After announcing they would be playing eight-man football, Parkers Chapel coach Elliot Jacobs and his staff had just a few weeks to prepare for the season, but despite having to make that adjustment late in the summer, the format is one Jacobs is pleased with.
“We really liked it,” Jacobs said. “I kind of wished that we played on the field that the other schools do with the 80-yard length. I like that it gives smaller schools a chance to compete and those kids and those schools that like football that hadn’t been able to play in the past, they’re now getting the opportunity to play some games. That’s what our kids wanted. They just wanted to play a season. They didn’t care who or if it was 8- or 11-man. It didn’t matter to them. They just wanted to play football, so I think it helps the state.”
Because the Trojans moved up to the 3A ranks and eight-man football isn’t officially sanctioned by the Arkansas Activities Association at that classification, PC was ineligible for the postseason, and despite not posting any wins, Jacobs saw plenty of progress from his team against a brutal schedule.
“We definitely got better each week,” Jacobs said. “We played a real tough schedule. Most of the teams that we played are still in the playoffs, and we did it with kids that are good kids, but we were not very athletic.
“Again, our kids didn’t care about that. All they wanted to do was have the opportunity to compete, and they were given that. They competed every week for us. We’re proud of them for that. We thank them for keeping our program alive.
“Hopefully, we can build on the momentum we had there at the end of the year, bringing up some good freshmen, maybe get some kids back and hopefully have a little bit better season next year.”
Jacobs is already looking forward to next year because of a class of sophomores-to-be that have a chance to make a big impact in 2023.
“We should have 18 freshmen moving up as sophomores,” Jacobs said. “A lot of them have an opportunity to play next year early. There’s a lot of athletic kids in that grade. They just have to do a good job in the weight room.
“When we get them this summer, make sure they’re competing all summer with us and then have a good fall camp. We’re excited about the possibility of the future over the next three or four years.”
As the Trojans begin their offseason, Jacobs said getting work done in the weight room is a top priority.
“Get stronger and faster,” Jacobs said of his goals he wants accomplished before spring practice. “Our high school is built a little differently, so all of our kids lift together regardless of what sport they play, so they’re on different regiments.
“Our junior high kids that are just football only, they’re lifting four days a week and we’re trying to get them as strong as possible.
“As we get closer to spring, we’ll start putting in more speed and agility-type stuff there to make sure we’re as fast as possible. We saw this year if we want to compete, we’ve got to get faster and we’ve got to get stronger.”
When asked if the Trojans would stay in the eight-man ranks next year, Jacobs said a final decision hasn’t been made and that one wouldn’t be made until next year.
“We should have a decision in early spring,” Jacobs said. “I’m about 75% sure that we’re going to join the big class eight-man league, so that will allow our kids that if we have a good enough season, to compete for that state championship.
“We only get to play 10 games. What they do is you get done with your regular season in Week 8, and then Week 9 and Week 10 are those playoffs. I’m about 75 % sure they’re going to let us in that.
“We’ll do that for a year and then when the next cycle rolls around, we should be able to come back to 11-man. I’m about 75% sure that’s the route we’re going to go.”
The Trojans would be joining an eight-team conference that has Mountain View and Fountain Lake among others in the league.
“I think there’s eight teams and we would be the ninth, but what’s going to change that is if another team that’s playing 11 right now drops down to 8 and they’re 3A or above, it will change all that, but if it doesn’t happen, we’ll be in that conference.”
Jacobs said he will be speaking with the league’s coaches next year.
“I’ve got a Zoom meeting with all of their coaches in the spring to talk about logistics and how that’s going to work,” Jacobs said. “I’m pretty certain that it’s going to work out for us.”
Jacobs added that joining the league will give the team goals to strive for.
“It’s going to be tough competition,” Jacobs said. “You’re playing schools that are 3A, 4A, I think there are maybe one or two 5A schools, but at the end of the day, if we have a good enough year, our kids get to compete for something.
“This year, we just competed for pride. Next year, we’ve goals in mind that we can set.”