Last year as the Waldron Jr Bulldogs stepped off the football field one last time, their final season record was locked in at 5-3. While they kept their noses to the ground and got the job done last year, this season the Jr High Bulldogs are out for redemption. With 20 ninth-graders and 16 eighth-graders, the Jr High football program is already off to a great start. And with 20 players on the 7th-grade roster, the stars just continue to align for the Jr Bulldogs. “Junior high and 7th grade still have a lot of work to do with the late start to the season,” explained head coach, Garett Lazenby. “Due to the pandemic, we are unable to do our normal practice with the restrictions in place. Even with the late start and restrictions though, the kids have shown up and worked extremely hard. You can tell they want to build on the 5-3 record from last season.”
While other programs are seeing multiple teams enter and exit their conferences this year, the Jr Bulldogs only have to endure one team shake-up in their 4A-4 division. With Subiaco leaving at the end of last season to switch over to eight-man football, the Lamar Warriors stepped up from the 3A-1 division to take their place. Remaining in the 4A-4 alongside the Bulldogs are annual challengers, Mena, Pottsville, Dover, Dardanelle, and Ozark. When asked which conference game was number one on his to-do list, Coach Lazenby responded. “That would be Ozark. They are the defending conference champs and they are always a well-coached group of kids.”
Agreeing with Lazenby’s game choice is eighth-grader Keegan Lynch. “I’m most looking forward to playing Ozark this year as well. Every year I’ve played them we have lost and last year I didn’t play against them because of an injury.” Keegan has been playing football for six years. This season he will be a starting safety along with manning the positions of back-up runningback, corner, and quarterback. “I’m really thinking we’re gonna have a good season this year considering I think we have the best receiver in our conference, Chris Lopez.”
Along with Chris Lopez, other key skills players for the Jr High team are Joseph Rogers and Logan Young. “Key linemen,” continues Lazenby, “Are William Atchley and Zaydin Jones.” The Jr Bulldogs also holds a secret weapon card in their back pocket in freshman, Kason Davis. Kason has been playing football since the 3rd grade and will be adding his talent this year to the positions of halfback on offense and defensive end. “I have high hopes for this season because I think our team has enough talent to succeed which is why I’m looking forward to every game.”
The big game of the season according to Coach Lazenby is always the first one and this year, first on the schedule for the Jr Bulldogs is Hackett on August 27th. With their first game fast approaching, the coaches continue to focus on what’s important when trying to build a successful program. And that’s building up the younger squads so that they can reap the benefits when they get up to Sr High play. “Junior high and 7th grade are extremely important because they are the building blocks for Senior high,” said Lazenby.
When asked what it is about Waldron football that inspires them to play, Lynch responded, “It’s the people really. All the cheers from the fans and the love from my teammates.” Davis says, “Football not only allows me to enjoy competing but it’s about being a team player too, no matter if we win or lose. Teamwork is the most important thing to me in Bulldog football and it allows me to represent true dedication in me, my team, and the town of Waldron.”