Scrapper varsity teams played the entire first half, with JV action in the second half.
The first half saw 52 offensive plays for Nashville compared to 24 for El Dorado.
“We got a bunch of reps. We played some different guys in the second quarter,” Volarvich said.
Big plays for the night offensively came from Ty Pettway and Dominick Kight, both of whom “went up and got the football.”
On defense, Shun Childress “had a good night at nose guard. Dennis Scott and Jordan White were good in the secondary.”
Overall, the scrimmage was “a good measuring point to wee where we are. We still have to put four quarters together. The scrimmage was very vanilla. It will be a lot different in a real game,” Volarvich said.
The Scrappers enter Friday night’s game at hope after a busy summer and fall camp.
Drills began the first week of June and were held on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, with Wednesdays set aside as a make-up day.
There were 12 June workout days and 9 in July, with two weeks off in the summer for the Arkansas Activities Association’s dead weeks, Volarvich said.
“We had 21 workouts. This is a great group of young men. They’re extremely hard workers with a great work ethic,” Volarvich told the Rotary Club.
Fall camp began Aug. 1 and included weights and meetings before hitting the field for practice.
“Our fall was really good,” Volarvich said. “The weather wasn’t too bad except for a couple of days. There’s a fine line between hard work and being aware of the kids out running in the heat.”
The new artificial turf at Scrapper Stadium “has been very beneficial. We have so much help from the community. We practiced on it every day, even with the rain. We never went inside. That’s a direct reflection of the new turf.”
The Scrappers didn’t participate in team camps or 7-on-7 during the summer. “I want it to be exciting to come to practice and get back to the routine. I don’t want the kids to be burned out,” Volarvich said.
The Scrappers “have a lot of tests this year. It’s hard to win one championship, and it’s really hard to win two. You’re the champion. You’re somebody’s Super Bowl.”
Quarterbacks Tyler Hanson and Jake Moorer have “a little different skill set” than Leonard Snell last season. “Nobody else in the state did what Leonard did last year, but our quarterbacks this year are better at some things than Leonard.”
The Scrappers’ other strengths include running backs Darius Hopkins, TK Hopkins and Trent Harris.
The offensive line includes three returning starters, Kirby Adcock, Justin Bean and Triston Rhodes. “Kirby is so much bigger than last year,” Volarvich said. As a junior, Adcock was 6-2 1/2. Now as a senior, he’s 6-5 and 300 pounds.
Adcock and Hopkins are the squad’s college prospects, Volarvich said. Adcock has verbally committed to the University of Arkansas.
‘Grueling season’ awaits Scrappers
By John R. Schirmer
Entering the season opener Friday night at Hope, the Scrappers are the pre-season pick to win District 7-4A and the Class 4A state title. Both the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and Hooten’s Arkansas Football have Nashville in the top spot, followed by Warren.
Still, the Scrappers have some spots to fill from last season’s 15-0 state championship game. “We have some answered questions,” Coach Mike Volarvich said. “As a staff we think we know some answers until we get out there.”
At quarterback, “We don’t have a guy who started last year.” Junior Tyler Hanson will start at QB, with Jake Moorer the back-up.
“Our quarters bring a different skill set than Leonard [Snell from 2015]. “We’ll identify their strengths and play to them.”
Three of the four receivers are new starters, Volarvich said.
Two offensive linemen will be new starters.
Most of this season’s starters “have played, but to be the starter and have your number called, there’s a difference,” Volarvich said. “You hope they step up and get the job done.”
Overall, “I feel good with our offensive line and our running back positions. Those are two strong points of the team. I like the level of our talent there and the depth of our running backs. I feel good with all three. Not many teams can say that.” TK Hopkins, Trent Harris and Darius Hopkins will be the Scrapper running backs.
On the offensive line, seniors Kirby Adcock, Justin Bean and Triston Rhodes return from last year. “All 3 started 15 games,” Volarvich said. Adcock has verbally committed to the University of Arkansas.
Volarvich looks for a good season offensively from Ty Pettway, Dominick Kight, CJ Spencer, Jhalon Finley and Zach Jamison, among others.
