In the midst of a casual conversation at his desk, Michael Meador's phone begins ringing.

Meador, the new football coach at Hackett, excuses himself to take the call.

Turns out it was one of his players, letting Meador know that he is running late and won't be on time for the Hornets' workout, which was about to get started.

Several minutes later, Meador's phone rings again. It's another one of his players, offering the coach a similar explanation.

On both occasions, Meador wasn't dismayed over the fact his players wouldn't be showing up on time. He was actually glad that both players called to let him know.

For Meador, it's all about the accountability, something he really learned at his previous job, serving as an assistant for two seasons at south Arkansas powerhouse Rison.

"(One) thing I learned from (Rison) coach (Clay) Totty was trying to keep the guys accountable," Meador said. "When they call, they've got to call. If they're going to miss or be late, they've got to call.

"We're trying to get them ready for when they go out in the real world. ... If they have to miss work or something, they've got to be held accountable because you've got to let your boss know, 'Hey, I'm not going to be there, I'm sick or something,' and if you don't (call), you're going to be fired. That's one of the things we do and I learned that from coach Totty and I really, really like that because it makes us understand that the kids are held accountable for their actions and it gives them some responsibility so they'll learn."

It's one of the many lessons Meador is willing to impart at his first head coaching job.

He has a strong pedigree, growing up in football-crazy Charleston. The expectations there were so high, Meador didn't order a class ring, preferring instead to obtain a state championship ring, which he did as a member of the Tigers' 2008 title squad.

Meador learned under then-Charleston coach Doug Loughridge (now Alma's coach) and his offensive coordinator, Greg Kendrick, who eventually became the Tigers' coach before leaving this off-season to reunite with Loughridge at Alma.

"They were really important," Meador said. "You know we started playing football ultimately because it was fun, and I know that's one thing that sometimes gets lost in all the game plans and all that stuff, is understanding it's got to be fun.

"Because when it stops being fun, that's when you see a decline a lot of times, but they made it fun and exciting and they impacted my life, so that was a big thing in my life."

Then there was the two seasons Meador spent at Rison, learning under Totty, one of the more successful coaches in the modern era of Arkansas high school football.

"Another thing coach Totty taught me is you're going to go through adversity, so you've got to get the kids to keep fighting and we're trying to make sure the kids can keep fighting no matter what happens, and that applies to life, too," Meador said. "Football's a big teacher of life, and that's what this game's so beautiful about; that's why I love coaching it because it's such a life teacher.

"Literally every day, every game, you're going to go through some adversity and how you respond to it, that's what life is, and I think these kids are starting to understand that."

Even after taking the Hackett job, Meador wanted to continue to learn under experienced, established coaches.

He has one excellent resource in the man Meador replaced, Lonnie Hester, who is now an administrator at the school. Hester won 38 games in five seasons as the Hornets' coach, including the first back-to-back 10-win seasons in school history.

Meador also didn't hesitate to make the short drive eastward on Highway 10 to see someone else who is considered a giant in the coaching profession.

"I've visited with (Greenwood) coach (Rick) Jones and his door has been straight open. ... I've just been trying to talk to as many coaches that have a great tradition," Meador said. "I've been visiting coaches and pick up one thing from all these coaches and try to apply it here."

It may be a very tough challenge from the get-go for Meador at Hackett. The Hornets return four starters on both sides of the ball, have just three seniors on the roster and were picked to finish last in 2A-4 by Hooten's Arkansas Football magazine.

But Meador is more than ready for the task which awaits him. He's prepared for this ultimate opportunity, the chance to lead his own program.

"Our goals are we're trying to get over that hump," Meador said. "We've been real close; we've been to the second round of the playoffs and we're trying to continue that tradition of exceeding and that's obviously my goals.

"I understand it's not a one-year thing, it's continuing to do that and it takes a while to develop that and to actually get over that hump, but that's what we're trying to do here and there's a lot of hard work to do that."