Lake Hamilton coach says it’s important that high school football be played in 2020

Tommy Gilleran looking forward to Friday's league opener with Mountain Home.


PEARCY, Ark. – Tommy Gilleran’s fourth season at Lake Hamilton could be highly successful, but still not show up in the win-lost column.

The Wolves finished 9-3 in 2019, and Gilleran has reason to be excited with eight offensive starters back.

“We’re going to have a hard time this year,” said Gilleran. “Every game is going to be a tough one to win. Greenwood and Benton are in our conference (6A West). Parkview has three Division I kids this year, and Van Buren has moved down from 7A.

“Lake Hamilton has been growing a little bit the past two years, and we’ve got 85 kids out for football in the middle of a pandemic. The virus makes me nervous. We may lose some good kids for two weeks through the season. We’ve already had some kids get sick. This is going to be a different year from what I’ve ever seen.”

Lake Hamilton mentor optimistic

Gilleran recognizes the coronavirus is here and not going away soon. The veteran coach believes it’s important that high school football is played in Arkansas this fall.

“We expect some kids will get sick,” he said. “It’s part of it, and we know it’s going to happen. What I’ve seen so far is it’s not one kid getting it from another kid, but from adult to a kid. The kids are getting it from their parents and other ways.

“We need to have a football season. We’ve got to continue to live and move forward. Wearing masks and social distancing, while doing the best we can on the football field is the task at hand. It seems like it’s the older generation that’s been affected by the deaths.”

So back to football, and the Wolves’ 2020 season.

Gilleran can’t remember the Wolves having an NFL player. That’s saying something for someone who grew up in Pearcy, and lives today in the same house.

This doesn’t mean Lake Hamilton doesn’t have outstanding individual talent this year. All-stater Layne Warrick (6-1, 175) is back for his third season as the Wolves’ starting quarterback. Coaches are hoping Warrick runs and passes for more than 1,000 yards from Lake Hamilton’s Wing-T.

COVID-19 cases in Arkansas up

Wolves have individual talent

Junior left tackle Chase Jessup (6-4, 275) has already caught the eyes of several DI colleges, including Vanderbilt, Kansas and Central Arkansas. Gilleran suspects other teammates could be playing DII football after leaving home.

Owen Miller (5-11, 190) ran for nearly 2,000 yards and 23 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2019. Fullback Tevin Woodley (5-9, 215) was a blocker last season, while rushing for more than 1,000 yards.

“We have all our skill kids back,” said Gilleran. “We lost our center and two guards.”

Some of the candidates in the offensive line include Zach Roberts, Bradley Rieman, Obed Liera, Dylan Horton, Ryan Roling and Jack Tedder. Gavin Stewart, Jeffery Cable and Ken Dong are among the center prospects.

“Defensively, we lost two linebackers, a safety, a corner, and a defensive end,” said Gilleran. ”

Seniors Zachary Haygood, Baxter Dickson and Dawson Poindexter will be leaders on the defense up front.

The prospects at linebacker includes Gavin Robbins, Juan Maldonado, Chris Gutierrez and Jace Joiner. Junior Marion Conrad is the team’s best cover man in the secondary.

Gilleran is optimistic, the key is to avoid multiple players being lost to injuries, or the coronavirus.