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Bush, Airedale staff coming together- 05/17/2021


By Kevin Taylor

Alma Schools 


Alma football coach Rusty Bush isn't completely done with hiring and shuffling his coaching staff. 

But he's a lot closer today than he was yesterday.

"We still need a seventh-grade (football) coach," Bush said. 

Bush, who took over in 2020, just prior to the COVID-19 shutdown, took some of the load off coach Chris Smith's plate by letting him become a full-time offensive coordinator. 

Smith also coached the offensive line in 2020. 

The Airedales named Vander Bowden the team's new offensive line coach. 

"Vander and I have worked together before," Bush said. "He also spent a lot of time at the University of Arkansas under (offensive line coach) Sam Pittman during the (Bret) Bielema era."

A 2013 graduate of Mountain Home, Bowden spent the spring coaching football at Southwest Baptist University.

"It's not about the knowledge, it's about the work and what it takes to be a really good football coach," Bush said. "When they do that at a young age when you don't have a family, you kind of understand what it takes."

Bowden spent two football seasons (2017-18) at Kimmons Junior High in Fort Smith before relocating to Bolivar, Missouri, to coach football at SBU. 

"He went there as a graduate assistant and they saw what they had and quickly moved him up," Bush said. "When this job came open, he was the first phone call I made."

Bush also announced that longtime junior high assistant Joey Potts has been elevated to head ninth-grade football coach. 

"Joey pours his heart and soul into all of those kids," Bush said. "We describe him as the seventh-grade head coach, but he deals with seventh grade, eighth grade and ninth grade, which can be a grinding day. You're at three or four practices a day, and he still helps us on Friday night.

"He's a guy that's completely embraced Alma. He's not from here, but he's become an Airedale."

Potts has spent more than a decade as the school's seventh-grade coach.

"He's been here 10 years," Bush said. "I told him, 'It's time to step up and be the ninth-grade coach.' 

"He's unique to Alma and the challenges we face. He loves this town; he loves this program."

The Airedales also named former Charleston standout Derrick Haney as the head eighth-grade football coach.

Haney played on Loughridge’s 2008 state champion Charleston team. A 2010 Charleston graduate, Haney comes to Alma from Brookland. 

"He's actually been coaching high school football the last couple of years," Bush said. "But he spent four years as the quality control coach at Arkansas State, so he's worked under Blake Anderson and Trooper Taylor. When I'm looking to hire an assistant coach, whether it's junior high or high school or just volunteer at the college level, they pop out to me. When you do that, you know and understand what working is all about; it is a grind ... it is a hard job. 

"If you don't pour a lot of time into this profession, you won't be successful." 

Haney, who also worked closely with Brookland's successful baseball program, will be the junior high play-caller, Bush said.