PINE BLUFF, Ark. – More student athletes at Pine Bluff High School are making the honor roll after a new schedule was implemented to focus on grades.

Head coach, Micheal Williams, started a new program where the boys practice before school, and have tutoring or study hall after school.

When the school year began, the average GPA for the team was 2.2, now fast forward to the second half of the school year, and the team is well on their way to an average of 3.0.

Football players at Pine Bluff High School have been sprinting towards honor roll since Coach Williams created a new schedule.

“I want them to be whatever they want to be, but I know it has to start with academics,” Williams said.

After months of hard work, it is paying off, raising the team GPA from a 2.2 to a 2.7.

“We actually had at least 28 of the 75 players that’s receiving awards for academics, it averages out to about 37% who are on there of the whole school body that’s getting an award for merit list, honor roll, AB honor roll or principles list,” Williams stated.

The honor roll list for the second nine weeks came out Monday and Coach Williams’ was ecstatic.

 “I got a little emotional because some of my kids have never,” Williams said.

MaClain Heisler is one of those kids, but that changed when his name appeared on the list Monday.

“The after-school tutoring that is the only reason that I made it because, if I go home, I’m not doing the work, so that hour and a half gave me opportunity to actually do the work I needed to do,” Heisler said.

“At first I wasn’t focused, I was hanging around with the wrong crowd, not the wrong crowd, but going to other teachers’ classes, but now since coach has talked to me, I have been focused,” football player, Lamarion Ross said.

“GPA going up, grades getting higher, next time I’m going to be on the merit list,” football player D’Juan Hayes said.

Coach Williams said they are averaging around 30 guys on the team on the honor roll.

Williams said he is so proud of the guys’ hard work, but there is still a lot of work to be done.