By Kyle Sutherland
SBLive is previewing the Arkansas high school football teams from the three largest classifications. Today, we feature the Jacksonville Titans from the 6A-East Conference.
Eric Allen, first season
2021 AT A GLANCE
Overall Record: 1-8
Conference Record: 1-5, sixth in 5A Central
Playoffs: Did not qualify
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Senior QB/WR Taquon Sanders - Sanders is one you think of as a slash-type player as he can make plays at multiple positions, and you can expect him to be the primary signal caller for the Titans in 2022.
Senior OL/LB Maurice Beard-Gaines - Beard-Gaines came to Arkansas from Chicago prior to his junior season and will be relied upon up front offensively but could also see plenty of time for the Titans on defense in 2022.
Senior OL Calvon Turner - Turner worked his way into a starting role on the offensive line as a junior.
Senior OL/DT Jeremiah Williams - Williams is the best two-way player in the trenches for the Titans, along with the strongest squatting over 500 pound and benching over 300.
Sophomore DL Stacy Mitchell - Mitchell projects as a starter at one of the defensive end spots.
Senior DB Brayden Alexander - It looked like Alexander would contribute more on offense prior to 2021, but he found a spot on defense and is the sole returning starter in the secondary.
A new era has begun in Jacksonville with Eric Allen after two seasons under Maurice Moody who resigned in December to accept the head-coaching position at Watson Chapel. This is Allen’s first head-coaching job following his tenure as an assistant at Little Rock Christian helping the Warriors win a state championship in 2018.
It was a roller-coaster off season for the Titans beginning with Moody’s departure followed by a brief coaching hire that did not work out before the program solidified their guy with Allen.
Other than the COVID-ridden 2020, Jacksonville has not made the playoffs since 2017 and has not enjoyed a winning season since 2012. Things will not get any easier for the Titans moving up to Class 6A, and they will rely on a bevy of skill players to help turn the team around.
Veterans Beard-Gaines, Turner, and Williams bring extremely valuable leadership to a team that is in need of it and all are expected to lead in the trenches where it all starts on both sides.
Leading that charge is Sanders, who can play any of the skill positions on either side of the ball. Fellow senior Alexander will be one of the key leaders on the defensive side.
“[It was an] up-and-down offseason. They have turned the page and are learning how to develop a winner’s mindset.” -Eric Allen