The White Hall Bulldogs have had a run of senior quarterbacks take the helm, and this season the job belongs to Josh Looney. Looney served as the backup last season, and he has the trust of Bulldogs Head Coach Mike Vaughn.
Junior Gage Hollowell and sophomore Charlie King are competing for the backup job.
“We’ve got a senior at quarterback, Josh Looney,” Vaughn said. “He was the back up to Ollie last year. We have high hopes for him, and Josh has a great arm. All he needs is game experience, and we believe with that he has a chance to be really good. Gage Hollowell and Charlie King have both played quarterback, but Josh will be the guy, and we’re enthusiastic about it.”
Just like at quarterback, the starting running back role has already been taken. Junior Dante Buckner has worked his way into being the Bulldogs’ top running back, and he’ll take on the majority of the carries. Last season, in a reserve role, Buckner rushed 54 times for 443 yards and seven touchdowns. A transfer from the state of Ohio, senior Jared Foxworth, along with junior Eric Turner, will back up Buckner.
“As far as running back goes, Dante, it’s his job,” Vaughn said. “We have some other guys who we’re going to look at. Jared Foxworth moved in here from Ohio, and Eric Turner has gotten bigger and stronger over the offseason. We have a chance to be OK at running back.”
Senior wide receiver Baylor Owen had his season cut short due to an injury after playing in four games last fall. Owen has returned, and Vaughn said he leads a group of receivers who all have grown up in the system.
“We think we have eight or nine that we can play at receiver,” Vaughn said. “We think all of them have some speed. They’ve been in the system now since junior high, and when they get to be seniors, they’re supposed to know what to do. They’re there, and you can tell that from our 7 on 7’s.”
Bulldogs Offensive Line Coach Tony Miller has helped answer questions the coaches had about that unit in the spring. Vaughn said Miller has worked hard to form a solid group of starters and some depth behind them.
“Our offensive line has been a pleasant surprise for us so far,” Vaughn said. “We were scared to death all spring and during the summer. For the most part, they’ve showed up at 5:30 a.m. four or five days a week, so they’re way ahead of what we hoped they would be. Some of them need game experience and how they come along with that will be key. We have one junior and two seniors back. Kyle Lambert is back from last year, Tyler Aaron will be our senior, and Jaxon Sanders has grown tremendously.”
On defense, the Bulldogs were still in search of a front seven at the start of fall practice. They don’t have much depth on the inside, whether on offense or defense, so an injury could really set them back.
“Hopefully we don’t get anybody hurt, because our main problem going in on both sides of the ball is depth on the line,” Vaughn said. “On the defensive line, we’re still hunting and pecking for people. I don’t know what we’re going to do about linebacker just yet. We have some, but we’re still looking.”
The Bulldogs have experience in the secondary in hopes that they can be a safety blanket for the defense when needed. Junior DeShawn Buckner, and senior Tre’Don Marks, a Watson Chapel transfer, man the corner back positions. Owen will move from corner back to safety, and he’ll likely be alongside junior Daniel Collins.
“Secondary-wise, we have experience,” Vaughn said.
Seniors have played a big part in White Hall’s football program over the years. Last season 15 seniors contributed, but this year Vaughn said the team will not have nearly as many.
“We have about eight seniors that played last year to come out this year,” Vaughn said. “It’s one of those things that will work itself out. The ones we have are tremendous leaders.”
White Hall opens up their season against Dumas at 7 p.m. on Aug. 31 in Dumas.
7 p.m., Aug. 31: at Dumas
7 p.m.. Sept. 7: Crossett
7 p.m., Sept. 14: at Sheridan
7 p.m., Sept. 21: at Maumelle
7 p.m., Sept. 28: at Little Rock Fair
7 p.m., Oct. 5: Beebe
7 p.m., Oct. 12: Watson Chapel
7 p.m., Oct. 19: Little Rock Christian
7 p.m., Oct. 26: at Parkview (Little Rock)
7 p.m., Nov. 2: Pulaski Academy