The Bulldogs prepare to re-enter the football league at 11

DECATUR — With the return to 11-a-side football and the 2022 season fast approaching, head football coach Jake Denzer was eager to put his junior high and high school teams on the grill for a little football refresher.

The Bulldogs took to the training ground on June 14 for a late-night, two-hour light workout. The only equipment the team was allowed to wear for practice was their helmets. But it was special training for the two young teams. It was an opportunity to gain height and get used to wearing these brand new helmets.

For the past few years, the Bulldogs have been using old headgear. So, at the end of the 2021 season, while Jake Denzer and his team were packing helmets to send out for reconditioning, they found numerous faulty helmet devices, rendering most of them unusable. Luckily for the football program, athletic director Jacque Smith’s request for new helmets was approved by the school board, and within eight weeks of the order, the Bulldogs had a brand new helmet.

A new problem arises for Denzer, what to do with the old helmets. He found a brilliant solution. Donate old helmets to local businesses, sponsors and alumni to thank them for their continued support of the Bulldog football program.

Eventually, 10 middle and high school players showed up for the practice session which consisted of fundamental running and receiving drills for offense and off-line drills for defense. Due to the offseason, no tackles or hard contacts were allowed during these sessions per rules established by the Arkansas Activities Association.

Denzer currently has a team consisting of assistant coach Donald Thomas, volunteer coach Waylon Harrington, and a volunteer coach who takes care of setups and managed equipment for the teams.

On Thursday morning, Denzer took his players to team camp in Berryville. For some of the senior players, it was an opportunity to reunite with former Bulldog football coach Grant Hudson who is an assistant coach for the Berryville Bobcats with his father Brian Hudson who also coached at Decatur in 1998-99. Hudson led the football program at Decatur in 2019-20.

Currently, both teams are still engaged in light off-season training sessions no longer than two hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Pre-season training begins August 2.

The first contest of the season for the junior high team is a benefit game scheduled for August 25 with Gentry at Bulldog Stadium in Decatur.

The first Decatur Bulldog college game is also a benefit contest with Episcopal on August 26, starting at 7 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium in Decatur.

Westside Eagle Observer/MIKE ECKELS Jake Denzer (left) watches some of his players perform one of his drills on the pitch as a new group begin their drill during the schools football teams off-season training session Decatur Bulldog secondaries at Bulldog Stadium on June 14. The Bulldogs will continue their light workouts until Aug. 2, when preseason training begins.


Westside Eagle Observer/MIKE ECKELS Yefferson Cardona (left) catches a high throw from coach Jake Denzer during junior and senior offseason football practice June 14 at the practice field behind Bulldog Stadium in Decatur. Both Bulldog teams participated in non-contact drills until the start of preseason training sessions on August 2.

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