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Arsenal Soccer

in this issue

8

Cyclone Soccer

Counting on Chemistry

10

Lady Cyclone Soccer

12 13

Eye On State Title

Panther Soccer

19

21

23 25 Bright Stars In The Valley 27 Interviews with Derek Birginske and Page 15 29 Corey Campbell Sand Lizard Soccer

A Family Tradition

Cyclone Baseball

Looking To Make a Big Hit

Cyclone Softball

Look To Return To State

Apache Baseball

30 32 33

Apache Softball Lamar Baseball Sand Lizard Baseball

Page 4

Sand Lizard Softball Lady Pirate Softball RYBA Baseball

Keeps Getting Better

Athlete Spotlight Page 37

43

Cyclone Track

A Season To Remember

SPRING Season into the

a division of

P.O. Box 9118 Russellville, AR 72801 www.arsports.net To advertise contact 479-445-7222 or 479-970-5478 Publishers Jeff Terry - George Farris Editor Jeff Terry

Associate Editor George Farris

Graphics/Layout Peg Bowen

Distribution Manager April Farris

Sales/Business Manager George Farris

Special Events Coordinator Bill Little Lead Sports Writer & Editor Eli Cranor

Assistant Sports Editor Jeff Mullen Contributors Jimmy Cole Danny Hipps Danny Owens Eric Hartzell Tim Carr Robert Prochazka Every precaution has been taken to avoid errors and omissions. However, we do apologize for any that may have been made. In the event of an error or omission for paid service, the liability shall be limited to the prorated abatement of the charge paid to the company. But in no event shall such liability exceed the amount payable to the company. No credit will be given for immaterial or unsubstantial errors.

Spring is on its way! Baseballs, softballs, shin guards, and track shoes are being brought out all across the River Valley. Many athletes are preparing for yet another season of spring sports. With so many different sports taking place in the spring, some athletes are even preparing for multiple teams. In this inaugural edition of AR Sports River Valley Spring Sports, we aim to give you the most in-depth coverage of all the sports taking place during the spring season. This is something that hasn’t been done before. This edition will be the first-ever, full color spring sports magazine for the River Valley. There are a lot of spring sports going on in the River Valley, and here at AR Sports we’ve done our best to give you the most complete coverage possible. In this issue there are teams like the Dardanelle Sand Lizards Lady Soccer team, who are going into only their third season and looking to make their mark. And there are teams like the Russellville Cyclone Soccer team, who have been in and out of the state playoffs for the last five years. There are also some key matchups in the River Valley this year. Twin brothers, Will and Wes McCrotty, coach the Dardanelle and Pottsville baseball teams. The brothers were teammates on the Russellville baseball team in their high school days. Needless to say, you don’t want to miss this year’s game between these two organizations. Here at AR Sports, we are dedicated to you and everything you do. We believe that there is a calling for more coverage of the sports in the River Valley. In order to meet the expectations of fans, players, parents, and coaches we have put together our own winning team of dedicated writers, editors, designers, interns, and sales staff to bring you the inaugural edition of the AR Sports, Spring Preview. In this edition you will find previews and recaps of some of the prominent baseball, softball, soccer, and track teams from the region. We’ve also included feature articles covering a club soccer team, the RYBA baseball league in Russellville, and an athlete spotlight focusing on the top spring sport performers in the River Valley. It takes perseverance, determination, and hard work to play any of the sports covered in this issue. All the players listed in this publication and many more who are members of other teams in the River Valley display those traits. And we are proud to showcase these extraordinary athletes for you. Just like the athletes preparing for the 2012 season, we’ve put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into this magazine. We are thankful for the communities, the coaches, the players, and the parents who made it all possible, because in the end, “it’s all about you!” Now let’s get to the sports! The Staff of AR Sports Published by WMP Marketing Inc. Russellville, AR www.arsports.net

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Arsenal Soccer: A Family Tradition Soccer has become an increasingly popular sport in the United States since the early 1990s. Much of this popularity growth can be attributed to the 1994 FIFA World Cup. It was the first time the United States had ever hosted the event. This spiked an interest in both the media and casual sport fans. From that point on, soccer had its roots firmly planted in American culture. But still, there’s something else. What causes hordes of parents, driving minivans piled with children, to make countless trips on weekends to soccer games and tournaments?

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There is something that has caused soccer to stick, and it’s all about family. There might be no greater example of this than the AVSA 97 Arsenal soccer team from Russellville, Arkansas. The Arsenal truly has a family tradition. This isn’t to say that there are numerous family members on the team, but instead, through the sport of soccer and the amount of time that these players have played together, they have become a family.

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The boys started playing in the U6 league in 2001 at the ages of four and five. At this point, most weren’t on the same team. They were all playing in the same league, but on opposing teams and competing against one another. David Duffield, Bryan Daiber, Patrick Williams, and David Sisson noticed the talent that the boys scattered amongst the league possessed. Soon thereafter this group of dads collected the most talented boys and formed a “Select Team,” at the age of ten. The next step was forming a “Classic Team,” at the age of twelve. Duffield and Sisson spearheaded this effort, they got certified to coach soccer at this level, and have been the coaches for the boys ever since. From that point on, no one has looked back, and the success, friendship, and family that have ensued are more than anyone could have ever imagined. Some members of the group are as follows: Peyton Duffield, David Sisson, Allen Daiber, Taylor Allen, Grant Gebhardt, Seth Grace, Hunter Mayo, Drew Coker, and Garrett Freeman. Others have also had a great impact on the team over the years, these include: Will Price, Mason Murdock, Landon Short, Braden Bennett, Miguel Loazana, Samuel Pegg, Jonathan Meyers, William Crisostomo, Kervin Flores, Alonso Torres, Jacob Chernivec and Trace Laffoon. “We know how to play well together,” says Grant Gebhardt, an Arsenal Soccer team member. “It’s almost like we know what everyone’s going to do before we do it. It’s been a really good experience.” This group has won two state titles at the ten and thirteen year old

divisions. They were finalist in state at the age of fifteen. They won the Memphis Soccer Elite tournament in 2010, the CCSA Harvest Cup in 2006 and 2009. They were finalists at the Fort Smith Express Spring Kickoff in 2008, Fort Smith Dog Days in 2010, and at the Ozark Classic Cup in 2006. They were also finalists in the Arkansas State Premier League in 2010. This same team was also invited to compete in the Elite Division of the Tulsa Blitz Under Armour Invitational and competed against a top twenty-five, nationally ranked team. Some members have participated in the Walt Disney 3V3 World Championships in 2007. Some players have even gone on to participate in the ODP, the Olympic Development Program, which requires a two-month tryout process. Peyton Duffield made the Arkansas 97 team in 2010 and 2011. He also went to the U.S. regional camp at the University of Alabama, the sub regional camp at Jackson, Mississippi, and the Arkansas-Louisiana College Combine in Monroe, Louisiana. Landon Short made the Arkansas Regional 96 team camp. David Sisson was a part of the Arkansas 97 team in 2010. Braden Bennett and Trace Laffoon were both a part of Arkansas 97 team in 2010 and went to the sub regional camp in Jackson, Mississippi. Allen Daiber was a part of the Arkansas 96 team in 2009. Taylor Allen, Samuel Pegg, and Seth Grace have also all participated in the Olympic Development Program. It is evident that this group has enjoyed its fair share of success. A large part of that success can be attributed to David Sisson, head coach and father of player, David Sisson, and David Duffield, assistant coach and father of player, Peyton Duffield.

