By John R. Schirmer
The countdown to the Scrappers’ season opener ends Friday night when Hope comes to Scrapper Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
The game may be heard live on KMTB, 99.5 FM in Nashville. Live streaming will be available for a fee of $9.95. (See related story.)
For Coach Mike Volarvich, the wait has been a long one. Volarvich was hired as head coach in late January after a successful five-season stint as offensive coordinator at Henderson State University. The Reddies were ranked first nationally two of those seasons.
“Our guys are excited,” Volarvich said Monday morning. “This is a big rivalry. Hope will bring a good team here. They have a lot of returning players. Their number one player is McTelvin Agim, a defensive end. He’s big and fast.”
Agim is the top player in the state, according to many ranking services. “He’s the only one in the state to do what he can do,” Volarvich said.
Colleges throughout the nation are recruiting Agim, including the University of Arkansas.
The Bobcats “have a good quarterback and a couple of good receivers,” according to Volarvich. Junior Austin Stubber is the Hope QB.
Hope’s defense features Agim (6-3, 270) and Kadarius Rowe (6-3, 285). “They’re big physical kids, bigger than what we’re used to,” Volarvich said.
For the Scrappers, “We do what we do. We try to keep improving on the things we do. We want to make sure we’re crisp on alignments and assignments. We try to control the things we can control. We can’t control what they do. We’re working to get better every day.”
As he prepares for his first game at Nashville, “I kind of look at it as all other games. It’s my first game here. It’s my first game as a head coach. I’m going into it all the same. I don’t know if I’ll feel different at game time, but I have the same feeling so far. Obviously, I want to put a good product on the field and have the kids coached the way they need to be,” Volarvich said.
Hope is not one of the schools that Volarvich recruited at Henderson State, but he is familiar with the Bobcats. Hope played in a jamboree last year at Carpenter-Haygood Stadium. He talked to Coach Jay Turley, a former Scrapper, after the Bobcats’ scrimmage with Texarkana and Nashville’s scrimmage with El Dorado.
Going into Friday night, Volarvich knows that “it’s going to be a battle. We’ll have to play four quarters of football. I know last year’s game kind of got out of control [with] Darius Hopkins making four great runs” during Nashville’s 53-10 victory.
The Scrappers enter the season opener against Hope coming off a 28-7 win over El Dorado in a scrimmage Aug. 27 at Southern Arkansas University. The Wildcats are ranked second in Class 6A by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Volarvich was “happy coming out of it. We played really hard. Like all scrimmages, there are some things to clean up, but the effort was there.”
The Scrappers scored three of the first four times they had the ball, with the only misfire coming on a field goal that “didn’t go well.”
Offensively, Nashville posted “a couple of big plays. We had a long touchdown run. Trey Hughes scored for us. We were good up front on the offensive line,” Volarvich said.
“We played pretty base. They played pretty base. Our kids played really hard. They executed well. We played pretty physical.”
Volarvich said there are some “little things on alignment and assignment to work on. A guy may have to scoot over two or three yards.”
Nashville and El Dorado played two full quarters, then sent in the JV for the second half. “We were able to play a lot of young guys. We got 20 plays for them in a game situation. El Dorado has so much depth. It was good for them to do that,” Volarvich said.
Nashville came out of the game healthy. “There were no major injuries. Scrimmages always worry me. There’s a fine line between success and leaving players in too long We pulled our starters in the second quarter. Our young guys got extra work, and we preserved the starters,” Volarvich said.
Live streaming set for Scrapper football
The Nashville School District plans to offer live streaming of Scrapper football starting with the season opener Friday night at 7:30 at Scrapper Stadium.
Superintendent Doug Graham said viewers should go to the school’s website at nashvillesd.com and follow the link for the live stream.
There will be a fee of $9.95 per game, with half going to the streaming website and half to Nashville athletics, according to Graham.
Audio for the game will be provided by KMTB Radio, B99.5, with veteran announcer Charles Hubbard, the radio voice of the Scrappers, calling the play by play.
Replays of the game will be available starting at 9 a.m. Saturday and continuing for 72 hours. There will be no charge for the replay.
Cameraman Mike Aylett and the Nashville audio-video department will video the games and take care of the technical work to make them available online.
