West Memphis Blue Devils jump back into form with scrimmage
West Memphis prepares for its earliest season opener in history
WM School District The countdown clock to the high school football season has officially started, and if you're a West Memphis Blue Devil fan that clock is ticking inordinately faster. The Blue Devils play their earliest season-opener ever on Aug. 21 at War Memorial Stadium against Little Rock Central in the Buzz Bowl, sponsored by Little Rock sports talk radio station 103.7 The Buzz.
For the fans it'll be a bigger adjustment than their football team.
Head coach Billy Elmore's squad closed out its spring with practice No. 17, an intrasquad scrimmage at Hamilton-Shultz Field on Tuesday, which means it's closing out nothing at all.
There will be 7-on-7 tournaments and team camps this summer as there have been the last several seasons.
Arkansas Activities Association rules allow teams to get in three games in four weeks, installing a Week Zero, which is where Central and West Memphis fit in.
'Originally what I wanted to do was play Week Zero, One and Two and then have an off week on Week Three before we get into conference,' Elmore explained. 'But we'll be one of the showcase games to start the high school football season. 103.7 The Buzz offered us a chance to play in their Kickoff Classic. I've played in it before when I was at Stuttgart. It's a pretty good deal for the kids and the schools. They get to play in historic War Memorial Stadium against historic Little Rock Central.'
Other Week Zero games around the state find Sheridan at Mountain Home on Aug. 23, and on Aug. 24 Arkadelphia visits Sylvan Hills, El Dorado entertains Conway, Morrilton plays at Searcy and on Aug. 25 Bryant and Benton hook up at War Memorial.
'As far as what (the early start) changes for us…it doesn't really change much in terms of preparation,' said Elmore. 'I like where we're at. We've had a great spring. Seventeen practices is the longest spring I've ever had coaching, and it 'That's really early for a (preseason) scrimmage, but it is what it is,' Elmore stated. '(Batesville) is one of the better 5A teams and it will serve as a good indicator for our team.'
Coming off a spectacular 10-2 season in 2017, Elmore said he thinks his defensive line is the area that sticks out so far, with his linebacking corps following close behind.
'I feel like we've got some guys with some ability there,' he said.
The Blue Devils will also be stacked at receiver where seniors Marcus Whitaker, Mason Kearney and Jimmy Phillips return after starting in 2017.
'We're also returning three out of five on the offensive line,' Elmore said.
would bother me if I felt it was too much on the kids.
But I pointed out to Coach (Grafton) Moore that our kids just love to hang out at the fieldhouse.
They enjoy being there, they enjoy practicing and they enjoy getting better.'
Another date for fans to remember is Aug. 14 when the Blue Devils will scrimmage Batesville at Hamilton-Shultz Field.
By Billy Woods