|Bison senior running back Devon Kendrick carries the ball during a drill Wednesday. (Photos by Mark Buffalo)|
By Mark Buffalo
CARLISLE — The Carlisle Bison have been working hard during the first week and a half of football practice, according to first-year coach Mark Uhiren.
Uhiren, a 1977 graduate of Carlisle High School, comes to Carlisle after a long stint as head coach at Marion. He got out of coaching for a few years and was a Dean of Students in Marion.
“Right now, we’re trying to be like everybody else … we’re just trying to make sure they survive the heat,” Uhiren said. “We’re trying to do it the best way we can but still get work out of them. It’s hard. Nobody has shut it down yet.”
The Bison currently has 22 players on their roster.
Uhiren previously coached as an assistant under Don Campbell at Wynne. He was head coach at Hoxie and Lonoke, where he was promoted from assistant under Billy Dawson to head coach.
Uhiren said coming to Carlisle was something “you always dream about in the back of your mind.”
“It was just something you liked when you were here, and boy, it was something I definitely liked when I was here,” he said. “It was important to me. It was something that directed me in my life’s ambition. I was wanting to be a coach. I was a coach for a lot of reasons. A lot of them started here at Carlisle. A lot of them started out there on that football field [Fred C. Hardke Field] with my coaches and believing in what they did and seeing how they handled things. I think that got me spurred in the right direction.”
Uhiren played for former CHS coach and teacher Joe Gasaway in the 11th and 12th grades. Uhiren was a junior on the Bison’s playoff team in 1976, the last time they played in the playoffs before James Clayton became head coach in 1989.
After getting out of coaching and going into administration at Marion, Uhiren said the allure of the Bison head job got him back into coaching.
“I told my wife [Cindy] that I wasn’t going to be back into it unless it was the right spot,” he said. “She told me I should have stayed in it.
“Everything works out for the best anyway. I think it gave me some time to back up and look at it a little bit. As you get older, you see things differently.”
Uhiren said he almost didn’t apply for the Carlisle job this time.
“If my health stays good, I’m looking at six or seven more years of teaching,” said Uhiren, who is starting his 35th year of teaching. “Ideally, I’d like to coach as long as I can like Coach Campbell.
“Realistically, I know it’s a different game these days. The demands are extreme. And coming home, it’s a different set of demands. You acquire the junior high and the senior high and upkeep of the fields and teach class too.”
The Bison open the 2016 season against the Lonoke Jackrabbits on Sept. 2 at James B. Abraham Stadium in Lonoke. The two teams have not played in 26 years. The last time they met, the Bison beat the Jackrabbits 16-6 in 1990.
Carlisle will scrimmage the Bald Knob Bulldogs on Aug. 22 at Bald Knob.
Uhiren will be assisted this year by Lonnie Roberson, Mike King, Phillip Bernhardt and Logan Prince. King is the husband of new Lonoke High School principal Sandi King.
|New Bison coach Mark Uhiren talks to his offensive linemen.|