Huntsville Leans On Seniors For Leadership

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Coach: Randy Barnhill, 2nd year at Huntsville (1st as head coach)
2015 Record: 4-6
Returning Offensive Starters: 5
Returning Defensive Starters: 5
Offense: Option
Defense: 4-3
Key Players: SR Alfredo Benavidez RB/CB, SR Brandon Smith OL/DL


HUNTSVILLE (KFSM)--The leadership at Huntsville has been stable for the past five seasons under the guidance of Tommy Tice but the second winningest coach in Arkansas state history stepped down earlier this spring after 42 seasons of head coaching.

First year head coach Randy Barnhill steps in to a challenging role in 2016. The Eagles have not won more than five games in a season sine 2004, Tice's second year at the helm.

"You don’t try to mimic someone like Coach Tice. You do your own thing and you build off what he did for us, and you try and put your own spice to it," Barnhill said.

After one year as offensive coordinator, Barnhill gets to implement his own system that includes one major shift.

"Defensively, we're going from a 3-4 look to a 4-3 look to give us more security up front," Barnhill said. Senior Brandon Smith anchors both the offensive and defensive lines for the Eagles. But Smith is one of the only sure pieces to the puzzle.

The quarterback situation won't be decided until after next week's scrimmage, as Barnhill said there are numerous guys competing for the job. Offensively, Jaron Evans is the team's top returning player. Evans carried the ball over 100 times last season and gained nearly 700 yards in just eight games. Senior's Alfredo Benavidez and J.D. Vaughn complete an experienced backfield.

2009 was the last time the Eagles qualified for the postseason, but the seniors are hopeful they can flourish in their final year. Both Benavidez and Smith echoed their coach's message. "Leadership is a big role we need this year. So as seniors, we are striving to be better leaders, better teammates and a better friend to everybody overall," Smith said.

Huntsville hosts 3A opponent Green Forest on September 2nd to start the season.