Embracing the challenge: Harrisons feel no pressure in turnaround quest at Memorial

Published 10:41 pm Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Your football team posted 3-7 records the past two seasons. Your son, a Division I recruit, is fully healthy after a knee injury limited him last season. Another player of yours is committed to LSU.

Naturally, the pressure is on you to turn the fortunes of your team around, correct?

Try telling that to Port Arthur Memorial coach Kenny Harrison.

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“I don’t feel any pressure, but it’s definitely refreshing,” he said. “It’s a sense of a new start after a disappointing last two years. Having an opportunity to start over in a new district, I’m real excited about that.”

The storyline seems worn out even before the season has kicked off: Memorial is now competing in District 22-5A. Goodbye to the North Shore-ruled District 21-6A.

But there’s another reason Harrison feels refreshed going into the 2016 season: Half of his coaching staff is new.

Offensive line coach T.K. Harrison is helping coordinate the offense along with returning quarterbacks coach Cornelius Harmon. Cody Haug is now in charge of the defense, working with fellow newcomers Thomas Brooks (defensive line) and Matthew Royce (outside linebackers). And Rishard Colquitt joined the staff to coach the wide receivers.

“Anytime you have back-to-back 3-7 years, there’s going to be some change,” Kenny Harrison said. “So, I put a plan in place to mesh some guys from the past staff with a couple of new guys and shuffle some people around. In the process, some of the guys on the past staff went on and got other opportunities.”

The players feed into the positive energy the new coaches bring, the head coach said.

Meanwhile, his son Kadon added nearly 30 pounds over the past two years and performed well enough at a camp at Louisiana-Lafayette to earn a scholarship offer from the Ragin’ Cajuns, a sign that he bounced back nicely from surgery on his torn meniscus.

He’s returning for his third season as a starting quarterback, after now-senior DeAndre Angelle and now-junior Keitha Jones took over for him later in the season. Both are primarily wide receivers, but Jones will be used in certain situations under center.

“I think I’m more confident than I was last year as running the ball and throwing the ball,” Kadon said. “I gained a little weight. I’m gaining confidence all the way around.”

Kadon is the first Division I oral commit from Memorial. Cornerback and wideout Kary Vincent Jr. announced his decision to attend LSU beginning in August 2017.

Kadon said his father talks about the 3-7 seasons all the time, stressing in the process what to work on. Still, neither he nor Kenny feel any pressure to take Memorial back to championship contender status.

“We just go out there and have some fun, do what we do,” Kadon said. “We’re not looking to have another 3-7 season. We’re looking to go 10-0.”

The key to high rewards for the Titans, coach Harrison said, will be staying healthy. They have a scrimmage at 10:30 a.m. Friday morning at Memorial Stadium against Goose Creek Memorial and will begin the season eight days later against Bay High of Panama City, Fla., in Beaumont.

Before the Harrisons know it, the Titans will try their hands against neighborly competition including Port Neches-Groves, Nederland, Ozen and Central.

“Over the last couple of weeks, the thing I noticed the most about this district is how hard the teams play,” Kenny Harrison said. “I’ve gotten an opportunity to watch just about every team in this district, and the thing I see is how hard these kids play and a lot of pride in their programs.”

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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