DOVER — When new Pirates head coach Reed Mendoza was a volunteer assistant coach for the Dardanelle Sand Lizards, he always thought Dover was a place he could build a football tradition.
“Having some experience in the league when I was in Dardanelle, I saw Dover as the place that not only had some good kids but also had the type of kids that would fit me well,” Mendoza said. “And they have some talent to boot. I know the team was down some last year, but I felt like it’d be a good fit for me.”
The Dover School Board hired Mendoza after former head coach Greg Smith resigned to take another coaching job. Mendoza said he’s been pleased with the state of the program since his arrival.
“In the past few days, we’ve really started to get after it,” Mendoza said. “The previous coach and the assistants in place did a great job of getting these guys going in the summer program. When I stepped in they were working already and ready to get to work. That’s made the beginning of this transition really easy so far.”
Mendoza wants continuity within the Pirates football program. He wants the seventh-grade players to be learning things that will build into the junior high program, which will build into the senior high program.
“Every step along the way we want to be preparing them to be successful at the senior high level,” Mendoza said. “More importantly we want to be creating good young men who do the right things off and on the field.”
From a football standpoint, Mendoza wants the same hard-nosed blue-collar Dover team they’ve always been, but he wants to do it from the spread with a no-huddle offense.
“That doesn’t mean we will always be in a hurry,” he said. “Sometimes we’ll go fast and sometimes we’ll go slow. We’ll just do it with no huddle.”
Mendoza said it also doesn’t mean they’ll be a pass-heavy offense.
“In a perfect world, we’ll be 50 percent run, 50 percent throw,” he said. “We’ll just run it from the spread. We will use a tight end and a halfback at times. I want to be balanced. If we can run it on you, then we are going to run it on you.”
Mendoza was the offensive coordinator at Lincoln before accepting the job at Dover. Pirates athletic director Wes McCrotty said Mendoza was a perfect fit.
“We are very excited to welcome coach Mendoza and his wife Kate to our Dover athletic family,” McCrotty said. “Through the interviewing process, we were impressed with his work ethic, his energy, passion and knowledge of the game of football that he would bring into our program. With his energy, we believe he will relate to our kids and instill in them his vision for our program.
Mendoza has already begun working with the players. McCrotty said it’s going well.
“He is a person who is going to give his best day in and day out, and that’s what our kids deserve,” McCrotty said. “We are excited about the future of our program and the direction we are headed.”