By Frank Scott
When Doug Corley takes the reins as DeWitt High School's new football coach, he'll take over a team that hasn't had a winning season since 2002 and hasn't been to the state playoffs since 2000. But he's not daunted by the challenge.
"It will take some time, but I think we can build a good football program here," Corley said last week just after accepting the job. "If everyone is patient, I think we can have a winning team here."
It's not like Corley will be trying something new. In 2000, he took over a Perryville program that had been dropped for a year, then had played another year outside Arkansas Activities Association (AAA) auspices for another season. His teams struggled at first, but, eventually, the Mustangs were regular contenders for a playoff berth and posted records of 10-3 and 9-2 in consecutive years.
Corley is a Stuttgart native, and his wife is originally from DeWitt, so he's familiar with the area. But as far as the football program is concerned, he's "coming in cold. I saw [the Dragons] work out in the off-season, but I don't know that much about the players' abilities," he said. "I'll have a lot of evaluating to do when I get there."
The details of Corley's employment still have to be worked out, including his starting date. "But I'l figure out someway to be [in DeWitt] for spring practice," he said.
Corley said he likes to start out of the Wing-T formation, the offense the Dragons used part of the last two seasons under Greg Bigham. However, "I like to mix everything up. We'll run some spread, even some single-wing," he said. "A lot of what we do will depend on what we have, what our players are capable of doing."
Despite his newness to the Dragons, Corley is familiar with some of the opponents the Dragons will face when they move to a new conference next year.
At Perryville, "we had Clinton on the schedule every year, and we scrimmaged Heber Springs the last two seasons, so I know what those teams will do," he said. "I'm not too familiar with the other teams in the conference."
And of course, he's familiar with the Dragons' nearest opponent, Stuttgart.
"As an old Ricebird, I'm going to enjoy those games, " he said. "I understand DeWitt fans haven't enjoyed those games that much in the past. Maybe we can change that."