Photographs by JIMMY JONES
Coach Tommy Shoemaker
Thursday, August 2, 2018
Central Arkansas Christian is returning to the Spread in hopes of returning to its winning ways.
The Mustangs ditched the Spread in favor of the Wing T in 2017 in an attempt to take advantage of their personnel. The result was a 1-9 finish.
Mustangs at a glance
COACH; Tommy Shoemaker
2017 RECORD 1-9, 1-6
KEY RETURNERS WR/DB Seth Crews (Sr., 5-7, 150), DB Krishaun Watson (Sr., 5-7, 150), WR Blake Smith (Sr., 5-8, 155), RB/DB Gentry Miller (Jr., 6-0, 170), QB Eli Garrison (Jr., 6-0, 165), OL/DL William Word (Sr., 5-8, 185, Sr.), OL Austin Cook (Jr., 5-10, 160), OL/DL Brandon Bishop (Jr., 6-1, 220), DL Jackson Gay (Jr., 5-10, 160), WR/DB Eli Jenkins (Jr., 6-0, 150)
Aug. 31;at Mayflower
Sept 7;Baptist Prep
Sept. 21;at Riverview*
Oct. 5;Heber Springs*
Oct. 12;at SS Batesville*
Oct. 26;at Bald Knob*
Coach Tommy Shoemaker admitted going to the Wing T was a mistake, but he said no offensive formation could have made up for the Mustangs' defensive woes.
"You try to put your kids in the best position to be successful," said Shoemaker, whose team won a conference championship in 2015 and won a combined 19 games in the two seasons prior to 2017. "It was just one of those things that didn't work out for us. But a big part of that was we weren't as good on defense. It doesn't matter what offense you're running when you're giving up as many points as we were."
CAC allowed 40 or more points in six games in 2017. The Mustangs' opponents averaged 38.3 points a game. With a more experienced roster this fall, CAC hopes of improvement are enhanced.
"One of our big points of emphasis is not giving up big plays," Shoemaker said. "We tweaked a little bit of what we're doing on the defensive side. We're probably going to be a little more aggressive. We'll bring more pressure.
"Plus, we feel like we have a lot more guys with experience, especially in the secondary. Hopefully, that will help cut down on some of those big plays."
Eli Garrison became the Mustangs' starting quarterback midway through last season, and Shoemaker said he has confidence in the junior who "has had a really good summer."
Shoemaker said junior Gentry Miller is the "best overall athlete" on the team and was last season's leading receiver.
"He just makes plays, so we're going to try to get the ball to him," Shoemaker said.
Seniors Seth Crews and Krishaun Watson also will be counted on at receiver and are "big-play threats."
Two-way senior lineman William Word has earned his teammates' respect.
"He's just one of those kids who has a great work ethic, is tough and is one of those guys that our guys know they can count on," Shoemaker said.
The Mustangs are solid in the kicking game. Garrison was one of the 2A-4 Conference's better punters last season. Junior Eli Jenkins will handle kickoff and field-goal kicking duties.
"We think [Jenkins] will be even better this year," Shoemaker said. "He's gotten bigger, stronger. He's had another year in the weight room. I think he's going to be a weapon for us."
Watson and Crews will be the team's top return men.
CAC opens the season at Mayflower on Aug. 31
"We just have to get some confidence," Shoemaker said. "I think if we can get off to a good start and play well, I think that will be a big part of it. Hopefully we can feed off some early success. I think what we're doing is really well-tailored to our kids, so if we can get going early I think it will build on itself."
Sports on 08/02/2018
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