Cyclones Hire New Coach
Russellville Cyclones’ new head football coach David Wheeler said he’s always hoped to return to Russellville after leaving at the end of the 2016 state championship football season.
“Russellville is a home away from home for me,” he said. “I not only coached at Russellville High School, I was defensive coordinator at Arkansas Tech University and had a really good run there. I like Russellville. I like the people here, the community and the school treated me well when I was here.
“This was something I was really hoping to get a chance to do.”
Wheeler was hired by the Russellville School Board of Education with a unanimous vote on the recommendation of athletic director Johnny Johnson in a called meeting on Wednesday.
Wheeler was the defensive coordinator at Rogers in 2020, where his team finished with a 6-3 record.
Wheeler was on staff at Arkansas Tech University between 2003-06. During that time, the Wonder Boys reached the second round of the 2004 NCAA Division II playoffs and won 10 games for the fourth time in program history.
Wheeler was brought to the Cyclones by former head coach Jeff Holt in 2014 and kept on by former head coach Billy Dawson in 2015.
In 2016, the Cyclones went 12-1 and won the Class 6A state championship.
But what will it take to bring Russellville back to dominance? Wheeler said it will start with an attitude shift.
“The first building block of success is always getting the right mentality,” he said. “That’s attacking offseason correctly, attacking every day, on and off the field, correctly. We have to win in the classroom, win in the weight room and do things the right way.
“That’s the way we built it in 2015 and 2016, and a lot of the things we did then still apply today. A lot of the principals we used will remain the same. We want to try and instill character and the culture we need to be a winning program.”
In 2016, Wheeler’s defense recorded 16 interceptions, recovered nine fumbles, 26 sacks, 78 hurries and 186 tackles for loss.
But Wheeler wouldn’t say whether he’d call the defense for the Cyclones or not.
“Right now it’ll depend on who we hire,” he said. “We have some opportunity to hire some people. Obviously, I’m well-prepared to call the defensive, but I’ve called offenses before too. If I need to, I will. I’ve done both sides of the ball, so we’ll just have to see where we are with the staff. We’ll take the next month to evaluate and look at what we need.”
Russellville’s junior high team finished the season 8-2 and as River Valley Central Conference runners-up, while the seventh-grade team recorded a perfect 8-0 season. Wheeler said he is excited about the incoming talent at Russellville.
“I’ve had people on staff and in the community who have told me about these kids,” he said. “There’s some good talent and good football players, and that always excites you, especially when they are young and you can mold them. That says a lot about our junior high coaches and middle school coaches and staff to get those kids going in the right direction.”
Volume Twelve: Cyclones vs. Sylvan Hills
The Cyclones fell to Sylvan Hills in the last game of the 2020 season.
Volume Eleven: Cyclones vs. Siloam Springs
I am very proud of how hard the team played Friday night versus Siloam Springs in our final home.
We are excited to enter the playoffs. We look at this as a tournament set up where every team is 0-0. We will be traveling to Sylvan Hills Friday night to take on a very good team. We believe our experience in close games this year has us well prepared for the pressure of the playoffs and we are poised to make a run.
Volume Ten: Cyclones vs. Mt Home
Week 10 is here. Not long ago we didn’t know if we would play any games, then it looked like it might get shut down early. Many teams across the state have missed several games but our kids have got to play a complete season. We have struggled down the stretch but have a chance to finish strong and get the seniors a win in their last game at Cyclone Stadium.
Volume Nine: Cyclones vs. LR Parkview
This week we have our longest road trip of the year to Mountain Home. The Bombers switched over to the 6A West after several years in the East. They have recently got a couple of big wins versus Van Buren and Siloam Springs. We need to go up and play well and get a win to ensure us a playoff spot.
Volume Eight: Cyclones vs. Greenwood
We are disappointed we were not able to stay with Greenwood and make a game of it late. We are now entering the homestretch where we have 2 of our last three at home. This week we play Little Rock Parkview who is extremely talented. We are ready for the challenge and look forward to finishing out strong.
Volume Seven: Cyclones vs. Lake Hamilton
Our kids prepared better last week than they have all year. Then they went out and played their guts out. I’ve done this a long time now and have never seen a team play harder. We had some missing, some went down, and some played almost every snap on both sides. To take a top 3 team in the state to OT and then lose on a questionable call just isn’t right. However, if we continue to prepare like that and play like that we will make a lot of noise the rest of the year.
Volume Six: Cyclones vs. Van Buren
We were disappointed in our performance at Van Buren Friday night. We know we have to play with great effort and but we also have to play smart football. We made too many mistakes to have an opportunity to win the game. We will refocus our attention to doing things right and prepare for a big home game this week against Lake Hamilton.
Volume Five: Cyclones vs. Benton
I have never been more proud of a team than I was this past Friday night. We had several players go down during the week and during the game to injury against a very talented Benton team. We continued to scratch and claw and had a chance to win the game. We came up short on the scoreboard but grew tremendously stronger as a team. We will be looking for guys to step up and fill some holes this week as we travel to take on Van Buren and try to get in the win column in conference play.
Guillermo Arroto is a defensive lineman for the Cyclones. His favorite professional athlete is Muhammad Ali. His biggest inspiration is his father. His favorite movie is Hacksaw Ridge and his favorite food is tacos.
Christian Salazar is a tight end and a safety for the Cyclones. He enjoys being outdoors in his free time outside of football. His favorite food is pizza and his biggest inspiration is his parents. If he could give any advice to young Cyclones, it would be to have fun and embrace the grind that comes with it.