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David Sisson got involved because he wanted to be a part of something special. He also knew these boys needed stability, and he knew he could provide it. “I really felt like I had something to offer. I wanted for these boys to have someone who could be there, day in and day out. I could do that for them,” says Sisson. Duffield has been with them since the beginning and watched them grow, on and off the field. “They started off as little kids, who might stop and watch an airplane fly by, but now they’ve competing against the top players in the country. They have always been a quality bunch, their character hasn’t changed,” Duffield says.

all year, usually thirty to thirty-five games,” says Duffield. But most of that time is spent in preparation on the practice field. Throughout the year the team will practice two or three times a week. When asked about a word to describe Duffield has invested a great amount of time with the Arsenal this group, Duffield soccer team. “Soccer really doesn’t have an offseason, we play responds by saying,

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“Character, these guys are all about character. As good of athletes as they are, they’re even better kids. It wouldn’t matter what they were doing, they’d be successful at it.” This same group has played together since they were eight years old, and is now in the ninth grade getting ready to begin their first year as high school athletes. “They’re ready for high school,” Duffield says. “They’re fundamentally sound, and they are the only team that will have all the same guys playing for one school. Our guys should be primed to continue Russellville’s great tradition in soccer, and hopefully win multiple state championships.” Sisson also thinks the boys will be ready for high school soccer. “They are very prepared,” Sisson says. “They are well traveled, well coached and have received a bunch of outside training. They’ve been through all levels of soccer.” He also thinks their long history together will prove useful. “These guys know how to win and lose together. They’ve been through all the highs and the lows together. They are great athletes, and they really want to win.” Duffield and Sisson will of course be sad to see his boys move on, but the group still plans to stay intact during the offseason. They will be able to compete in club soccer as long as the high school season is not in process. There are plans to keep playing for however long the boys want to stay together. “There was a time when we lost at the U12 State Tournament. I can still remember their faces coming off the field,” says Sisson. “They were really disappointed. This is a great memory for me because the next year they worked harder than ever and came back to win the State Tournament.” This type of dedication and teamwork shows exactly why this group is something special.

In the end, though, it’s all about family. “Relationships are the biggest thing I’ve gotten from this experience,” says Duffield, “not only with the kids, but the families. None of us really knew each other when this whole thing started, but now we’re all best friends. They pick up my kids. I pick up theirs. It’s like one big family.” Team sports have the ability to bind us together in ways that we never thought possible. “It’s like I have seventeen sons, and there’s nothing we wouldn’t do for each other. It’s very rare to see a group that works so well together,” says Duffield. Since soccer’s U.S. origins in the early 1990s, there’s been countless numbers of “soccer moms” and dads, for that matter, tirelessly hauling their kids to tournament after tournament. For those of us who’ve wondered why, well it’s not all about the wins, the trophies, or the miles covered. It’s about the family.

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In 2012 On The Field Head Coach: Jared Fuller AD: Jim Dickerson Principal: Wesley White 2203 South Knoxville Ave, Russellville Gym: 479-968-3152 Class: 6A Conference: East Colors: Red & Black Mascot: Cyclones

The 2012 Cyclone soccer team has a lot of chemistry. With four sets of brothers on the team, and a core group that has played in the last two 6A state title games, this group is poised to make great strides in the 2012 season. Head Coach, Jared Fuller, also expects big things from his team this year. “This was our second great year in a row. It was tough losing in the finals, but we got some positives from that game. It really made us focus on our goals. In the end, it’s not all about winning and losing. We really focus on creating great men. We have a lot to build on, the other teams in the 6A can’t match our strength,” says Fuller.

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The strength that Coach Fuller is speaking of has a lot to do with a core group of seniors. Jaime Duarte is one of the best players in the state. “He’s a smart player, and when he’s on the field we’re a better team,” says Fuller. Paul Harrell is the anchor for the team. “He’s gotten better and better,” says Fuller. “He’s a strong defender and should be able to settle in this year and really lead our team.” Mason McNeill≠ will provide a strong utility weapon. Jonathan Miranda has become a shutdown defender and a dangerous shooter. And Jordan Sparks has proven to be a superior athlete. “He has a ton of speed. He’s fast enough to keep everything out of our backfield,” says Fuller.

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Even coming off of two amazing seasons and returning such a solid group of seniors, Coach Fuller still sees room for improvement. “Every practice we focus on getting ourselves better. That is always a goal. Our seniors are already extremely focused. They know what it takes and don’t want to waste any time,” says Fuller.

They’re the top team, and we want to be the best,” says Fuller.

Russellville has been building a solid foundation under Fuller since his arrival in 2006. Each team has paved the way for the next. With two state title appearances in the last two years, things are primed for 2012 to be a spectacular year. “A Conference and Focus is a huge positive for this team. State Championship are top priorities They’ve been close before, and this year for us this year,” says Fuller. Come out and cheer on the Cyclones they want to make it all the way. “I can’t March 6th at Russellville high school as they take on Searcy. stress how focused these guys are, especially the seniors. We’re in much better shape at this point than we were last year, and that results from our focus. It really helps me out as a coach because I don’t have to waste time conditioning them,” says Fuller. Coach Fuller has his eyes set on two teams in particular. “Searcy will be a good judge for where we are. And we’d love to beat Catholic.

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Lady In 2012 On The Field Head Coach: Kelly Young AD: Jim Dickerson Principal: Wesley White 2203 South Knoxville Ave, Russellville Gym: 479-968-3152 Class: 6A Conference: East Colors: Red & Black Mascot: Cyclones

After a tough run in 7A Central conference play, the Lady Cyclones dominated the 6A state tournament. They played Harrison in the finals and lost in a close game. “We just couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net,” says head coach, Kelly Young. “We still think about that game a lot. It should be a motivating memory throughout this season. We should be able to feed off of it,” says Young. The Lady Cyclones have a large group of players that are expected to have great production in 2012. Lindsey Hefner is a smart defender that knows when to attack. Alexa Sotomayor is the goalkeeper for the Lady Cyclones and had an amazing season last year. Mary Carol Davis is a leader

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on the team that can make a lot of good things happen. Alyson Frost could possibly have the best feet on the team. Casey Ward has great leg strength and crosses. Sarah Prochazka is a speedy, fearless player who is expected to score a lot of points. Bailey Stokes is an all around player that never gets tired. Katie Hamilton, Madisun White, Bethany Freeman, and Madison Shillings are all expected to have big years, as well. With as many talented players as the Lady Cyclones have, one might think that there would be some struggle for the team’s star spot. But that is not the case. “They are the most unselfish group I’ve ever seen,” says Young. They have an uncanny ability to work together. A lot of them have played together since they were around ten years old. All in all, they’re just a great bunch to

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spend time with, and that really makes things easy for me,” says Young. Last year, the team really worked on possessions and being able to take a lot of shots. This year, though, there will be more of an emphasis on accuracy. “One goal for this year is shooting accuracy. We still need to focus on possessions, but shooting accuracy is going to be a big one,” says Young. Coach Young has her eyes set on one team in particular for 2012. “We’d really love to beat Conway. Both teams have been together a long time, and played together a long time. They’ve basically been playing against each other since they were ten. There’s a big rivalry there, not just because it’s Conway and Russellville, but also because we have a history with them. Beating them in 2012 would really be nice,” says Young. The Lady Cyclones are coming off of a great 2011 season and expect even bigger things for 2012. They have the girls to do it. With a large group of returners and 2012 state title. The Lady Cyclones are set to play Searcy on strong core leadership, this team is ready to make a run for the March 6th at Russellville high school.