The Scrapper offense “will be similar to last year. We’ll call the plays and see what works. I hope we stay healthy. We did last year.”
This week, the Scrappers have worked on correcting mistakes from last Thursday’s scrimmage against El Dorado. “We want to play as clean as we can. We want to fly around on defense and execute on offense,” Volarvich said.
The season opener against Hope “is always an exciting game. It’s a rivalry. It’s the first playing game. It’s non conference, but to the communities, it means as much as any game on the schedule,” Volarvich said.
Nashville’s first home game will be Sept. 9 against the De Queen Leopards. The contest will mark the first official game played on the new synthetic turf at Scrapper Stadium.
“This is a long-time rivalry. It’s the home opener and will be an exciting time for us,” Volarvich said. “De Queen will present a good challenge. They play a physical brand of football.”
The Scrappers “didn’t play well against them last year. We were held scoreless on offense the first half. That’s one of the few times that one of my teams didn’t score the entire first half,” Volarvich said.
“People say that a team always shows the most improvement between the first and second game. That wasn’t the case last year in the first half. We had miscues and mental busts, but we were able to win in the second half. I expect us to play better this time. A lot of the credit goes to De Queen. They have good players,” Volarvich said.
The Scrappers “had a couple of opportunities we didn’t take advantage of last year.”
Idabel comes to Scrapper Stadium Sept. 16. “They’re new to our schedule. Idabel is a 3A school, and the program is on the rise. The head coach has been there three years and has kind of turned it around. Idabel was 9-1 last year,” according to Volarvich.
“We’re excited to play a team people here don’t know as much about. It will be exciting to see their brand of football.
The District 7-4A race will open Sept. 23 at Scrapper Stadium against Arkadelphia. The Badgers “are always a tough opponent. Coach [J.R.] Eldridge does a great job. We coached against each other when I was at Henderson and he was at Ouachita. Their players are going to do what they’re coached to do,” Volarvich said. “They play hard.”
From there, the Scrappers face “a grueling 7-4A schedule. With the addition of Pulaski Robinson, it’s a league where you have to show up every week. If you don’t bring your A game, you’ll get beat. They say anybody can win on any given night, and that really is the case here,” according to Volarvich.
The district could have at least 12 Division I college prospects and more for DII, Volarvich said. “Arkansas as a state usually produces 25-30 D1 players. In 7-4A, we may have 10-12. It’s a tough conference.”
All of the 7-4A games will be tough, Volarvich said. “Ashdown has five D1 prospects. I don’t know of many who can say that. They have the top player in the state. No one else can say that. They’ll be tough to beat.”
Robinson has “9-10 [D1 or D2] college players. I don’t know of another coach who will tell you he has 10 college players. People will tell you that games are won with Jimmys and Joes, not X’s and O’s. They have lots of Jimmys and Joes.”
With a number of good teams in 7-4A, Volarvich looks for “an interesting year. We’ll see how it plays out.”
As defending district and state champions, “We’ll get everybody else’s A game. We’re somebody’s Super Bowl every week. If they can knock off the Scrappers, they’ll have a party on our field.”
Defensive Scrappers ‘know the tradition, get better every day’
By John R. Schirmer
It doesn’t take long for Coach Brad Chesshir to make his point about his Scrapper defensive unit – “I want all our Pumpkinheads to fly to the football and get there with a nasty attitude.”
Chesshir, the team’s defensive coordinator and a former Scrapper himself, understands Nashville’s tradition and the community’s expectations. And he embraces them.
“This group is getting better every day,” Chesshir says. “They know what’s expected. They know the tradition.”
Four of the top 10 tacklers from last year’s state championship team are returning, including leading tackler Garrett Gordon. On the flip side, “We lost some key players, including Billy Stewart who set the state sack record. It’s hard to replace his effort,” Chesshir said.
To fill in those spots, “A lot of younger guys have stepped up. We had a good summer. They’re trying to learn our scheme and are doing a good job,” Chesshir said.
In the mix of new and veteran Scrappers, Mace Green is back on the defensive line. “He was a back-up but played a lot. He’s solid for us. His effort is phenomenal.”
