By John Balch
“I’m flattered to be here,” said Coach Vince Perrin about his return to District 7-2A football where he has taken over for David Bennett, who developed and steered the Dierks Outlaw program for 16 seasons.
“If a guy can stay at one school for 16 years, it tells you he’s done a great job,” Perrin said, crediting Bennett with “resurrecting the program” and keeping the Outlaws competitive for so many years. “To step in here and experience what he experienced is a major deal. To be in these shoes is very flattering.”
Perrin was hired in May to replace Bennett. He comes to Dierks after a two-year stint as head coach and athletic director at Stuttgart. Perrin also coached at Mineral Springs for two seasons, Arkadelphia, Springdale, Bearden, Greenwood, Clinton, Lakeside and Alma. The former Ouachita Baptist University Tiger standout also played the 2001 season with the Bossier City Battle Wings in the AF2 League, a developmental league of the Arena Football League.
Just a few weeks ago, Perrin was still trying to learn his players’ first and last names. There have been plenty of changes around the field house and on the practice field for both the players and coaching staff since Perrin arrived. “Everything was new, from X’s and O’s, to how we train, and they’ve done an outstanding job,” Perrin said. “I couldn’t be more pleased.”
A lot has changed, but a lot has stayed the same and Perrin said he hopes to build on the familiar foundation already in place.
“I think the biggest change is the terminology,” he said. “We all ‘block down,’ we all ‘kick out’ but the way we call things now and the way they’ve called things in the past are two totally different things. It could be the same thing, but it’s different terminology and I think that’s been the biggest hurdle for the kids to get over.”
The Outlaw traditional spread-to-run offense will continue but the “I” formation will be there if needed. “You’ve got to be multiple,” the coach said. “We are 50-50 run-pass, but I think when the weather gets bad you better have something that you can get under center with.”
Perrin will be calling the shots on both offense and defense, something new on the Outlaw sidelines. “My passion is offense but I’ve kind of gotten known as a defensive guy and here I’m getting back on the offensive side,” he said, adding that he is pleased with his assistants who are “doing their jobs well.”
The Outlaw coaching staff is rounded out by Jeff Tipton, Stephen Sprick, Dustin Bissell, Kevin Alexander and Greg “Double G” Gibson.
Senior Caleb Adams will return to steer the Outlaw offense this season. Perrin described Adams, whose twin brother, Cale, will line up behind him at fullback, as “very attentive” to detail and eager to learn. “He’s done a really good job, like I said, everything’s new to everybody, but he’s really caught on to the offense,” Perrin added.
Along with the Adams boys, junior Brayden Kirby and senior Peyton Frachiseur will line up in the backfield that probably still bears the cleat marks left by one of Dierks’ all-time rushers Trendin McKinney.
“Brayden has some good speed, but he’s definitely a ‘power-cat’ guy,” Perrin said.
Return starter and senior Lane Woodruff will line up outside as receiver and junior Jarett Fox will be at tight end. Seniors Cale Adams, Colton Strode, Bradley Lowery, Jacob Sharp and Bradley Lowery will also be part of the receiver corps.
The offense will line up behind three seniors – Dalton Sherk at right guard, Gabe Humphreys at left guard and Andrew Hilton at left tackle – along with sophomore right tackle Cameron Pugh.
The Outlaw defensive line will see plenty two-way starters with Kirby, Cale Adams, Humphreys and senior Jesse Martin expected to see time at linebacker. Fox, Hilton and sophomores Sam Maxey and John Wilbanks will rotate in at defensive end and senior Jed Morrow will return at tackle with Sherk and senior Brent Armstrong.
Perrin said he has been pleased with his 17-player strong senior class and expects their leadership to help carry the team this season.
“They are great kids,” said Perrin about his upperclassmen and the encouragement and positive reinforcement he has seen so far. “When players start getting together like a family, I think that’s a good recipe there.”
The new coach also appreciates the built-in toughness that comes naturally with Outlaw Football.
“Very tough kids,” Perrin said. “And that puts a smile on my face.”
Perrin will look to rebound the Outlaws after the team finished the 2015 season with a 6-5 mark and a 28-8 loss to Conway Christian in Round 1 of the playoffs.
The first curve on the road to recovery is this Friday night against the Horatio Lions and their new head coach, David Bennett.
“It is what it is and we’re going to show up and try to win the game,” Perrin said. “We’re going to play everyone one of them to win.”
Kick-off is at 7:30.