|The 2014 Carlisle Bison Football Team|
By Mark Buffalo
Even though Carlisle has its third coach in three seasons, the team's goal remains the same — to win a state championship.
Defensive coordinator Jack Keith was hired as head coach in June, replacing Brandon Barbaree, who eventually became an administrator and assistant coach at Lonoke. Two years ago, Scott Waymire resigned to become coach at Class 4A Trumann after a seven-year run as Bison head coach.
"Our main goal is always going to be to win a state championship," Keith said. "If you are not shooting to be the best, you can't ever get to be the best."
Keith said Hazen, Des Arc and McCrory will be tough in the 2A-6 conference this season.
"With us in the mix, I'd say that's the Top 4," he said. "We don't want to just get into the playoffs. We want to win the conference and make a run at it."
The Bison will continue to run the Double Wing formation — something they've ran since Waymire came to Carlisle in 2006.
Senior Chase Brazeal returns at quarterback. He took over for Austin Reed in Week 9 a year ago after Reed suffered a torn ACL in a knee late in the regular season.
"He has a good handle on the offense," Keith said. "We've been able to add a few wrinkles with him."
Seniors Jacob Cagle and Clinton Hampton are the wingbacks. "They've been running real hard," Keith said.
Senior Thomas McCallie returns as the starting fullback.
"He has a real good understanding of the offense," Keith said. "He does a good job of blocking and runs hard."
Senior Dylan Brazeal will anchor the offensive line at tackle, Keith said.
Senior Keyshawn Allen will also play tackle.
"We will need him to step up and be a presence on the line," Keith said.
Senior Miles Cunningham returns at center. "He's going to give you everything he's got," Keith said.
Junior Clay Parker is set to start at tight end. "He's a tough kid," the coach said. "He's smart and a hard worker."
Guards include senior Colton Isbell, who missed the end of the season because of a concussion.
"We're just not getting him back to full speed," Keith said.
Two sophomores, Zack Means and Brian Henderson, have been working at guard as well.
Senior Nick Schafer will play receiver.
"He's got good hands and can give us some mismatches at times," Keith said.
Keith said sophomore Zack Caviness will also play receiver.
The Bison run the 4-4-3 on defense this season.
"We try to do things we know how to do well," Keith said. "You can over-think yourself sometimes."
Dylan Brazeal and Allen will be the starting defensive tackles. Cunningham and sophomore Mason Carter will rotate at that position, Keith said.
"A lot of kids are going to have to play both ways," Keith said. "Our backups have to be just as good as our ones. We have to have a revolving door to get some guys a breather when we can."
McCallie, Isbell and senior Bradley Elder will see time at defensive end.
"Our defensive line is probably going to be our strength on defense," Keith said. "We're essentially replacing all four linebackers."
Schafer and Hampton will play outside linebacker. Backing them up will be sophomores Devon Kendrick and Tyler Sanders.
"I feel confident with all four of them being on the field at any time," Keith said.
Inside linebackers will be Parker and Means.
Senior Cole Sheets and Chase Brazeal will play cornerbacks. Cagle and junior Brynden Weems will play safety.
The Bison open the season Friday night at home against England in the "Battle of the Beasts" at Fred C. Hardke Field. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.