Two local high school coaches will be suiting up with the new Mesquite Marshals professional arena football team when games begin games next year.
Most notably is Mabank Panthers Quarterback Coach Kolton Browning. After finishing his college career in 2014, Browning began his journey to play professional football by trying out with the Dallas Cowboys and serving for a time with Winnipeg Blue Bombers before a messy stint with the Brooklyn Bolts. After those situations didn’t pan out for Browning, he came back to Mabank and began working as the quarterback coach for the Panthers.
Meanwhile, Eustace offensive line coach Clay Ard was networking with an old friend in the business: Marshals Head Coach Larry Hendrix. Hendrix and Ard worked together seven years ago when they coached for a team in the Independent Indoor Football Alliance. Ard joined Hendrix’s staff on the Marshals and eventually approached Browning.
“Kolton was hesitant to join up at first because how poorly things went with the Bombers,” Ard said. “Some minor league teams can be very sketchy and sometimes whole teams fold during the season. Sometimes players never get paid.”
However, Ard –who himself is a former Panthers coach from Browning’s time on the Mabank squad–had a good rapport with the quarterback and was able to persuade him to join the team.
“Kolton was concerned that playing would interfere with his commitment as a coach,” Ard said. “I assured him it would not. Games don’t begin until after the football season is over and I am a high school coach myself.”
Browning has signed with the team, but he will still need to earn his spot like any other player.
“Kolton will be out there for the second try-outs in October,” Ard said. “While anyone can show up and compete with him for the quarterback role, with his level of talent and experience I expect that he will to be our starter.”
Browning is a former Mabank Panthers quarterback and had a successful college career with the University of Louisiana–Monroe Warhawks. As a Warhawk he was named the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year in 2012.
The Mesquite Marshals are the 11th team in the Indoor Football League and will be playing home games at the Mesquite Championship Arena. Head Coach Hendrix is a former NFL player and has been coaching arena football since 2001.
Cheerleader tryouts are set for Aug. 1-2.