JJ English is the team manager for the Cyclones. His favorite professional athlete is Patrick Mahomes. After high school, he plans on going to art school. His favorite subject in school is choir. He enjoys drawing outside of football and his favorite food is Chinese.
Volume Four: Cyclones vs. Vilonia
We finished non-conference play with a 1-2 record. All three games were close 5 point games. We are disappointed to come up short but do believe the experience of these games will help us during conference play. We open conference play this week at home against Benton. Benton won our conference last year and finished runner up in the state. They also are 1-2 right now and this is a huge game for both teams. We need to come out and play a good game and will have an excellent opportunity to get the conference season started with a big win.
Brady Burnett is a wide receiver for the Cyclones. His favorite professional athlete is Javier Baez. His biggest inspiration is his parents because they push him to be his best. His favorite movie is Avengers Endgame and his favorite food is steak.
Kobe Robinson is a wide receiver and a defensive back for the Cyclones. He enjoys playing basketball in his free time outside of football. His favorite food is Mexican chicken and his biggest inspiration is his mom. If he could give any advice to young Cyclones, it would be to never give up and work harder than everyone else.
Caleb Gray is a wide receiver and a defensive back for the Cyclones. After high school, he plans on going to college. His favorite subject in school is math. He enjoys hunting outside of football and his biggest inspiration is his dad.
Tre Potter is a linebacker and a running back for the Cyclones. His favorite movie is Avengers Endgame and his favorite food is fried chicken. His dream vehicle is a 2020 Dodge Challenger. His inspiration is his parents and his favorite professional athlete is Lebron James.
Volume Three: Cyclones vs. FS Southside
We fell in a heart breaker Friday to FS Southside. Effort certainly wasn’t an issue for us but we need to clean up some things in our execution to be more efficient. It was a great crowd and atmosphere and we appreciate our fans coming out to support the team. We have one more week of non-conference play as we prepare for the 6A-West season.
Once again I was very proud of our effort and never say die attitude Friday night. We came up a little short in a hard fought game but saw many improvements as a whole. Our defense continues to play well and offensively we did many things much better. We obviously struggled to score when in the red zone and are working tirelessly to improve that. These lessons are important to learn early in the year and get corrected by conference play. Thank you to the community for coming out and supporting us on senior night.
Tristan Wheelus is a kicker and a punter for the Cyclones. His favorite professional athlete is Buster Posey. His biggest inspiration is his Dad. His favorite movie is The Natural and his favorite food is spaghetti.
Samuel Arizaga is a receiver and a safety for the Cyclones. his favorite movie is Avengers Endgame and his favorite food is lasagna. His dream vehicle is a Lambo. His favorite professional athlete is Patrick Mahomes.
Christian McMullen is a defensive end for the Cyclones. He enjoys hanging with friends. His favorite food is steak and his biggest inspiration is his sister and his grandma. If he could give any advice to young cyclones, it would be to never take anything for granted because it goes by quickly.
Haydn King is a Linebacker for the Cyclones. After high school, he plans on going to college. His favorite subject in school is business. He enjoys hunting and fishing and his favorite professional athlete is JJ Watt.
Volume Two: Cyclones vs. Morrilton
I was so proud of our team for battling back after such a tough first half. Neither team played a very clean game but our kids kept battling and made enough plays to come away with a big win. We have studied the film closely and see a lot of things that can be improved, but also found some guys that stepped up and can help us more down the road. We will use the extra week to correct some simple mistakes that were made during the game. Offensively, we must clean up our execution of our simple stuff to avoid penalties and negative plays. At times we felt we were our own worst enemy Friday night and must improve on that. We will also work hard to improve our tackling. As well as the defense played, there were too many missed tackles. When we combine our swarming style defense with good tackling we can do some great things on that side of the ball.
Findley Golden is a receiver and a defensive back for the Cyclones. His favorite professional athlete is Peyton Manning. His favorite memory of his Cyclone football career was Junior year lock in when Latrell jumped out of the trashcan yelling during the fight song performance. His favorite movie is Remember The Titans.
Brayden Whitford is a Quarterback for the Cyclones. He enjoys hanging with friends and watching TV. His favorite food is chicken alfredo and his biggest inspiration is his Dad. If he could give any advice to young Cyclones, it would be to stick with it no matter what.
Jacob Narveson is a Left Tackle for the Cyclones. After high school, he plans on going to college and majoring in accounting. His favorite subject in school is business. He enjoys hunting and fishing and his favorite professional athlete is Bo Jackson.
Dalton Haulmark is a right tackle and a defensive end for the Cyclones. His favorite movie is My All-American and his favorite food is catfish. His dream vehicle is a 1997 Ford F-250 Lifted. His favorite professional athlete is Christian McCaffrey.
Volume One: Cyclones vs. Cabot
We are excited first that we are about to play our first game. Not too long ago it looked like that might not happen. This bunch of kids has been an awesome group to work with. They are the kids that have stuck it out during some difficult times and I’m excited to see them rewarded by playing and competing in this game they love. This is why they have earned this year’s theme: The Cyclone Core! As with every year we have challenges for this season. Obviously dealing with social distancing issues. However, we have just about gotten used to that by now. We are thin in our OL/DL play and need to stay healthy. I was very pleased with the scrimmage last week. Cabot was much bigger than us and we blocked them pretty well. Our defense was able to win on two fourth and shorts. We played a lot of guys in the varsity part of the scrimmage and it was great experience.