LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Pulaski Academy jumped to Class 6A last year, leaving many questions about how the move would affect the school's dominant run on the football field.
The Bruins quickly put any doubts to rest, finishing 12-1 overall and defeating Greenwood 42-35 at War Memorial Stadium to capture another state championship.
“Last year ended better than anything we could have hoped for,” Pulaski Academy senior wide receiver John Mark Charette said. "[We] just have to build off that, learn from our mistakes and do it again."
That's also the main goal for Anthony Lucas, who is entering his third year as head coach.
“Winning it twice, getting ready to compete for another," Lucas said. "I just added more pressure, but we’re excited. New PA, new me, new everything.”
And Lucas isn't exaggerating with the word "new." Pulaski Academy will field its youngest in years, especially on offense.
“John Mark Charette is our only returning starter at wide receiver," Lucas said. "I feel good about him."
Charette is looking to follow up a season in which he posted 1,330 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“It’s kind of wild that we’re the guys who have to step up and lead everybody," Charette said. "It’s kind of hitting me now."
Along with Charette, senior running back Kenny Jordan is also returning. However, the Bruins will be without all-state quarterback Kel Busby as he's set to miss his senior season with an arm injury.
Lucas said the team is taking the next-man-up approach.
“Brandon Cobb is going to step in and do a great job,” Lucas said.
For the last decade, Pulaski Academy has answered every challenge. This year, its small senior class is tasked with igniting the younger guys and showing them what Bruin football is all about.
“Just kind of building the relationships with the younger guys," Pulaski Academy safety Patton Wicker said. "We were close with so many of the seniors last year. We know to pass it down."
Lucas takes everything as an exciting challenge to overcome.
“We’re young, but these guys have been in the program since 5th or 6th grade, so they understand it," Lucas said. "[I'm] excited to see new guys stepping into positions and help us get back to winning another state championship.”
The Bruins begin their 2023 campaign on the road at Joe T. Robinson on Aug. 25.