It would be fair to say that the cupboard was hardly bare when Arcentae Broome walked onto the scene to coach at Maplewood High.
The ex-McGavock head coach and Stratford assistant will have two 1,000-yard rushers on board when practice begins Aug. 2. And he’s relishing the chance to continue the winning football tradition at Maplewood, piloted by Ralph Thompson who resigned Feb. 22 after eight seasons.
“When we had our first team meeting, I could tell that there was an eagerness among the players, something like a ‘yes, we have a leader, someone we can call coach, someone who is in charge,’” Broome said, while vacationing last week in Pigeon Forge.
Broome guided McGavock to its first playoff appearance in four years last fall before the Raiders lost to Blackman in the 6A first round. The past spring, almost out of the blue, he was forced out after eight seasons with the Raiders. But he’s ready for a new challenge.
“At spring practice, we had about 40 to 45 come out,” Broome, 34, said. “We had a lot of questions, some from them and some from me as well.
“Last year, they got to the state quarterfinals. This year, with the talent we have returning, I think we can go further.”
Maplewood has several offensive weapons returning, two in particular.
“We have two 1,000-yard rushers returning in (junior) LaDarius Vanlier and (senior) Stanley Hagan,” Broome said.
When Hagan was injured in the opener, Vanlier, as a sophomore, stepped in and rushed for 229 yards against a good MBA defense, a game Maplewood lost 31-28. Hagan later returned and provided another fist of a 1-2 punch.
“We are counting heavily on those two,” Broome said. “At the same time, we’re going to diversify our offense a little, open up our passing game with a standout player like Randall Smith returning at quarterback. We’re going to go with what gives us the best chance for a state title. We also have a top receiver like DeWayne Smith returning and also receiver Darryl Clack and lineman Jonas Swanson back.
“Three years ago, Maplewood reached the (Class 4A) state finals, and I think we have the type of players who can get us back there.”
When the team met during the transition, Broome brought Thompson into the room to give the team a bit of reassurance.
“I think it was good that I was there that first day, telling the team that they were in a good situation with Arcentae as their coach, he’s a good man,” Thompson, who took his final five teams at Maplewood to the playoffs, including the ’07 finals, said. “I tried to give him some background on some of the players, some of the home lives they have, some of their backgrounds, some of the things there for him to have full knowledge of the situation.
“Arcentae is a good guy, and he will continue to steer the program in the right direction.”
Incidentally, Thompson said he was looking to continue coaching somewhere in the Nashville area.
• Lazas 2nd at National Track: Recent Brentwood High graduate Kevin Lazas, who won the state Class AAA decathlon titles his final two years in high school, placed second in the decathlon at the U.S. Junior Outdoor track and field Championships last week in Des Moines, Iowa.
The Arkansas signee won the shot, pole vault and javelin and finished with a 7,291 total, just nine points behind winner Nieman Wise. Both qualified for the World Junior Championships in Moncton, Canada July 19-25.
• Gardner gets new job: Former Austin Peay and Arkansas head coach Susie Gardner has been named the head women’s basketball coach at Mercer University. Gardner, a former star at Mt. Juliet High, had been an assistant at Florida the past three seasons.