Defensive lineman Marquell McFalls “is getting better each and every day. His alignments and assignments are better.”
Kirby Adcock, an offensive lineman who has verbally committed to the Arkansas Razorbacks, will see time on defense as well. “He’s an offensive line guy, but he will help on the D-line when needed.”
Two sophomores, Bubba Reeder and Robert Dunham, are working at defensive line positions. “It’s tough to step into the trenches, especially for sophomores,” Chesshir said. “They’re doing good quality work.”
Nose guard Shun Childress is “so much stronger. So much better. He brings a lot of energy to the table.”
Senior linebackers Gordon and Michael Bevill are 2 of the top 10 tacklers from last season. Gordon is “the leader on defense. He helps with alignment issues. He’s a smash-mouth player. He loves contact, loves stopping the run, has his mind right to compete. He’s a really good player.”
Bevill is “very coachable,” Chesshir said. “He’s smart, football savvy.”
Senior Hunter White played safety last year but is an outside linebacker now. “He’s so smooth. He reads the play. He’s smart at his position.”
Seniors Jordan Summers and Dalton Smead will see duty at outside linebacker.
Chesshir expects sophomore Kalob Carpenter “to be productive” at the position.
Sophomore Xavier Nunnally will play at inside linebacker. “He’s so fast. He gets to the ball so quickly. He’s come a long way since spring,” Chesshir said.
Dennis Scott and Davion Holmes will see action at corner. Scott is entering his first year and has shown “a lot of potential.”
Safety Kailus Hughes “isn’t gong to be big, but he’s very smart. He will swarm to the football and get there with a nasty attitude.”
Jordan White “flies to the football. He was in on 12 plays and made 6 tackles at the Bash. Very coachable, high character.”
Overall, Chesshir says his defenders are ready “to step up and play. They’re a good, solid group. They’re progressing to swarming to the ball. Now we’ll do our best to go to war with those guys.”
Good numbers, good summer for Nashville Junior High team
By John R. Schirmer
Going into the season, the major goal for the Nashville Junior Scrappers is “to win the conference,” according to Coach Rick Baker. “It’s not about that streak. We want to get these guys ready to move up to senior high.”
“That streak” refers to the team’s 47-game winning streak that covers five complete seasons and two games from another. If the Scrappers should go undefeated, the streak would turn to 56-0.
The junior high Scrappers have 65 players on their roster. They began their lifting program in mid-June and continued through the summer except for the two dead weeks required by the Arkansas Activities Association.
“We had 55-58 average during the summer,” Baker said. The team worked out twice weekly in June and three times a week in July. “We had 19-20 who made every practice. That’s great. It’s always tough for junior high before school starts.”
The Scrappers face an unusual open date Sept. 1. They will start the season at Magnolia Sept. 8.
From there, the remainder of the schedule includes the following:
Sept. 15 – Hope here
Sept. 22 – Bauxite here
Sept. 29 – Fountain Lake here
Oct. 6 – at Fairview
Oct. 13 – Ashdown here
Oct. 20 – Mena here
Oct. 27 – at Malvern
Nov. 3 – at Arkadelphia
All games will begin at 7 p.m. and will be preceded by the eighth grade game at 5:30 p.m.
Practice has gone well, Baker said. The Scrappers have “three or four kids going both ways. We hope the eighth graders step up and help us.”
Coaches are emphasizing “that it’s not about the streak. It’s about each class doing its part.”
Lance Easter will be the starting quarterback. Carmillias Morrison will be the running back.
Several receivers “are getting a lot of time,” including Davonte Witherspoon and Detrich Young.
The Scrappers “lost a real good offensive line last year. Coach [Brian ‘Boomer’] Brown works with them. That’s the question mark now. They have to come on for us to have success.”
Defensive ends include Damillion Henderson and Samuel Avalos, with Jonathon Hagler in the middle. Linebackers are Isaac Johnson and Witherspoon.
The Scrappers have a transfer from Idabel, Corbin Cooper, who’s had “a good summer.”
Corners will be Cole Little and Devon Reisinger.
With the season eight days away, Baker said he and the team are ready for it to start. “I’m looking forward to the year.”