High school football: Unconventional Arkansas coach that never punts lands college head coaching gig

Mitch Stephens | MaxPreps.com Friday, May 7, 2021 5:00pm

Nine-time state champion and innovative offensive mastermind leaves Pulaski Academy for new challenge in South Carolina.

Kevin Kelley approached and accomplished things on the high school football field few have ever done. The Pulaski Academy (Little Rock, Ark.) head football coach announced Thursday he was leaving his post to take the same job at NCAA FCS program Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C.

The nine-time state champion has earned national attention for his statistical-driven, no-punt, high risk-high reward approach while piling up head-spinning numbers at the small (1,221 enrollment K-12), private, independent school in central Arkansas.

The 51-year-old's revolutionary offenses and methods were featured on segments of 60 Minutes, HBO's Real Sports and NFL Films and he once was a guest speaker at MIT. He was a pioneer of analytics in the high school game.

In 18 seasons, he boasted a record of 216-29-1 and was recently inducted into the Arkansas Hall of Fame.

His rise in fame coincided with the invention of numbers-driven MaxPreps.com and he quickly became the poster coach for entering team and individual statistics. His teams often ranked near or at the top of all offensive categories.
Kevin Kelley, Pulaski Academy
File photo by Rickey Miller
Kevin Kelley, Pulaski Academy
Among the Bruins' remarkable feats since 2004:



* Scoring more than 600 points 13 times and at least 700 seven times, topped out at 790 in 2019 and 789 in 2011.

* That 2011 squad was his only team to finish 15-0. Three other times the Bruins went unbeaten including his final season in 2020 (13-0), the only time they finished No. 1 in the MaxPreps Arkansas computer rankings. They finished ranked second in 2008, 2016 and 2019 and No. 3 in 2011.

* In all but one season (2009), they averaged more than 500 yards per game, while once clearing the 600-yard plateau in 2019. That year, they averaged a ridiculous 648 yards, 439 through the air and 209 on the ground.

* Average yards per game per year since 2010: 529, 537, 513, 556, 516, 581, 550, 571, 597, 648 and 579.

* Points per game since 2014: 50.2, 50.8, 47.8, 56.0, 50.2, 56.4 and 50.7.

* In a 2017 game, the Bruins pilled up what was then a national record 991 total yards during an 86-56 win over Little Rock Christian Academy. Layne Hatcher set a state record with 745 yards passing to go along with nine touchdown passes.



Hatcher is one of the most prolific passers the country has ever seen. He's the state leader with 15,483 career passing yards.  But Hatcher is not nearly alone among Kelley's pupils.

A 2020 story by MaxPreps senior writer and historian Kevin Askeland highlighted that Kelley has coached 12 of the top 100 single-season passing yardage marks in history.
Layne Hatcher, Pulaski Academy's record-setting quarterback in 2017.
File photo
Layne Hatcher, Pulaski Academy's record-setting quarterback in 2017.