Hughes High School to name field for Malzahn

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AUBURN – The field where Gus Malzahn began his coaching career will be named in his honor.

Hughes (Ark.) High School will name its stadium for Malzahn during a ceremony June 2 at the school, Hughes’ principal and athletic director, Jeff Spaletta, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in March.

The dedication of the stadium coincides with the 20th anniversary of the 1994 team, which Malzahn coached to a 10-4 record and finished with a 17-13 loss to Lonoke in the Class AA state championship game.

Former athletic director Charlie Patrick hired Malzahn to be defensive coordinator at Hughes, a small town on the Arkansas Delta outside Memphis, in 1991 and he took over as head coach of the Blue Devils from 1992-1995.

Malzahn was inducted into the Arkansas High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame last summer. He won state championships at Shiloh Christian (1998 and 1999) and Springdale (2005) before entering the college game at Arkansas in 2006 under Houston Nutt.

Malzahn is scheduled to speak at an alumni luncheon at 12:30 p.m. with the field dedication to follow at 2 p.m. and a banquet that evening.

Hughes officials hope for Malzahn’s return to help as the district attempts to reinstate football after not fielding a high school team since 2010 because of insufficient player participation. The Blue Devils finished the 2010 season 0-10 and lost 39 consecutive games.

“The school’s in fiscal distress, we’re hoping to change things,” Spaletta said in an interview with Fox13 Memphis on Monday. “Started a booster club, PTO’s heavily involved, we’re hoping to have junior high football next year.”

Spaletta told the Democrat-Gazette Hughes plans to have a junior high team this fall, a high school junior varsity team in 2015 and a varsity team in 2016.