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16-year Arkansas head football coaching veteran George Shelton has been tabbed as the next head coach of the Little Rock Central Tigers football program after previous stops at Augusta, Dollarway, Watson Chapel, and most recently Dumas where Shelton led the Bobcats to a 9-4 record in his only season as head coach.

Shelton spoke with ArkansasVarsity.com about the decision to take the job at Little Rock Central.

“I am very honored by the opportunity to assume the position,” said Shelton. “Obviously they have been historically one of the winningest programs in Arkansas, along with Pine Bluff High. They both have over 800 wins. Then you have the legendary Little Rock Central campus and all of the nostalgia that is associated with that program.”

Shelton said he looked at the job previously, but pulled his name from the hat due to some personal issues.

“I first looked at this job 10 years ago when Coach Bernie Cox stepped down,” said Shelton. “I got approached about there being some interest in me looking at it, but due to some personal family reasons I decided to take my name out of it.”

While Shelton is respectful and appreciative of the past he also notes that it is his job to worry about the future of the program.

“Reality is that right now the program has been down for a few years and we are trying to get things going in a positive direction,” said Shelton.

Shelton added that one big focus will be to attract talent within the Little Rock school district to the Central program.

“There has always been a lot of talent in the Little Rock School District, and that trend continues today,” said Shelton. “When you look around the landscape there are guys who are high level recruits playing all over the area. We have to be able to attract those guys into our program.”

“I was looking through some boxes the other day and saw photos of guys who played at Central who signed with the Razorbacks and other major universities,” Shelton continued. “We are capable of being able to produce high level college athletes in our program. We are going to have to get a handle on maintaining kids at Central. It looks like it is the Wild Wild West in terms of kids being able to go to other schools, so we have to be able to make Central attractive.”

Shelton touched on what he thinks can help make Central attractive to high school athletes.

“Certainly winning is the big factor, but facilities are a big thing as well,” Shelton said. “We have to maintain the kids who are in Central’s orbit from the junior highs. That is a big issue. I understand that recruiting is very prevalent in our junior highs where they have the opportunity to play for multiple schools coming out of junior high, so we are going to have to make it to where Central is a choice as well.”

Shelton also spoke about the philosophy he will use on the football field when it comes to his offensive strategy.

“I just want to do whatever we are able to do,” said Shelton. “Running the football and throwing the football are the two ways you can articulate moving the football down the field, and there are many ways you can do that. If you want to talk about schemes and formations I’m not particularly locked in to any one thing. I just thank God that I have been exposed to various variety of things and ways to use your athletes. We want to continue to do that.”

“We want to be able to do what our personnel on hand are able to do, and that will put us in a position to win a football game,” said Shelton. “Those are the things you have to do. You can’t go out there and be someone that you’re not. You have to use the personnel that you have and figure out the way to best put that together.”

Shelton has only been around his athletes for three days, so his first order of business is to figure out the talent abilities of the team he has on hand, and working towards a plan for spring football.

“I’ve only been around these guys for three days, so I don’t really know the talent level that we have right now,” said Shelton. “We are going to try to get us about two weeks of spring football. We will alternate one day in pads and one day in shorts. Right now the main thing is to install our basic terminology, alignments, and those type of things we can are going to focus on.”

Shelton would like to get more done if possible, but staffing is an issue for him right now.

“Staffing is going to be the issue because right now there is only myself and Coach Clifton Ealy that are available for working with the kids on a day to day basis,” said Shelton. “Lack of staffing is a big issue right now. We are in the process of trying to turn the corner on that right now, but anyone who might be a potential new hire will not be able to be on board until after the school year is over.”

Once Shelton has his staff in place he intends to have the Tigers participate in numerous 7-on-7 and team camps over the summer to help them prepare for the 2021 season.

“For us it isn’t going to be anything different from what we have ever done,” said Shelton. “We have always done 7-on-7 and teams camps going all the way back to my time at Augusta when we ran two tight ends and never threw the ball. We will try to participate in all of the 7-on-7 opportunities that we can. We have got to play that weather you never throw the ball or you throw it 80 times a game you have to play 7-on-7. We are looking forward to that. We are going to have to see who can throw a football and go from there.”

Shelton finished by saying he knows there are a lot of expectations for the Tiger football program.

“This is a place that has played championship football,” said Shelton. “You look and you see the banners everywhere. This is not a place where you just come to cross your legs and say we will get them next year. This is a place with a strong tradition of winning and a high expectation to win. The kids have a commitment to football, and that is the kind of environment I grew up in.”

“The expectations are to do well,” Shelton continued. “I think my personal goals and desires and the programs goals and desires are both on the same page. We match up well on that. I’m willing to invest whatever it takes in terms of the amount of work, effort, support, and investments to put a winning product on the field.”

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