LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — If a football field has memories, what do they look like? Does it remember the wins and losses? The struggle and the sacrifice?
Little Rock McClellan head football coach, Maurice Moody, hopes it does.
"We talk about it from time to time," he said. "We're playing for something more than just us."
Moody has spent seven seasons rebuilding the Crimson Lions at Little Rock McClellan, building a specific brand of football that proceeds the program throughout the state.
"Everybody knows when they play McClellan, it’s going to be physical," said Moody. "We’re coming downhill at you. Fly around on defense. And we’re going to play extremely hard."
Four of his last seven seasons have seen the success that rivals the McClellan teams of the early 1990s. Three 10-win seasons, two state championship game appearances. 38 total wins.
The revival of the program is something that former linebacker Tavaris Patrick, now a resource officer with the Little Rock School District, is proud to see.
"One thing I actually told Coach Moody," said Patrick, "is if he started winning, they'll come. We'll get the players we need to continue to win. Especially if he can get the kids to buy into it." He added, "he did and they have. It's been awesome."
But after the 2019 season, the Crimson Lions will be just a memory. The high school is being re-purposed and its students moved to the new Southwest Little Rock High School along with those students from J.A. Fair.
"It’s been difficult to swallow," said Moody, who said he is unsure of his job status at the end of the year. "To find out that McClellan would be closing down and we’d be combining with Fair, it was kind of tough."
But there is hope there too. "It was kind of bittersweet," he said. "Sweet in the fact that these kids deserve a new school, they deserve to play on a turf field. And they’re going to get an opportunity to do away with the stigma that surrounds McClellan."
The Crimson Lions want to win this year more than ever. For themselves. For their school. And for all the others that came before them.
"We said last year that we were going to dedicate this football season to every football player that's ever laced it up for McClellan," Moody said. "We just hope that at the end of the day, that our hands are raised as number one instead of number two.”
Patrick played on the team that made it to the state championship game in 1994. He would love to see the Crimson Lions return there one more time.
"It would be a great way to honor us," he said. "But if they can go out there and give it their all, leave it all on the field, that’s the best way to honor the ’94 team. Because we gave it our all. In practice and in games. We fought for each other on the field."
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