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Over the past five years, the Clarksville Panthers have established a winning tradition in soccer. They have made it to the state tournament every year since 2007. They played in the state finals in 2009, and they won the state title in 2007. Needless to say, this organization expects big things. Lasts year the Panthers made it deep into the state tournament but suffered a heartbreaking loss to Conway-St. Joe’s in the semifinals. This year they look to build off of that success.

communicate and win at midfield, we’ll be able to be pretty good this year,” says Qualls.

On The Field Head Coach: Bryan Qualls

The goals are high for AD: Gary Thompson the Clarksville Panthers Principal: John Burke this year. “We want 1703 Clark Road, to make it to the state Clarksville, AR finals,” says Qualls. Gym: 479-754-3712 “That’s been our goal Class: 4A for many years now, and we’ve been successful. If Conference: 4 we make it to that game, Colors: Red & Black Mascot: Panthers Head Coach, Bryan Qualls is confident in his team. A lot of that anything can happen.” confidence comes from a trio of returning seniors who he expects This is the last year the to carry much of the load this year. Panthers will be participating in the 4A classification. Next year David Cortes is one of those seniors. He has started for the Panthers they will make the jump to 5A. Coach Qualls is already preparing since his freshman year, and garnered three All-State selections for this transition. “This year I’ve worked hard to schedule some along the way. “He has a great attitude. He’s an amazing athlete 5A teams. It will be a good test of our team. We’ll be able to see how we stack up against those schools and know where we really with an even better work ethic,” says Qualls. are,” says Qualls. Ivan Flores is another impact senior for the Panthers in 2012. Flores and Cortes have played soccer together since they were There are also some old rivalries that the Panthers will face in kids. Flores’ role will be strictly defense this year. He will be the the 2012 season. “Our home and away games against DeQueen anchor for the Panthers defense. “We want to run a lot of our stuff will be really important. They’ve won the title for three years in a row, and if we can solidify a number one seed going into the state through him,” says Qualls. tournament, then we’ll be in pretty good shape. But in the end, all Ederlee Gomez is the final senior that Coach Qualls is really conference games are important,” says Qualls. counting on. Gomez missed most of last season due to injury. But this year he will return and fill the goalie position for the With a core group of seniors returning and a history of success, the Clarksville Panther Soccer team is primed for success. The Panthers. On a team with so much success, one would think that there Panthers first big test will come in February, against a 5A Harrison wouldn’t be much need for improvement, but not according to team. The Panthers would love for you to come out and support Coach Qualls. “We have been really solid, but this year we are their run at another state title in 2012. focusing on possession. That aspect is important to us. If we can

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On The Field Head Coach: Bryan Hardaway AD: Larry Walker Principal: Marcia Lawrence 1079 West State HWY 28, Dardanelle, AR Gym: 479-229-4655 Class: 4A Conference: 4 Colors: Red & White Mascot: Sand Lizard

The Dardanelle Sand Lizards are an up and coming soccer program. Head Coach, Bryan Hardaway is going into his third season as both the girls and the boys’ coach. He looks to keep improving with each season, and 2012 is no exception. Last season the boys finished third in a tough 4A conference behind two powerhouses, Clarksville and DeQueen. They were helped by the additions of first time players that were both seniors and freshmen. In only his second season, Hardaway reached the state tournament for his first time, and only the second time in Dardanelle’s soccer history. The girl’s soccer program is only two years old. They had a tough run through the season, only winning one game, but they also lost four games by only one goal. Even with these challenges the girls finished the season strong and were only one game away from entering the state tournament.

Randy Velasquez, a senior, should be an impact player. He is also a kicker for the football team and has the state record for field goals made in a single season. Juan Chaves, Samuel Aceves, Jake Biggleston, Ruben Perez, and Christian Chaves are all expected to be major contributors for the 2012 season as well.

The girls also have a strong group coming back for this season. Most of these girls have been with Hardaway throughout his time as the head coach. Courtney Johnson is a two-time, All-State selection that returns for her senior year. She’s a smart player with a strong leg and a leader on the team. Jayde Bryson is another girl expected to have a strong showing in 2012. She is also a senior. “Bryson probably has the best leg on the team,” says Hardaway. The boys Kendra Collins, Maxie Xiong, and Amy Duncan are all expected have a to play major roles in 2012. solid group r e t u r n i n g . Coming off of their strong 2011 season, Coach Hardaway has high hopes for the boy’s soccer team. “We’ve got to play better

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together. If we do that, we can win more games. We had a lot of good players, but we’ve got to work on teamwork. We are really focusing on winning the conference and making it to the state tournament,” says Hardaway. The girls are a young program, but Coach Hardaway still expects them to compete. “With the girls being only in their third year together we are really still focusing on learning the game. I want them to compete, and we’re about to the point where we can compete with anyone,” says Hardaway. Coach Hardaway really admires the work ethic of his boys’ team. “They are hard workers. That’s their best overall attribute. They just really love the game. They’re not out there for themselves, and that means a lot. I called their practice the other day, and they stayed out for an extra hour just to work by themselves,” says Hardaway. The girl’s group is close knit and that chemistry is something Coach Hardaway really enjoys. “They’re all friends. That’s really nice to be a part of. They have an uncommon chemistry, and that alone will help them as a team. Both Dardanelle Soccer teams will open up competition on March 1st against Morrilton at Keenan field. They would love for you to come out and support them as they look for success in 2012.

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The River Valley is a small region in the small state of Arkansas. Each year many athletes prepare for high school seasons, and play their last game as they finish their senior year. Players that make it to the college level are rare, especially ones that are offered scholarships and especially ones that are offered scholarships at the Division 1 level. But this year is an exception. Both Russellville and Pottsville have star baseball players that have already committed to the two largest baseball programs in the state.

We sat down with both of these young men and learned a little more about their lives and baseball careers. ***

Leading off is Russellville’s Derek Birginske. AR Sports: How did you get started in baseball?

Birginske: Well I was right around four years old. My Dad was the one that got me into the league. Derek Birginske and Corey Campbell are those two players. They It was a tee ball league. both have had amazing record-breaking careers and have helped AR Sports: What other sports their respective teams to successful seasons. did you play growing up? Was Birginske is returning to the Russellville Cyclone baseball team baseball always your favorite? for his senior year. He has garnered All State selections in both his sophomore and junior years, and looks to make it a third in his Birginske: I was lucky because I senior campaign. At 6’0, 215lbs, Birginske is a power hitter. He was always athletic. So I played is one home run away from tying the state record for s in a high a lot of sports growing up. I school career. He has been named “Batting Champion” every year played basketball, football, and baseball. But yes, baseball was he has played for the Cyclones. always my favorite. Campbell is entering his senior year with the Pottsville Apache baseball team. He has been named a preseason All American. He AR Sports: Who’s your favorite runs the sixty-yard dash in 6.58 seconds, which is ranked in the athlete in any sport? top 1% of players his age. And he’s a projected top ten round pick Birginske: I really like Josh Hamilton. His story is just amazing. in this year’s draft. It’s really great to see everything he’s been through, and how he’s After speaking with both of these players, it became apparent that turned it into so much success. He seems like he’s a good guy. their skills on the baseball field are not their only strong attribute. And the fact that he’s a great player helps too. These are two respectful, driven, quality student athletes.

