Meridian Star

September 23, 2013

Little Bulldogs making big improvements

Tony Tsoukalas
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN — Two years have passed since the last time Clarkdale High School won a football game. It's been seven years since the Bulldogs last had a winning season. But, even as Clarkdale sits at 0-5 this season, don't expect first-year head coach Wes Roy to hang his head.

    The former Clarkdale assistant knows exactly what he got into when he took the job. He knows the process of turning around the program won't come over night. That's why he's focussed on building back the Bulldogs from the ground up.

    This season Roy has worked with members of Clarkdale Youth Football, a member of the Central Mississippi Youth Football league, providing anything the young Bulldog might need, from a well-kept practice field to hitting dummies. Roy, who has a son on the Rookie team, not only supports the league as a father — he sees it as one of the Bulldog's best rebuilding tools.

    “It's huge to get the youth involved,” Roy said. “That's the future of the program if you plan on being anywhere for any length of time. I've just tried to do everything I can to help the coaches involved and try to give them everything they need to support the kids.

    “Seeing the young kids excited about football is the main thing for me. As a high school coach, you want those younger kids growing up wanting to be Clarkdale football players. The only way to do that is to start them young and let them play.”

    Last year, in his first season as commissioner, Mark Nixon faced a tough challenge as Clarkdale lacked numbers, particularly in the Rookie level where the Bulldogs where forced to play with 17 seven-year-olds in a league designed for ages eight and nine.

    This season, despite an 0-2 start, Nixon said he has seen a dramatic improvement among second-year players at the Rookie level.

    “It's a bright future looking at this group of kids,” Nixon said. “They can really help turn our program around. Anything over time is going to help these kids. We have a good group that is coming on and learning the game. They are getting better each week.”

    Rookie level head coach Dusty Webb is also optimistic, stating his team is in position to turn some heads as the season goes on.

    “As far as talent, we have enough this year to do some good things,” Webb said.

    Roy said he is grateful for all the hard work and time each coach has put towards developing the league, stating the coaches  and Nixon have done an excellent job in preparing players for the next level.

    Last night the Rookie team lost, 18-0, to Southeast Lauderdale, while the Midget team coached by David Bonner beat Southeast 24-6.

    “The interest for football in Clarkdale is there,” Webb said. “Members of the community would like nothing more than to see Clarkdale reemerge as a football school. It's gonna start here at the younger age. If you can show them a positive development in football, that's what's  going to keep these kids together. There's no doubt in my mind, by the time these kids get into high school the program will be in good hands.”