“Now our fans who are out of town can watch on their phone, iPad, computer or on their TV with an Internet connection,” Graham said.
Games will be available all season.
The district will conduct a trial run of the live streaming Thursday at 7 p.m. for the Nashville Junior High game against Hot Springs from Scrapper Stadium.
This week’s junior high game will be free. Viewers should go to nashvillesd.com and follow the link, according to Graham.
Hubbard will be the play-by-play announcer.
Graham said the district is looking at a season pass which would provide coverage of other sports in addition to football.
Scrapper opponents include
3 teams from 5A, tough district
By John R. Schirmer
With the season set to begin in two days at home against Hope, Coach Mike Volarvich says the Nashville Scrappers have their overall goal in mind – to win a state championship.
“We have smaller goals too. We’ll play one week at a time. I want to see us improve from week to week,” Volarvich said. “I want the players to do what they’re coached to do with enthusiasm and effort. Our overall goal is a state title, but a lot has to happen first.”
Volarvich said he has watched the video of last season’s games, and the same opponents await the Scrappers this year through the regular season.
“There are a bunch of really good teams. We have a tough first three games against three Class 5A schools” with Hope, De Queen and Watson Chapel,” Volarvich said.
“Hope has the best player in the state in McTelvin Agim. De Queen is much improved. Watson Chapel is picked to win its conference. They’re very athletic. Those games are all before our conference season. It’s tough in itself,” Volarvich said.
“Malvern, Fountain Lake and Arkadelphia are the three teams everybody has been talking about. Ashdown’s going to get some people this year. Their sophomore quarterback could be one of the best in the league. We know what Mena did last year [state finals]. They’re replacing a lot of guys. It depends on who they replace them with.”
The Scrappers were 10-2 last season. They lost to Fountain Lake in the second District 7-4A game of the season but went on to win the district championship and advance to state.
Nashville had a bye in the first round, defeated Prairie Grove in Round 2 and lost to Dardanelle in the quarterfinals.
The Scrappers are picked by Hooten’s Arkansas Football to win District 7-4A this season and finish second overall in Class 4A behind Dardanelle.
They enter the season ranked second in 4A in many polls but fifth by the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
Fast-paced offense puts up big numbers
in scrimmage; ‘lots of potential to be good’
By John R. Schirmer
Scrapper fans had their first look at Coach Mike Volarvich’s offense Aug. 27 in a pre-season scrimmage against El Dorado, and they had reason to be impressed.
Stats were kept for the first half only as the varsity teams for the Scrappers and Wildcats met. During that half, Nashville had 319 yards total offense on 40 plays.
The Scrapper attack included 144 yards rushing, 175 yards passing.
“We’re improving,” Volarvich said of the offensive unit. “Usually, the defense starts out faster. You can get 11 guys to the ball to make plays. Offensively, you have to get on the same page.”
The Scrapper offense “lots of potential to be good. We have speed at the skill positions. We’re solid up front. We have [Leonard] Snell and [Darius] Hopkins in the backfield.”
Volarvich came to Nashville from Henderson State University, where he served as offensive coordinator for the Reddies. In five years at Henderson, the offense was ranked first in the nation twice, 2012 and 2013. HSU averaged 50.4 points per game in 2012 and 43.3 in 2013.
The Reddie passing offense was third nationally in 2012 with 377.6 yards per game, first nationally in 2013 with 428.4 yards par game, and fourth nationally in 2014 with 357.3 yards per game. Those totals came with record-setting quarterback Kevin Rodgers at the helm.
The Reddies ranked first nationally in total offense for 2013 with 576.4 yards per game.
For the Scrappers, Snell will be the starting quarterback, backed up by Gabe Moorer.
Nashville has four starters back at receiver, including Trey Hughes, Dea’jeon Armstrong, Andrew Hawthorne and Hunter White. “They’re very good players. They can score any time they touch the ball,” Volarvich said.
Hawthorne played through adversity against El Dorado when he lost a tooth in the first quarter. “He kept on playing when his tooth was knocked out. After we scored, he smiled at me and his tooth was gone. After game, we found the play where he was hurt on the video replay system. We saw the yardline and found the tooth,” Volarvich said.
