21st Sporty Bowl set for April 8

Darrell Burnett named 2023 Sporty Carpenter Award winner

By DAVID SALLEY | HSU Sports Network

Henderson State will conclude its spring practice schedule on Saturday, April 8 at 11 a.m. when the Reddies play in the 21st annual Sporty Bowl at Carpenter-Haygood Stadium and GeoSurfaces Field. Admission to the spring game is free for all fans and spectators. 

At halftime, head coach Scott Maxfield will present the 2023 Sporty Carpenter Award to this year’s recipient, Darrell Burnett, head coach at Hot Springs World Class High School.

The award is given in honor of Henderson State legend Sporty Carpenter, who served as the Reddies’ head football coach from 1971-1989. During his time at Henderson, Carpenter compiled 119 wins and led the Reddies to five Arkansas Intercollegiate Conference (AIC) titles.

Each year, the award is presented to a former Reddie football player or Henderson State alum who has pursued a career in coaching football and has exemplified excellence on and off the field.

Burnett, who played defensive back for Henderson State from 2003 to 2007, has been at the helm of the Trojans’ program since 2018 and has made major strides in the last five years. After going 1-9 the season prior to Burnett’s arrival, Hot Springs has compiled 21 victories in the last five years, including a mark of 7-4 in 2022 — the most wins for the school since 2014. The Trojans have made the 5A playoffs in each of the last three seasons, marking the longest playoff streak in school history.

Before his time as the head coach at Hot Springs, Burnett made multiple assistant coaching stops in Arkansas. He got his start at Gurdon in 2011, where he coached football, basketball and track before becoming the defensive coordinator at Camden Fairview in 2012, where he won a 5A state championship alongside head coach Buck James. His defense pitched a shutout in the second half against Batesville to help the Cardinals win their first state title in school history.

After two seasons at Camden Fairview, Burnett was named assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Malvern; a position he held from 2014 until 2016. His final assistant coaching gig came at Bryant, where he served as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator in 2016 and 2017 and helped lay the foundation for what has become the premier high school football program in the state.

Burnett is a native of England, Arkansas and received his bachelor’s degree in Sports and Community Management from Henderson State in 2007. He and his wife, former Reddie basketball player and 2015 Hall of Honor inductee Saprina Burnett (Reed), have two daughters, Daniyah and Laila.

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