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AR Sports: Who has wasn’t the biggest or most talented guy, but he made his mark been your biggest because he worked hard. influence, on and off the field? AR Sports: Who has been your biggest influence on and off the field? Birginske: I would have to say my Dad. Campbell: My mom and dad. They know what it takes. Mom He’s always kept me always tells me that I got to get up and get what I want. And Dad focused on my goals. wants me to be perfect in everything I do. He’s done his best to make sure that I stay AR Sports: What’s been a highlight from your baseball career on the right path, and thus far? it’s really paid off. Campbell: When I was twelve years old, I was playing for this AR Sports: What’s team called the Cobras. We won state three years in a row with been your greatest that team, and I can highlight thus far remember this one throughout your baseball career? game where I hit three home runs. I Birginske: Last summer I was able to attend the Heartland Classic still remember that, Home run Derby in Oklahoma. I won the derby by two home and it was really runs. That was a really cool experience. special. AR Sports: Where will you be headed to play college ball? How AR Sports: Where did you come to that decision? are you going to college? What Birginske: Well I got offered by the University of Central Arkansas was the decisionfirst, and there were a couple of other places that offered early, but making process then Arkansas State offered and I really liked the place. It was one like? of those things where I woke up every morning and was excited about going there, so I knew it was right. Campbell: I made my decision to play AR Sports: What are your own personal goals for 2012? for the University of Arkansas back Birginske: Really I just want to do better than I did last year. I in August. It really want to pitch better, hit better, and field better. And I want to help wasn’t a hard the Cyclones win the 2012 state championship. choice. I’ve always *** wanted to be a Razorback, and when the chance came along I jumped on it. Their Next up is Pottsville’s Corey Campbell. coaching staff seems like a quality bunch as well. AR Sports: When did you start playing baseball? How did you AR Sports: What are your own personal goals for the 2012 get into it? season? Campbell: It was tee ball. I was four years old. My family has always been really big into sports. My mom played at Southern Methodist University, so playing sports came naturally. It was just something fun to do.

Campbell: Honestly, I just want to reach my own expectations and continually get better every day. ***

Derek Birginske and Corey Campbell have already had amazing baseball careers. Both started when they were four years old and are already making the next step into collegiate athletics. AR Sports and the entire River Valley are proud to have such fine AR Sports: Who is your favorite young men representing their region. Be sure and catch them in athlete in any sport? action with the Russellville Cyclones and the Pottsville Apaches in 2012. Campbell: Brett Favre. I really like him because he was an underdog. He Pg. 16 • AR Sports • Spring Sports 2012

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IN 2012

Head Coach: Matt Long Asst Coach: Denny McCrotty AD: Jim Dickerson Principal: Wesley White 2203 South Knoxville Ave Russellville Gym - 479-968-3152 Class: 6A Conference: East Colors:Red & Black Mascot: Cyclones

After a productive 2011 season in the 7A Central, the Cyclone baseball team is looking for big things in 2012. Last year the Cyclones went 18-12, and were eliminated from the 6A state baseball tournament by Texarkana in the first round. That game left a bitter taste in the mouth of a team that returns eight pivotal seniors who have all played varsity ball since they were freshmen. Of all the players to watch for in 2012, Derek Birginske might be the most impressive. He’s a dual player who pitches in the upper eighties. He plays all around the field, at both outfield and infield. He’s accumulated thirty-two home runs during his high school career, and has signed a letter of intent with the Arkansas State Red Wolves. The two-time, All-State Birginske looks to make it

three All-State selections en route to leading the Cyclone to great things in 2012. Cody Jones is also expected to have a big year with the Cyclones. He’s a left-handed pitcher, who held a 1.86 ERA in conference play last year. Frank Chiolino is the Cyclones’ “Mr. Hustle.” He’s the spark plug that makes the team go. Eric Turner is a two-year starter, the first baseman, and the team’s cleanup hitter. James Reasoner is threeyear starter who provides a great utility weapon for the Cyclones. Cody Cooper, Mike Cowles, and Brant Curry round out the list of impressive seniors who are expected to have a big impact in 2012.

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Besides the senior class, there are also some junior players who could have a large impact this season for the Cyclones. Hayden Hipps is a catcher and an outfielder that’s started for two years and should prove productive for this season. Mitchell Mullen started a large amount of games as a sophomore and will have a big role for this season. Cody Campbell, Jordan Barnes, and Tyler Lawson are all also expected to have large roles as juniors. With the strong leadership and experience of the senior class head coach, Matt Long expects big things from his team this year. “Of course we want to win a 7A Central Conference Championship, but above all else, we’d like to hang a 6A State Championship up beside our name. We’re confident, and our guys have the right to be. There’s a lot of experience and talent on this team. We’re not overconfident by any means, but we expect to win games,” says Long. In regards to his team’s strengths, Long says, “We’ve got a deep bullpen. That’s always a plus. And we’ve got a good mixture of speed and power. We’re returning six starters who had four or more home runs last season.” Long has a couple of targets for this upcoming season. “Conway is always a team you want to beat if you play sports in Russellville. But we’ve also developed a rivalry with Catholic. This bunch has had some battles against that team,” says Long. The Cyclones’ first home game is March 12th, against Fort Smith Southside, and they would love for you to come out and support their run for a 6A state title in 2012.

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IN 2012 Head Coach: Harley Sisson AD: Jim Dickerson Principal: Wesley White 2203 South Knoxville Ave Russellville, AR Gym - 479-968-3152 Class: 6A Conference: East Colors:Red & Black Mascot: Cyclones

2011 proved to be head coach, Harley Sisson’s best season since he’s been at Russellville. The Cyclone Softball team made it to the second round of the state tournament and boasted a 14-8 season. From that team, they’ve only lost one starter in Jolynda Davis at center field. Savannah Jackson, Dianna Hale, Zoey Adkins and Brooks Ann Laffoon are all in the running for the open centerfield spot.

Sisson expects to have good production from Megan Hale and Savannah Jackson, both seniors. “Megan has a strong arm, and is expected to fill our number three hitter’s spot,” says Sisson. “Savannah ended last year’s season hitting extremely well, and she should be our cleanup this year.” Kayla Sysco is a junior who is also expected to have a solid season. She’s a good hitter with a good glove. Sysco will play second base.

Cortney Norman and Sidney Rupe are both sophomores who will have integral roles on the 2012 team. “Cortney is our catcher. She’s a smart player and a good batter,” says Sisson. “Sidney is Going into the 2012 season Coach a left handed pitcher who also plays first base. She’s our number

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one pitcher right now, and this should be her best year.” Andrea Kendrick, Diana Hale and Sommer Purtcher should all have a large impact, as well. Coach Sisson has his goals set high for this season. “We would really like to win the conference,” says Sisson. “We’ve got a good chance of going even deeper into the state tournament. We’ll just have to stay healthy and consistent.”

One thing that needs improvement from last year is scoring with

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runners on base. “We have to hit better in critical situations. We have to produce runs when we have people on base. This is a big focus in our offseason,” says Sisson. “We only lost one starter from last year, so I’d have to say experience is one of our strongest attributes. This is a really fun bunch to coach. We’ve got some great players, and they’re a very cohesive unit. There’s really not a weak spot in the field or in the lineup,” says Sisson. This year Coach Sisson has his eyes set on Bryant. “We’d really love to beat them. They’ve won conference and state the last two years. When we play them it’ll be a good measuring stick for where we are. If we beat them we can beat anyone. Competing with the upper level teams really lets you know where you are,” says Sisson. The Cyclone Softball team is expecting big things for the 2012 season. They return a large group that proved to be successful in 2011. The Cyclones open their season Febuary 27th, at 5pm. The game will be held at Hickey Park, and the Cyclones will be playing Ozark.

