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Arkansas Class 7A high school football team previews: Little Rock Central coach trying to restore program's proud tradition

The Tigers were 0-10 last fall in George Shelton's debut season.

SBLive is previewing the Arkansas high school football teams from the three largest classifications. Today, we feature the Little Rock Central Tigers from the 7A-Central Conference.

By Jeff Halpern | Photo by Jimmy Jones 

LITTLE ROCK CENTRAL TIGERS

HEAD COACH

George Shelton, 0-10, second year

2021 AT A GLANCE

Overall record: 0-10

Conference record: 0-7

Playoff results: Did not qualify

KEY DEPARTURES

Multiple position star Jackson Cobbs

S D.J. Hill

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Junior QB Adrian Bing

The 5-10, 195-pound junior moves from running back. He played quarterback in Georgia and is viewed as a dual-threat quarterback by Shelton. Rushed for 140 yards as a junior.

Junior RB Pierre Duncan

The 5-8, 175-pound running back has 4.6 speed in the 40-yard dash. Had 90 yards on 53 carries as a junior.

Senior WR Trey Williams

The 5-9, 175-pound senior is recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

Junior WR Ronnie Wiliams

The 5-10, 175-pound junior was a quarterback in middle school and will also be the backup quarterback.

Junior WR Eddie Scott

Will line up in the slot. The 5-8, 165-pound junior has 4.6 speed in the 40.

Senior TE Tyrondis Britt

Returning starter, the 6-2, 260-pound senior moves from guard.

Senior FB Cameron Hood

Returning starter, the 5-10, 190-pound senior moves from tight end.

Senior RT Asa Langford

Returning starter, the 6-0, 268-pound senior is a 2-year starter.

Senior LT Cameron Lewis

Returning starter, the 6-5, 309-pound senior is a 3-year starter and is going to summer school to become eligible for the upcoming season.

Sophomore RG Collin Sproles

The 5-10, 200-pound sophomore battles for a spot on the offensive line.

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Sophomore C Torshawn Riley

The 6-0, 220-pound sophomore battles for a spot on the offensive line.

Senior DT Jashun Johnson

The 6-1 268-pound senior comes back after quitting the team last year.

Senior OL/DL Christian Jordan

The 6-1, 6-1, 268 pound senior comes back after deciding not to play last season.

Junior DE Dierian Simpson

The 6-1, 210-pound junior started as a sophomore and had nine tackles.

Senior DT David Adams

The 6-1, 225-pound senior started as a junior.

Junior ILB Marcus Johnson

The 6-0, 205-pound junior started as a sophomore and had 33 tackles.

Junior LB David Hawthorne

The 5-9, 190-pound junior had four tackles in limited duty.

Junior LB/S Christian Sanford

The 5-9, 180-pound senior is battling for playing time at two positions.

Sophomore S/WR Zay Stribling

The 5-10, 160-pound sophomore has ball-hawking skills according to Shelton along with 4.6 speed in the 40-yard dash.

Sophomore S/WR Jeremiah Lowery

The 5-9, 168-pound sophomore has 4.6 speed in the 40.

OUTLOOK

The Tigers, who are the state’s most successful program with 30 state titles are coming off a winless season. Shelton, who has coached at Warren, Pine Bluff, Augusta, Dollarway and Watson Chapel calls Central the most challenging situation he’s ever taken over in his coaching career.

He cites the lack of an indoor facility, sub-par locker room and weight room, transportation issues when getting players to and from practice and the fact that he never knows who is coming into the program from junior high until they enroll in high school.

Shelton said he experienced discord in his first year when it came to getting the players to buy in. While the Tigers went winless, he said the players maintained a good attitude. He said playing hard wasn’t an issue on the field. He said it was running into teams that had a lot more talent every Friday night. Outscored by 319 points on the season, the only loss that was close was a 6-0 loss to Little Rock Southwest.

“The most important thing is establishing relationships, and we’ve done that,” said Shelton. “If you don’t establish relationships, you’re not going to have a team. Right now, I’m excited about what we can do.”

While the Tigers are trying to reverse their fortunes, Shelton wants his team to be an established winner over time and not one that “hits the roulette wheel” when things go right.

He likes the fact he has 57 players in the program. He admits a year ago, he played some sophomores instead of upperclassmen, wanting to give the younger players a chance to develop over time.

When looking at his team, he is impressed by some of the speed he has at the skill positions, but is concerned about the lack of depth on the offensive and defensive line.

“The main thing is we want to establish a running game and be respectable doing that,” Shelton said. “We don’t want to be in a position where we are throwing the ball 60 times. On defense, we don’t want people going north and south against us. We’d like to get them going east and west so we can use our speed.”

COACH SAID

“We expect to improve off an 0-10 season. We want ourselves to have a program that we can be proud of and compete with the best teams in 7A.” George Shelton 

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