By John R. Schirmer
With 59 players on the roster, the Nashville Junior High School Scrappers will open their season at home Thursday, Sept. 3, at 7 p.m. against Hot Springs.
“I’m proud of that,” Coach Rick Baker said of his large roster, which includes 29 ninth graders and 30 eighth graders.
“We’ve been working since July 7. We lifted a couple of days in June. We met every week [later] and had 45-50 kids. I was really pleased with the turnout. Now we’re moving right into the year.”
The junior Scrappers began fall practice two weeks before school started.
Baker said the junior high team is using the same system that Coach Mike Volarvich brought to high school when he arrived in late January. “Our kids are buying into the new system from high school. Teaching kids what high school will be like – that’s what junior high is for.”
The junior high squad defeated De Queen in a scrimmage last week. “Overall, I’m pleased with the scrimmage. We had some turnovers to correct and some penalties to take care of. We have to get everybody in the right position.”
Baker said he is “really pleased with the offensive line.” However, “We need to do better throwing and catching.”
On defense, “We made some big stops the other night” at De Queen. “They had five or six tries to get in, and we stopped them. That helped get us some momentum in the second half,” Baker said.
For the eighth graders at the scrimmage, “It’s always a new deal. Things are a little different. There’s a kicking game. It’s their first real action with coaches to line them up. I thought we got after De Queen well. I’m pleased with them.”
Baker said he is excited about the opener against Hot Springs. “That’s what we’re working for, getting ready for the first game. Hot Springs is Class 5A. They have a lot of speed. I’m looking forward to it.”
The junior Scrappers are riding a 38-game winning streak going into Thursday night’s game.
“We worry about the next game and what they have,” Baker said. “Fans talk about the streak more than we do.”
The juniors have gone undefeated for four seasons and had two more wins the year before.
“Our goal is to win the conference and get the trophy. That’s something to play for,” Baker said. “Our number one goal is to be district champions.”
Nashville defeated Arkadelphia last season for the District 7-4A title.
The junior Scrappers will have helmet stickers with the letters “DC” on them in memory of former Coach Don Cooley, who died during the summer. Cooley was an assistant coach on the junior high team.