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IN 2012

Head Coach: Wes McCrotty AD: Chance Johnson/ Bryan Rust Principal: Jonathon Bradley 500 Apache Drive, Pottsville, AR Gym - 479-968-6338 Class: 4A Conference: 4 Colors:Black and Gold Mascot: Apaches

expected to lead the Apaches on the mound. Matt Sims is an overall utility player. “He’s a competitor. He’ll have to be a leader for us on the field,” says McCrotty. Colton Moore will be the catcher. He had a good season last year and will look to build Of all the players for this year’s squad, Corey Campbell might be off of it. He also plays basketball the one to watch the closest. The junior has already committed to for the Apaches. play baseball for the University of Arkansas Razorbacks. “He’s an overall athlete,” says McCrotty. “He’ll play short stop for us this Some others that are expected to year, but he can do it all.” have big contributions are Parker Thompson, Matt Rush, Sean The 2012 Apaches also boast a strong senior class. Korey Johnson Ellison, and Travis Cole. is a left-handed pitcher that went 7-3 last year as a starter. He’s The Pottsville Apache baseball team has a lot to build on going into the 2012 season. They won the 4-4A conference title. They return a solid group with a lot of experience. And they are expecting a really great season. Head coach, Wes McCrotty, likes what he sees. “We were a young team last year, and we had some success. This year a bunch of those guys are back, and they know what it takes to win,” says McCrotty.

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There’s a lot to be said about having that many impact players returning for a season, especially at a smaller school. “With a combination of the guys we have coming back and the new guys coming in, we should be good. There’s a lot of talent and experience. I know we’ll be sound defensively. As long as we stay in the moment offensively and take advantage of our situations, we’ll be fine,” says McCrotty.

there is one game that holds a little more significance to the head coach. “On a personal level the Dardanelle game is pretty important. My brother (Will McCrotty) is the head coach over there, and we haven’t had the chance to really compete at anything since we graduated high school in 1997,” says McCrotty.

The Apaches are poised to have a great season. They have depth, talent, and a desire to win. Their first game will be held at Even with strong numbers and the potential to have a great 4:30pm in Pottsville, Arkansas, season, Coach McCrotty still likes to take it one step at a time. at City Park. The Apaches will “We just want to win as many games as possible. Our goals are to be playing Danville. win the conference, the district, and the regional tournaments. I tell the guys that if we make it to state anything can happen, and we could have a good chance to make a run at it,” says McCrotty. The schedule for this year is tough. Every game will be a battle because of the strength of the Apaches conference. “All the teams in our conference are good. Every game will be a game that we have to win,” says McCrotty. But

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IN 2012

Head Coach: Greg Jones AD: Chance Johnson/ Bryan Rust Principal: Jonathon Bradley 500 Apache Drive, Pottsville, AR Gym - 479-968-6338 Class: 4A Conference: 4 Colors:Black and Gold Mascot: Apaches There was much to be excited about in Greg Jones first season as the Pottsville Apaches head softball coach. Going into the season, time was an issue for the team because many of the girls were participants in other spring sports. “I didn’t have a lot of time with them before the season. We just kind of had to jump in, and it worked out well because they really peaked towards the end of the season,” says Jones. The Apaches went 25-10 in Coach Jones first year, won their conference, and made it to the state tournament.

what it takes, and they’re willing to put the time in.”

Brianna Beaton is another senior who should have a big impact on the 2012 season. “She’s a true utility player,” says Jones. “She’s our lead off hitter and gets everything going for us.” Beaton is also a guard on the Apaches’ basketball team.

The Apaches will also get to test themselves against what could possibly be the top team in the entire state, Bryant. “That game will be a great measuring stick. We will really get to see how good we are,” says Jones. The Apaches’ first game will be held March 1st, against Atkins. The game will be played at City Park, in Pottsville, at 4:30pm. Come out and cheer on the Pottsville Apache softball team as they look to have another great season.

The Apache softball team has high goals set for 2012. “We aim to win the conference, district, regional and state tournaments. We had a great year in 2011, but we kind of stumbled at the end. That is fresh on our minds, and it’s great motivation. We are really focusing on finishing this year,” says Jones.

Every game is important to the Apaches, but Coach Jones has his The Apaches are only losing one girl, Victoria Huie, from last eyes set on one team in particular. “Dardanelle is always a big year. They return eight starters and should have a lot to build on. game,” says Jones. “I coached a lot of those girls when they were freshmen, so there’s a little bit of a Jessie Van Es will lead the team this year. She is a senior and a rivalry. We played them four times returning All State selection. “She’ll be our top pitcher, and she’s last year and won three of the four. just an all around great player,” says Jones. We look to build on that this year.”

Laken Gray will be the team’s catcher this year. She’s a junior who played shortstop last year, but because of her strong arm she’ll be moving to catcher for 2012 season. Taylor Phillips will play both 1st and 3rd base. “She really came on at the end of last season, and I expect her to build off of that,” says Jones. A large part of the Apaches success can be attributed to their work ethic. “This team really knows how to work,” says Jones. “They have a strong motivation to get better. This is a team that’s willing to stay after practice and do whatever it takes to get better. They’ve had a little taste of it and are very hungry. They know

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A NEW TEAM

Head Coach: Larry DeBusk AD: Lance Spence Principal: Mitch Harris 301 Elberta, Lamar, AR Gym -479-885-3977 Class: 3A Conference: 4 Colors:Orange and Black Mascot: Warriors

Last year, the Lamar Warrior baseball team won their conference with an 11-1 in-conference record. The Warriors made it to the regional tournament, but lost. “Last year was a good year, but we lost a lot of guys,” says head coach, Larry DeBusk. “We’re going to be a young team this year. We should be a lot of fun to watch. We’ll be a solid fielding team, but we’ll have to work on our hitting.” Coach Debusk is relying on a solid group of returners to lead the 2012 Warrior baseball team. Jordan Haas is going into his junior year, and is already a three-year starter. Last year he maintained over a .400 batting average. “He’s our go to guy,” says DeBusk, “He’ll be our lead-off batter this year. He’s just an all-around

baseball player.” Zach Dossett is a senior outfielder. Zach Hamm returns for his senior season as an infielder. And Dillon Cowell returns for his junior year. All three return after starting in 2011, and Coach DeBusk is relying heavily on them for the 2012 season. All the other positions are expected to be filled by a large group of freshmen and sophomores. Ryan Jones is one of the freshmen that are expected to produce for the varsity team during the 2012 season. Coach Debusk is relying on the 2012 Warriors’ in-depth baseball

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2012. “We’ve been around the top for the last few years now. It’ll just be a matter of hanging around throughout the season and hoping that we can get in there,” says DeBusk. Come out and support the Lamar Warriors’ baseball team in 2012 as they look to continue their success with a fresh faced, energetic, young team. The Warriors’ first home game will be March 12th against the Atkins Red Devils, at Warrior Field. The game will be played at 4pm. Coach DeBusk and his team would love your support.

knowledge to help out this season. “This group has a bunch of kids that have played a lot of baseball, and they really understand the little things it takes to win. A lot of these guys play summer ball together, so they get to see so many different situations. There is no substitute for experience. Also, this group has a tremendous work ethic. Which always helps,” says DeBusk. Coach DeBusk hopes that his team will continue their success in

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The First Step Will McCrotty played professional baseball after leaving Russellville high school with both the Dodgers and then the Indians, from 1997 to 2004, before shoulder injuries ended his playing career. Will is the son of long-time Cyclone baseball coach, Denny McCrotty, and brother of Pottsville head baseball coach Wes McCrotty. Needless to say, baseball is a family tradition with the McCrottys, and Will is keeping that tradition alive as he embarks on his inaugural season as the Dardanelle Sand Lizard’s head baseball coach.