When the team returned to Nashville, local dentist Dr. Glenn Lance put the tooth back in about 11:30 that night, according to Volarvich.
Volarvich said the Scrapper offense is “similar to what we did at Henderson. I always changed it every year because I had different guys. You tailor the offense to who you have. We have different guys here, but the theory behind it is the same. It goes back to what the quarterback can handle.”
Rodgers played for Volarvich so long that “I didn’t have to coach him his last year.”
Volarvich said Rodgers and Snell have different skill sets. “Kevin was a drop back passer. Snell is a little more athletic. We have to find his strengths and not try to fit a square peg into a round hole. We try to find things he can do.”
The result against El Dorado was 13 completions in 17 attempts for a 76 percent average, 176 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Against the Wildcats, “We did stuff we did at Henderson. The SAU coaches who were there said it was similar,” Volarvich said.
The tempo was quick against El Dorado. “We try to play fast, snap the ball fast. My theory is that the more snaps you have, the more chances to score a touchdown. Of course, it doesn’t always work like that,” Volarvich said.
“I’m not worried about time of possession for our offense. If you try to control the clock, time of possession is a big deal. One year at Henderson, we were first nationally in scoring and last in time of possession,” Volarvich said. “It’s more about opportunities to score.”
The Scrappers “have done a good job of adapting. What we do is fairly simple. I played junior college ball and coached junior college ball [before HSU]. That’s the kind of football I know. I had a kid for a year and a half at most The player had to learn fast. I try to put them in position to be successful on the field.”
Volarvich said there isn’t “a lot of coaching on the field at practice. We watch film and make corrections from the film. We don’t stop practice; we do it off film.”
All 11 Pumpkin Heads ‘swarm to the football’
By John R. Schirmer
“Getting better one day at a time.”
That’s how Scrapper defensive coordinator Brad Chesshir describes his troops as the season opener against Hope approaches.
Five senior starters from last year’s defensive unit are back, including Troy Thomas, Billy Stewart, Ashton Nelson, Terell Grundy and Dea’jeon Armstrong.
“We’re replacing six guys,” Chesshir said, along with “setting our base and learning our alignments and assignments. “Our new guys are stepping up. They’re learning quickly”
Chesshir has emphasized “getting guys to swarm to the football.”
Stewart, a senior, “has a knack for football. Where the ball is, you’ll see his number,” Chesshir said. “He’s a big, physical kid. Good feet, good hands.”
Thomas, the other defensive end, “is a smart football player. He has good size, good strength and power off the ball.”
Linebacker Nelson “runs our defense. He’s a coach on the field. He’s in charge of communication. He lines guys up,” according to Chesshir.
A three-year starter, “Ashton has a great attitude. There’s not a kid here with a better attitude. He’s fun to coach,” Chesshir said.
Outside linebacker Grundy “gives so much effort every play. He’s very physical. He runs to the ball,” Chesshir said.
In the secondary, Armstrong is back at corner. “It’s hard to run routes on him. The kid doesn’t have to worry about effort. He gets there with a nasty attitude.”
Garrett Gordon, a junior, “played a lot last year. He’s a student of the game, smart,” Chesshir said.
Mace Green will see action at defensive end and linebacker.
Marquell McFalls will play at nose guard.
Corner Shaundell Scott didn’t play last year but came out for his senior season. “He’s very coachable and gives great effort. He’s easy to coach,” Chesshir said.
Safeties Charles Furr and Austin Gibbs “are good coachable kids. They’re learning our defense well.”
Chesshir said the biggest things for his defenders are “alignment, assignment and swarming to the ball. Get there with a nasty attitude. We want all 11 Pumpkin Heads at the ball.”
Schematically, the Scrappers are the same as last year, even though the personnel will be different at some positions. “We’re a 3-4 defense,” Chesshir said.
Chesshir is the strength and conditioning coach for the Scrappers, and he says the team had good attendance for summer conditioning. “They worked hard. Now, we continue to build on our strength. We keep getting stronger, and we’ll be explosive as the week goes by. I preach every day that whatever we do, we want to be an uncommon team. When the playoffs come, we want to be stronger than the other teams.”
Every day, Chesshir tells his defenders to “go by fight, finish, faith. Keep the faith in themselves and the coaches and what we’re doing.”