Crosby Tuck made his first official appearance as the head coach of the Van Buren Pointers, new offensive coordinator Jon Brooks got to meet the team for the first time, and new defensive coordinator Moe Henry wrapped up his first week with the team.
That was all at Thursday’s green-and-white spring scrimmage.
‘It’s been an easy transition because of the players buying in and the coaching staff doing a good job of what they’ve done through the transition,” Tuck said. “We’re still moving along with the process. The majority of our staff is still here, and it’s a room full of great coaches that have made this an easy transition.”
Henry comes to Van Buren from Shiloh Christian while Brooks was the offensive coordinator at Hamburg last year.
Henry takes the place of Kenneth Chick, who left to join Casey Dick at Fayetteville as the defensive coordinator.
Henry and Tuck were on the staff together at Shiloh Christian.
“The thing I love about coach Henry is he has the ability to really maximize someone else’s ability,” Tuck said. “The way he coaches kids and relates to kids, he gets a lot out of them.”
Henry also was an assistant at Springdale from 2002 through 2011, including the legendary Springdale state championship team of 2005 under Gus Malzahn.
“I’m excited about joining back up with Coach Tuck and getting to coach with him again, and being a part of calling the defense,” said Henry, who played for Bill Laird at Nashville and played in the Arkansas Coaches Association All-Star game in 1996.
The coaching staffs divided up and had a draft to select the two teams for the Spring Scrimmage.
Henry particularly liked the format from his defensive perspective.
“I like the way the staff divided up into equal talent,” Henry said. “They drafted so that allowed for there to be a high level of competition. I got to the point that I was rooting for both defenses. To go out and compete from both sides, the kids were competing with each other. Whenever they can compete against each other, they can go compete with each other. That was something that I was excited to see.”
Thursday was the first time for Brooks to meet the players and see what he will be working with on the offense.
“It’s the first time I got to meet any of the kids, it was good,” Brooks said. “I see a lot of good pieces out there. We’ve got a lot of pieces, we’ll try to get it together and move forward.”
Van Buren worked quarterbacks Gary Phillips, a junior who logged a lot of varsity experience on the offense last year at quarterback and receiver, along with sophomore Connor Brady and senior Konrad Walters.
“With Connor being a sophomore and his first varsity snaps in front of people, he was very impressive,” Tuck said. “Outside of maybe two plays that stand out, Gary looked excellent. He played really well. I know what his goal is and the bar he sets for himself, he’s not going to be okay with two or three plays where he did make a bad decision. He’ll be all over this film and studying up. The majority of the snaps, Gary played at a very high level.”
Running back Brayden Rivas caught what amounted to the game-winning touchdown in Thursday’s scrimmage.
“He’s going to be a big piece for us,” Tuck said. “He does a lot for us all over the field from running back, pass protection and out of the backfield as a receiver. That final touchdown, that was a route where he came from the backfield and made a great catch.”
Jude Bartholomew was Van Buren’s leading receiver last year and returns after catching 51 passes for 821 yards and six scores. Hayden Roark, a speedster, also returns. Mauri Newton has also played at receiver along with Isaac Nason, who moved back to Van Buren from Charleston.
“I like what they whole receiver group is doing right now,” Tuck said.
Defensively, Baylor Shook returned an interception for a touchdown in the scrimmage.
Cha’Raun Page, R.J. Riley, Miles Kuykendall, Easton Mongold and Doug Giron up front were also standouts during the scrimmage and throughout the spring.
“That’s probably our first five, but we even have more depth behind that,” Tuck said. “They had an excellent spring. What our D-line looks like really stands out right now. We’ve got some guys that are going to be big-time for us. That’s a group that I’m confident about in what their performance is going to be like week in and week out.”
Thursday’s scrimmage left some things to iron out for the Pointers.
“Passing game, we did some good things, but we had some lapses that were pretty glaring at times whether it was a wrong route, a dropped ball, the wrong read, or pass protection breaking down,” Tuck said. “Each of those things showed up in some critical times of the game on both sides.”
Thursday’s scrimmage also provided some things to build off of for the Pointers.
“We’ve got a lot of stuff to teach off of,” Tuck said. “The level of competitiveness and the energy they were putting in out there, and how hard they were playing, each team was really wanting to win. That was awesome. That was probably my favorite thing I saw this spring.”
Van Buren will compete in the Airedale Classic 7-on-7 Tournament on June 15. The Pointers will host a team camp and go to Bentonville West for a team camp.
The Pointers will travel to Farmington for a pre-season scrimmage on Aug. 22 before opening the season at Siloam Springs on Aug. 30. Van Buren plays its home opener against Alma the next week and opens 7A-West play at home against Rogers on Sept. 27.