TEXARKANA, Ark. – Arkansas high head football coach Trey Outlaw wasn’t prowling the high school aisles looking for players for his burgeoning football team.
Well, on reflection, he might have.
“Yep, I’m out there walking the hallways trying to lock up some great players,” Outlaw joked outside his office at Razorback Field House.
In reality, the wannabe soccer players come to train Outlaw. Several athletes who haven’t played football in several years are looking to jump on the Arkansas High triumph like the old days.
“I’ve been playing football since my second season,” junior Cameron Sanders said. “I broke my wrist this year and haven’t played football since.”
Sanders said his wrist has healed and that he wants to join his friends and pals on the Razorback football team, which was 4-6 at the top in Outlaw’s first year.
“I think Coach Outlaw has inspired a lot of my friends to come back and play football and I want to do the same,” Sanders said. “I want to be part of the team that turns things around. I want to be a part of Arkansas High’s winning tradition of football.”
Quavo Ross, another junior, agrees.
“My friends who played football last season asked me to come out and play football for Razorback again,” he said. “I haven’t played football since ninth grade but I’m looking forward to getting out and playing my senior year.
“It will be good to play with all my friends again because we all believe in and love each other.”
Makel Watson is also a prospective senior for next fall’s Arkansas High.
“I played soccer in the ninth grade, but I played basketball every year,” Watson said. “Basketball is my best sport, but I also really like soccer. I plan to play soccer and basketball next season.”
Outlaw said numerous athletes would ask him to rejoin the football team.
“We had about 47-50 players last year and now in the off-season we’ve got 114,” Outlaw said with a smile. “We’re getting much better participation and it shows in our other sports like basketball, tennis, track and field. We don’t just play football here and one of my responsibilities as sporting director is to make sure we participate in all sports just as much, boys and girls.”
Watson, a 6-foot-180-pounder, says he’s hoping to play tight end or some sort of receiver in the Hog squad next year.
“My favorite game was tight end because it allows me to hit defense first,” said Watson. “I’m not afraid of physical hits because it’s all part of the game.”
Watson also said he doesn’t mind the long exercises and lifting weights to gain strength.
“Coach Outlaw runs a disciplined program and everyone understands that,” said Watson. “He knows how to make us better players and a stronger football team. The lads really have his back.”
Sanders says he’s about 5 to 11 or 6 feet tall and weighs between 145 and 150 pounds. His speed makes him a target for wide receivers.
Nathan Wall is returning as quarterback for Arkansas High, and Sanders knows Wall very well.
“He’s throwing great passes, whether they’re short outs or long bombs,” Sanders said. “It will be my job to open up for him because he has a very strong arm.”
Ross, a 5-8 1/2, 135-pounder, is also a wide receiver hoping to return to the gridiron.
“The Razorbacks missed the playoffs by a game last year and we’re hoping to make the playoffs and get another deep run — maybe even a state championship,” Ross said. “We believe in Coach Outlaw and the entire student body stands behind him because he has such a winning attitude. He’s an inspirational coach, that’s for sure.”
The trophy cabinets are filled with state championship trophies the Razorbacks have won over the years in every sport, not just football.
“I bet we can find another spot for a state championship trophy,” Outlaw said.