McCrotty has high hopes for his team in their first season Head Coach: Bryan Hardaway together. “We’d really AD: Larry Walker like to win the district Principal: Marcia Lawrence tournament,” says 1079 West State HWY 28, McCrotty. “And of Dardanelle, AR course a state title Gym: 479-229-4655 is on our minds. We Class: 4A just have to take it Conference: 4 Last year McCrotty was finishing up his last year of school and one game at a time Colors: Red & White looking for possible job opportunities. “I called around and asked and good things will Mascot: Sand Lizard if there would be a spot open in the area. The Dardanelle job come.” opened up and things just kind of fell into place,” says McCrotty. If there’s one thing The Sand Lizards have a good bunch of players coming back for that Coach McCrotty is going to harp on this season, it’s got to the 2012 season. McCrotty has only been working with them since be attitude. “I’m really big on the way we approach things. It’s all December, but he is very impressed with his senior class. about attitude. We can’t control who we play or who they have on their team, but we can control our attitude,” says McCrotty. Landon Whorton is one of the seniors that McCrotty expects big things from in 2012. “Whorton is going to be our catcher this Coach McCrotty has his eyes set on one game in particular for year. He was All-Conference last year and we expect him to have the 2012 season. “Of course I’m excited about coaching against another great season, we’re even going to try him out on the mound my brother. The Pottsville game will be the first time we’ve been this year. He’s really a leader for this team,” says McCrotty. on the field together since high school. It will be fun to compete against each other,” says McCrotty. There is also a pair of brothers, reminiscent of the McCrotty brothers, which will be seniors for the Sand Lizards this year. The Dardanelle Sand Lizards are looking for success in 2012 Jared and Jordan Hull are expected to have a great 2012 season. under new head coach, Will McCrotty. Come out and watch their Jared is a left-handed pitcher, who also plays right field and has a first home game, February 28th against Paris at Merrit Park in lot of power in his bat. Jordan is a right-handed pitcher that also Dardanelle, Arkansas. The game is scheduled for 5pm. plays first base. Matt Brewer is a multi sport senior that McCrotty is really counting on for his athleticism. “Brewer will be our shortstop. He’s an all around athlete that plays football, basketball, and baseball. He should really help us this year,” says McCrotty. Dalton Lorenz is only a junior, but is expected to have a large impact in 2012. “He’s a big kid, around 6’4,” says McCrotty. “He’s going to pitch for us some and play 3rd base. He should also provide some power in the middle of our lineup.” After only having a month with his team thus far, McCrotty already thinks he’s gotten a good feel for them. “This team’s all about hard work. We practiced all through December, and they know what it takes. They really have good team chemistry, and they want to be the best that they can be. If we work hard, everything else will follow,” says McCrotty. www.arsports.net

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A Great Start in 2012 The Dardanelle Sand Lizard Softball team might have out done themselves last year. First year head coach, Kole Carpenter, was surprised by the team’s success. Going into the year, the team only had six seniors, and they were forced to play many underclassmen. “The year started out a little rough,” said Carpenter. “But we really finished strong.” And finishing strong is an understatement. The Sand Lizard Softball team finished as district champions of the 4-4A, and they even made it to the second round of the state tournament. For the 2012 season the Sand Lizards are returning a ton of experience, every starting position is back except for three. This year the expectations are high, and the Sand Lizards are poised for success.

Coach Carpenter is expecting big things for his 2012 Sand Lizards, but he knows that they are not taking anything for granted. “This is a hardworking, competitive, and coachable team.

Head Coach: Bryan Hardaway AD: Larry Walker Principal: Marcia Lawrence 1079 West State HWY 28, Dardanelle, AR Gym: 479-229-4655 Class: 4A Conference: 4 Colors: Red & White Mascot: Sand Lizard

They know what it takes. We won a lot of games last year Coach Carpenter expects big things from a number of his girls, just because of their and but there are a few that are really expected to be impact players competiveness because they never in 2012. gave up,” says Carpenter. Allea Belle Gongola is a senior centerfielder and shortstop. “She is one of the hardest working, most coachable players I’ve ever “We’d like to win the 4-4A conference again. We’d also like to reach the regional and state tournaments. Those are our goals, but coached in my entire career,” says Carpenter. we’ll just have to take it one game at a time,” says Carpenter. Laura Vorster is a senior right fielder. “She’s really a solid clutch Coach Carpenter knows that his conference will be tough, and that hitter. She came through a lot for us last year,” says Carpenter. it will take complete concentration to be successful. “Every team Whitley Madison is a sophomore pitcher. “She’ll be our go-to in the conference is tough, especially this year. This conference pitcher this year,” says Carpenter. “She was one of the reasons we has produced a state champion three out of the last four years. So if we can make it out of this conference, we should be in good had success last year, she was able to really step up.” shape,” says Carpenter. Stefanie Traigle is a sophomore infielder. “She’s a very solid defender. She might have the best glove on the team,” says The Dardanelle Sand Lizards softball team is looking for big things in 2012. They have an experienced team that knows what Carpenter. it takes to win. Their first home game is March 9th, against the Raley Richey is a sophomore catcher. “She’s reliable behind Atkins Red Devils. The game is at Merritt Park and scheduled the plate,” says Carpenter. “It’s good to have that kind of for 5pm. The Sand Lizards would love for you to come out and support them as they look to make a run for the title in 2012. dependability.”

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After coming off a 20-10 season in the tough 4A classification in 2011, the Dover Pirate Softball team and head coach, Ed Kelley, were not satisfied. “We competed with everyone. We had a lot of confidence and experience. There were some really solid seniors on that team, and we really wanted to reach our full potential for them,” says Kelley. The Lady Pirates lost in the second round of the District Tournament to rival, Dardanelle. With that being said, the 2012 squad returns a core senior group, and their expectations are high. Jennifer Fields is one of the seniors that the Lady Pirates will be relying on this year. She is a four-year starter, a three-time AllDistrict, and a two-time All-State selection. Lena Little is another senior that is expected to have a big impact. She is the centerfielder for the Lady Pirates. She’s a four-year starter and a three-time AllDistrict selection. She has also earned All-State honors in crosscountry and track. Layken George is a senior that is expected to play third base. She is also a four-year starter. Chyenne Pippin is a senior, a four year-starter, and will play second base. Whitney Worsham rounds out the strong senior class. She is a four-year starter who will play shortstop for the Lady Pirates. She is the leadoff batter, and she’s also a member of the basketball team.

