Tommy Shoemaker will make his return to Harding Academy next week when he takes his Central Arkansas Christian Mustangs to Searcy for a preseason scrimmage against his former team.
The Mustangs will also see Beebe in the controlled scrimmage.
"It’s been long enough that it won’t be as big a deal," said Shoemaker, in his sixth season on Mustang Mountain after a successful run atop the Harding Academy program.
His defensive coordinator there, Roddy Mote, replaced him. The Wildcats won the Class 3A state championship last year.
"I didn’t coach any of those kids," Shoemaker said. "I know a bunch of them because I know their parents, but they don’t know me as a coach. We’ve got our own schools now."
He said he "basically begged" Mote to invite the Mustangs to the scrimmage. Previously, they’d gone to Heber Springs, and he said he was looking for a closer trip.
He was not clear Sunday night of the details of the scrimmage, but he said he thought it would include a set number of plays for each team — not a complete half, as they’ve played in the past.
"You’re apparently on and off, so you get rested but not so much you get cold," he said. "It’s pretty rapid fire."
The Wildcats run a version of the Spread offense, a scheme the Mustangs know well. Shoemaker said all 10 of their regular-season opponents run something similar.
Beebe’s Badgers, though, run the Dead-T.
"We don’t see the Dead-T," Shoemaker said. "We had a team camp with Pottsville this summer, so we got to see some reps against it. We at least have seen it, but it’s a lot different when you’re getting out there in a scrimmage. It’ll be good for us. There’s always the possibility you might see that in the playoffs."
He said in looking for a benefit game, several factors were in play.
"You’d like to see somebody that will give you a good test, and somebody like Beebe lets us see somebody more run-oriented," he said. "We need to see a team that does that. I think the Academy will give us a good look on defense and give us a look at all the things you have to face in the Spread.
Like all high school players in the state, the Mustangs enjoyed last week’s cooler temperatures.
"Especially compared to the week before when it was 110-degree heat index, they had a little more bounce," Shoemaker said. "That part makes it a little more productive, but you worry about if you get in a game and the heat returns, but everybody will be dealing with the same thing."
School started at Mustang Mountain last week, and he said getting into a routine was a positive.
"Our seniors have done a nice job leading," he said. "We’ve got to keep working and improving. We started adding a few wrinkles and got most of it in. Now we’re trying to make sure we go out and execute."