High school football coach Taggart Moore and junior high football coach Tyler Shaw spoke to the Lonoke Chamber of Commerce during its lunch meeting on Aug. 3 at the Depot.

According Shaw, the junior high team is excited about the upcoming season. He said they average about 75 players this year and had to buy new shoulder pads this year because the increase in players.

“We are really fortunate to have that many kids that are interest and excited, that want to be here,” Shaw said.

Shaw said it speaks a lot to the staff in the district, as many players are looking forward to playing for coach Taggart.

Shaw said players have been lifting weights and running plays three days a week this summer. He said they also attended some team camps this year.

The junior high team will kick off their season against Beebe. Games start at 7 p.m.

Coach Taggart said the staff has been working to revamp the weight room program this year. He said the players are on meal plans and supplements, depending on their needs to gain or loose weight. He said the team has already increase its roster from last years 30 players to 52 players this year.

“That is amazing number for 4-A ball,” Taggart said. “That’s not even close to the other 4-A numbers, so we are really excited about that.”

In January, Taggart said the staff took a new approach to the sport by get into the classrooms and talk with students who didn’t play last year. He said this alone encourages 13 students to rejoin the team. According to Taggart, there are 20 seniors playing this year.

“There are not a lot of 4-A that can play kids on one side of the football,” Taggart said. “And we’ve only got one or two players playing both side, which is really going to help getting kids out there and giving full effort the whole time.”

According to Taggart, the high school team attended 7 camps this summer and have worked out four to five times per week. He said Lonoke is the first school in the state to implement the new insite flex helmets, which not only flexes with hits taken by players but monitors the type of hits and where their hits were taken. He said this allows parents to not only feel safe about their child playing, but allows coaches to see when unnecessary hits are taken and adjust drills to prevent them.

“We’re going to try and make it as safe as possible,” Taggart said. “We’re going to try to take our head out of the game, and do drills and things to do that.”

Taggart said this year a player will be selected as the “player of the game”, sponsored by Farm Bureau. A player each week will be given a special football labeled with the game, date and team logo, he said.

“We’re just trying to get kids out, get kids back in ball,” Taggart said. “I knew growing up only 45 minutes from here, the tradition here was so strong. It was a football town, and we felt like we’ve lost that the last few years and want to bring that back. Getting back into the community. That’s where we are going to try to start. Is it going to be all fixed this year, no. It’s going to be a building processes. We realize that. We’re just trying to do the right things and take the right steps to get kids interested in the game of football again.”

Taggart said the football schedules are not out yet, but will soon be available at the Bank of England and Chamber of Commerce building. The high school team will kick off the season with two jamboree games, followed by a game at Carlisle on week one. Taggart encouraged everyone to attend the 7 p.m. game on Sept. 1 at Carlisle.

“We want everyone out there,” Taggart said. “They brought a huge crowd last year. So please come out and support these guys. That is the super bowl to these guys. They’ve been talking about it all summer long. Their friends are from over there, their family is from over there. Things like that. It’s just right down the road, so we really want a big showing over there and pack those stands. Anytime you can come out and support the kids, please do. You might not know it, but they do look up in those stands and if it’s empty one night, they’re going to be down. So we want you to come out and watch it and really support the kids.”

The next regular scheduled Lonoke Chamber meeting will be at noon Sept 7 at the depot.