Head Coach: Ed Kelley AD: Robby Chenowith Principal: Jo Lynn Taverner 101 Pirates Loop, Dover, AR Gym - 479-331-4223 Class: 4A Conference: 4 Colors:Black and White Mascot: Pirates

the regionals,” says Kelley. “I always tell them that if we get our foot in the door, we’ll always have a chance. We just have to go game by game. We have the experience with all the girls we’re returning. One thing we’re lacking is depth. There are still some positions that need to be filled.” mentioned earlier, this is an experienced team. And that experience will be something the Lady Pirates rely on in 2012. “Our best overall attribute is our experience. This group will be hard to rattle. They’ve played a lot of innings; most of these girls play year round. There won’t be a situation that they haven’t seen,” says Kelley.

The 2012 schedule will be a tough one for the Lady Pirates. Each game will be a battle, but there are still some special games for Coach Kelley. “There won’t be any easy games, that’s for sure. But we’d really like to beat Pottsville. Our girls play on summer teams with a bunch of their girls, and that one means something to us. Also, we’d like to give Dardanelle a good game. They put us out in the District Tournament last year, and we definitely have Laken Beavers and Alivia Eckart both contributed as freshmen. a rivalry going with them,” says Kelley. This year their roles are expected to increase as they go into their sophomore years. The Dover Lady Pirates look to build off an experienced group of seniors and find success in 2012. They open the season on With all the experience coming back, the Lady Pirates are February 28th, against Jessieville at Lovelady Park in Dover, expecting a strong season in 2012. “We’d like to get back to Arkansas.

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ATHLETE SPOTLIGHT A glimpse at some of the best spring sport athletes from around the River Valley

Eric

TURNER

The Worker

Eric Turner is going into his senior baseball season with the Russellville Cyclones. Eric also plays basketball, where he was presented the “Offensive Player of the Year Award” as only a sophomore. His position is shooting guard. In baseball, Turner plays third base and was named “The Most Improved Player for 2011.” This is an impressive résumé for any high school athlete, but this type of success takes work, and Eric knows about hard work. When asked what his single best attribute was, Eric responded by saying, “Work ethic. I try to work hard everyday and constantly improve.” This type of mentality has allowed Eric to garner the type of success that he has seen throughout his career.

in college. From the beginning he taught me how to play the right way.” Eric has high team goals set for 2012. “We want to win state. I’m not that big into personal goals, I just want our guys to win state. My goal is just to do whatever I can to help our team win a title,” says Eric. Eric has one special memory from his career as a Cyclone. “Last year we were playing in a tournament at Catholic, and the score was 2-2 going into the 7th inning. There were runners on first and second. I hit a base hit that drove in the winning run. That was a really special memory,” says Eric.

Eric and his family moved from Illinois to Arkansas when he was Eric Turner is the definition of a team player. Come support him younger. His Dad introduced him to sports at a young age. “My and the Russellville Cyclone baseball team in 2012 as they look Dad was a really big influence on me,” says Eric. “He got me to win a state title. involved and taught me the right way to play. He played baseball www.arsports.net

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David

CORTES

The Complete Package

David Cortes eats, sleeps, and breathes soccer. He has played soccer as long as he can remember, and it has paid off. Going into his senior year, David has accumulated a long list of awards and accolades as a Clarksville Panther soccer star. He’s been an AllState selection in both 2010 and 2011. He was selected to the AllArkansas Soccer team, and last year he was the Gatorade Player of the Year runner up. Needless to say, David is a success story, but there is more to this young man than his sports career. David is an all around good person. He is the complete package.

player and person. I try to get better everyday,” says David.

David has set the bar high for 2012, and rightly so. “My main goal is for our team to be state champions. I would also like to be named the Gatorade Player or the Year, since I was so close last year. And I just want to make sure that I’m an all around better

David Cortes truly is the complete package. There are many athletes who win games and awards, but David is more than that. He is an amazing athlete and a good person. Look for David and the Clarksville Panthers to succeed in 2012.

David’s biggest soccer influence growing up has been Lionel Messi, and the two players are comparable in both their success and their humble nature. “I’ve always liked him because he’s just incredible to watch, and he’s very thankful for how he got to where he is, and the people that got him there,” says David.

David has signed a scholarship to play collegiate soccer at the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville. The decision came after Last year, the Clarksville Panthers soccer season didn’t turn out David received other offers, but he wanted to stay close to home quite as well as they would have wanted. “We had the most talented so he could be around his family. team that I’ve ever been a part of, but it kind of fell through. We weren’t as successful as we wanted to be last year,” says Cortes. “It’s very nice to be recognized for this, but I wouldn’t be anything “But we are really using that to push us this year. We want to be without my teammates, my coaches, my family, and God. I can’t express how thankful I am,” says David. state champions.”

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Corey

SCHEIDE

The All Around Athlete

Corey Scheide is a senior at Dover High School where he plays provided, and it gives me a little more insight in to what my father football and baseball. He is also a member of the high school does for a living,” says Corey. fishing team. To round out the 2011 year, Corey led the Dover Pirate Football Corey is the first basemen and the clean up hitter for the Dover team with 111 tackles. Corey played linebacker, offensive guard, Pirates’ baseball team.  As a junior, he led the Pirates with a .374 and kicker. Corey was named All Conference for the 2011 football batting average. He tied another player for most home runs and season, and he was also named to the K.A.R.V. Football Dream earned the 2011 Ted Williams hitting award. He also helped the Team. Pirates clinch the 4-4A Conference Championship and garnered an All Conference selection.  Corey is now preparing for his final season with the Dover Pirates’ baseball team.  As one of four seniors this year, he hopes to lead Also in 2011, Corey earned the Angler of the Year Title with the his team to the playoffs once again.  He knows he will have to Dover Youth Fishing Team, which was composed of 85 student step up and be a leader for a young team, but he feels the young anglers.  The club held 5 Dover Youth Fishing tournaments talent is good. Corey is looking forward to a great conclusion for throughout 2011, and Corey also fished in three majors last his senior year. year.  “I  am thankful for the opportunities that the club has

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Courtney

JOHNSON The Team Player

The Dardanelle Sand Lizards began a soccer program only two years ago. As a team, they’ve had their struggles. Seasons have been tough, but that is to be expected with such a young organization. Nevertheless, one player in particular has been able to stand out.

a captain system and she would like to be named team captain. “One of my goals for this year is to lead this team. I would like to be a captain. Also, I’d like to make All-State for my third year,” says Johnson.

With graduation coming in May, Johnson has some plans already in place for her future. “I don’t think I’ll be playing any more soccer, at least not on the collegiate level,” says Johnson. “I plan on going to Arkansas Tech, and they don’t have a girls soccer program. But I will definitely play intramural soccer. And if things go really well this season, and I get some looks from other “Last year was tough,” Johnson says. “We’re building from that schools, I would consider playing somewhere.” year.” Johnson plans on studying Psychology in college, in hopes of one Johnson is truly a team player. This year the team has implemented day being a psychologist. Courtney Johnson is going into her senior year and is a two-time All-State selection. What makes this accomplishment even more impressive is the fact that these two selections came during her team’s first two years of competition.

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Megan

HALE

The Leader

Megan Hale is an integral part of the Russellville Cyclone Softball swept North Little Rock in a double header and that really provided team. Each year this group has gotten better and better, and Megan a confidence booster for all of us. It’ll be something good to build off of for this year.” is a large reason for the success that they have seen. Megan is going into her senior season. She garnered All Conference selections in both her sophomore and junior campaigns. She was awarded All State after junior year. Megan was one of the select junior girls that were voted on by coaches and invited to the Arkansas High School Fast Pitch Association Junior Classic. This is an invitational tournament where only juniors compete.

