Grizzlies' Trio Opens Season In Winning Style

Arkansas 2015 DE commit Daytrieon Dean (6-3, 263), junior linebacker Deontre Hardwick (6-2, 235) and junior cornerback Kiondre Thomas (6-0, 160) - the latter two who are receiving interest from the Razorbacks - all get their season underway in grand fashion.

FORT SMITH – It was a happy bunch of Grizzlies that got out of the cage with a flourish on Friday night as the 2014 high school season got underway.

  Arkansas defensive end pledge Daytrieon Dean (6-3, 263), junior middle linebacker Deontre Hardwickk (6-2, 235) and junior cornerback Kiondre Thomas (6-0, 160) all had big games for Fort Smith Northside as it whipped Pine Bluff 26-15 in both teams’ lid-lifter.

  Hardwick had 16 tackles unofficially while he and the double-teamed Dean (6 tackles) both had a sack and Thomas picked off three passes as the Grizzlies – just 3-6-1 last season - forced six turnovers.

  “We needed it, the school needed it, our football program needed it,” Falleur said. “Last week we were in football games and couldn’t make the plays to win games, but tonight we made them.”

  Dean, one of three mid-term graduates who signed a financial aid-agreement with Arkansas in August, found two and three blockers coming at him the whole night.

  “I knew coming into the season that it was going to happen, I was going to get a lot of double teams and a lot of people were going to try and chop block me,” Dean said. “I just need to focus on making the plays that I can and if they are going to have two or three guys coming at me, Deontre is going to make even more tackles.”

  Falleur was happy with what he saw from Dean.

  “He played like a son of a gun and that’s what we want,” Falleur said. “That’s what we told him. We don’t have to play perfect, but just do your job. He got a lot of things done. I just love that.”

  Dean and Hardwickk had a sack each sandwiched around an incomplete pass on the same Pine Bluff possession.

  “It felt good,” Dean said of the sack. “Especially if I am going to see so much attention, they are going to feel even better when I get back there. You want to make the offensive coordinator on the other team mad. That means you are getting things done.”

Hardwick has an offer from Arkansas State and interest from several other schools, including Arkansas. He has been told that he will get an offer from the Razorbacks if he can get his grades up.

“I try and be his big brother and he looks at himself as my little brother,” Dean said. “I just try to talk to him about things – the way he has to act, how people view him, how he has to get his grades and that it is just not solely about what you do on the field, but also what you do off of it.

  “He really started working hard this summer, got up and early and worked with me and my trainer and we grew closer together,” Dean added. “He is improved a lot, his grades are looking good so far and I am going to stay on him.

“He is going to be a big-time player for us,” Dean continued. “He is always where the football is.”

  Hartdwick said he is doing his best to follow in Dean's path.

“Everything has been going great,” Hardwick said. “School has been going great. I can’t complain about anything right now.”

Hardwick, who had 83 tackles last season, was all over the field on Friday.

“I’ve just got to get to the ball no matter where it is at,” Hartwick said. “Wherever the ball is at, I’m there and trying to make plays.”

Hartwick, who was on hand for the Florida State-Oklahoma State game in Dallas on Aug. 30, was excited about how the defense played a full four quarters.

“The defense didn’t take plays off,” Hardwick said. “You can’t ever do that because you never know what they are capable of on that one play. We just went out and balled hard and came home with the W.”

Juniors could began being contacted on Monday, Sept. 1 and Hardwick heard from several schools.

“I got a couple of letters from Florida State, two letters from LSU, Ole Miss, got one from them (the Razorbacks) and two from Mississippi State,” Hardwick said. “Arkansas State has offered. I am hoping Florida State and Arkansas and some others.”

  Falleur believes he has two great young players in Hardwick and sophomore linebacker Chuy Parga.

“He played great,” Falleur said. “That’s what we expect him to do and the other one – Chuy Parga – did the same thing , especially for a 10th grader for his first game.”

   Thomas had two inteceptions in the first half – both ones that were overthrown to Pine Bluff wideouts and he had to use his speed to in essence play wide receiver and make the play.

“I was just out there making plays,” Thomas said. “It just happened. I do think a lot has to do with my speed with his a 4.3. I just do what my coach tells me. It felt good, it felt really good. We are on the up and up.”

Falleur does indeed like that trait from Thomas.

“He played great and is a big-time player and that is what we have got to have,” Falleur said.

Thomas came to Arkansas camp and ran the fastest time of those at that particular camp.

“He is a 4.4 40 type of guy and I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes one to the house,” Dean said. “He is just freakish athlete. A lot of schools are not on his radar, but give it time. He is going to be a big-time player.”

He got attention from several schools on Monday as well.

“Arkansas, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Arkansas State were some of the ones getting in touch with me,” Thomas said. “I really like Arkansas. I think they are on the up and up just like us."

  Dean is pleased with how Arkansas' 2015 recruiting class is shaping up with 12 current commits and the hopeful addition of Dumas tight end Will Gragg and Nashville wideout LaMichael Pettway.

  “It is going great and I think the 2015 class is going to be the best one that Arkansas has had in awhile,” Dean said. “We just have to keep adding a couple more guys like Will and we will be alright."

  Dean and Fort Smith Northside will play Little Rock Central on Friday with some momentum.

“It gives the fans that loved Northside that we might could get back to where we were in the 90s,” Dean said. “We are going to play that old school defense. I think a win tonight gave the fans a reason to come back and we really feed off of that and are motivated by their love and support.”

Daytrieon Dean

Deontre Hartwick

Kiondre Thomas

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