2012 should be a big year for Megan, and she has her standards set high. “I am a senior, and I want to be a leader for my teammates and also a good role model. Of course I’d love to make All State again, but what I’m really interested in is a State Championship,” says Megan.

There’s a couple of games that really stand out to Megan. “My sophomore year we were playing Bentonville and we were big underdogs. The game started, and before we knew it we were down 8-1. But we came back and won 14-9. That was a great memory. We still talk about it,” says Megan. “And last year we

Whatever Megan does with her life, she will be successful, that can be seen from the amazing work ethic and the accomplishments she’s already achieved. “I am really looking forward to my senior season. In the end, I am just so blessed to play for such a great coach and have the best teammates in the world,” says Megan.

Megan doesn’t plan on pursuing a collegiate career in softball. But Megan doesn’t look at softball as work. She truly enjoys every she has other plans. “I want to study to become an occupational aspect of what she does. “I guess I’m different,” says Megan, “I therapist. I think I’ll probably go to Arkansas Tech, and then really enjoy practicing. I like anything that I can do with my team. transfer to UCA so I can get in their occupational therapy school,” says Megan. We hang out a lot off the field as well.”

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Sarah

Prochazka

The Striker

Sarah Prochazka is a basketball and soccer player for the Russellville Cyclones. She is the striker for the Lady Cyclones soccer team and she’s been named offensive MVP for the 2009, 2010, and 2011 seasons. She was named to the All-Conference team in 2011. Needless to say, Sarah has had a very successful career during her time as a Cyclone.

conference. We have a really great senior class. This is our year to win, so we just need to do our best and get to the championship game,” says Sarah.

Personally, Sarah has some goals set as well. “I am the striker for our team, which means my team relies on me to score a lot of goals. I rely on them to get me the ball and play really solid Sarah is very grateful for the support she has received over the defense, so my goal is to score a lot of goals so that I can help years. “My parents have influenced me the most throughout the them out as much as I can,” says Sarah. years. They’ve always kept me involved, and they are always encouraging me to do my best, no matter what,” says Sarah. Sarah is going into her senior season with the Cyclones, and she is an asset to both the soccer and basketball teams. Come out and Sarah has high hopes for the Cyclones and the 2012 season. “We support Sarah and the Cyclones as they look to make a run at the were really close to winning the state title last year. So this year, 2012 state soccer title. our goal is to win it. We just have to work hard and do well in

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When Charlie Goodman took over as head coach for the Russellville Cyclones track team six years ago, he had big shoes to fill. Don Carnahan had been the long time coach for the track team. Carnahan had established a winning tradition with the track program, and Coach Charlie Goodman was with him every step of the way. Charlie Goodman has been a coach at Russellville, Arkansas for thirty-eight years. He started off at the middle school teaching sixth grade science and coaching just about all the athletics the middle school had to offer. He spent eight years at the middle school, fourteen years at the junior high, and has now been coaching at the high school level for sixteen years. Goodman has been a long-term assistant coach. His duties have included football,

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cross-county, track, and everything in between. He’s been a part of two state titles as a player, two conference championships as an Arkansas Tech football player, played for a national title as a Wonderboy, and has garnered four state titles with the Russellville track team as an assistant coach. But in 2011, with the Cyclones winning the state track meet, he won his first title as a head coach, and that is something special. It’s something to remember. Russellville hadn’t won a track state championship since 2002. Going into this season there were many questions. One of these questions was in regard to who would be participating on the track team. “There’s always a battle for players during spring sports. There’s just so many things going on,” says Goodman. “We actually had to go out and recruit. High school sports have become so specialized these days, it’s hard to get players, even in the offseason.” But Coach Goodman had a great supporting staff of coaches, and they proved to be

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helpful even during the recruiting process. One of Goodman’s state track meet. assistant coaches is his son, Ben Goodman. “Going into the meet, we knew that Lake Hamilton and El Dorado “Ben knows a lot about the fundamentals. He does so much for us would be very solid teams. Lake Hamilton had won the title for I can’t even really begin to give him enough credit,” says Charlie the last three years. I really have a lot of respect for that program, Goodman. Coach Ben Goodman had a large part in the recruiting and I’d like for us to get to the same level as them over the next process for the 2011 season. “I went out recruiting around the other few years,” say Charlie Goodman. sports and told the players that we would win a ring if they came out and participated in track. It was great that I got to fulfill that With all the speculation going into the state meet, the title was far from a guarantee. But once it began, the Cyclones never missed statement, because we did win the ring,” says Ben Goodman. a step. Many competitors outshined their previous showings and But things weren’t so clear-cut for most of the season. Once recorded times, lengths, and distances that were truly spectacular. all the players were in place, there was definitely potential, but “My favorite memory came from our jumpers in the state meet,” no one knew exactly where the season would go. During their says Ben Goodman. “We knew El Dorado was supposed to have a very good jumping team, but our guys regular season, the Cyclones didn’t win beat them. They really made it a goal a single track meet. But a large part of that they wanted to win that battle, and that was due to the fact that they were they did. I was proud of that moment.” only participating in 7A meets, and the Charlie Goodman also had a similar Cyclones were a 6A team. “No one memory from the state meet. “I can really got concerned during those meets. remember Brad Barnes throwing the Everyone stayed committed, and we discus,” Charlie says. “He had some trusted in the talent that we had,” says really bad throws to start off, and just Ben Goodman. barely qualified at eighth place. Then all of the sudden he comes out and “We placed second in the Indoor State throws a big one, 142 feet, and wins the Track Meet, competing only against 7A whole thing. It was something to watch. teams. Once that happened, we knew we I won’t forget that.” could be really good. We just had to wait for our time,” says Charlie Goodman. There were many such performances in And their time did come. The Cyclones the 2011 state meet. Elijah Knight ran a won their conference track meet by 155 sub two-minute 800-meter race, and he points, something that is almost unheard was only a junior. Jessie Duvall had great of in track meets. Next up was the 6A

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“I just loved seeing the excitement in their faces”

Charlie Goodman times in the two-mile, mile, and 800 meter races. Braden Henderson helped out in the pole vault, and is expected to vault over sixteen feet for 2012. Chris Washington and Gabe Limon were a part of the jumpers that helped upset El Dorado. Ricky Collins did his part by throwing over fifty feet in the shot put. And Ben Jordan helped out in both the pole vault and the 800-meter race.

Once the meet was over, the Cyclones had won their first state track title since 2002, and they had won it convincingly. “The response from our team after we had won was something special. It was amazing. You’d have thought they won the Super Bowl. I just loved seeing the excitement in their faces,” says Charlie Goodman. As stated earlier, Charlie Goodman has been a long time assistant coach on a variety of Russellville sports teams. The 2011 state title was a benchmark for him as he earned his first-ever state championship while being a head coach. “Dad’s helped a lot throughout the years, and has never really gotten a lot of recognition,” says Ben Goodman. “It was really special to win this one together, and for me to get to serve him, because he’s been a servant for so long.” The 2012 season looks promising for the Cyclones. “It can happen if we do the right things, and of course, we’ve got to have the right people. We’ll have to stay focused, but there’s definitely a possibility of a repeat,” says Charlie Goodman. Both Charlie and Ben Goodman will look for another state championship in 2012, and they would love for you to come out and watch as they look to defend the title. The Cyclone Relays are April 6th. The Conference meet will be held in Russellville and is on April 27th. Also the middle school and junior high meets will be held on April 9th and 10th.

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2012 Spring Sports  

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