All across Arkansas head football coaching jobs have opened and most quickly filled as schools move to fill positions in anticipation of the 2020 football season.
ARKANSAS HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL COACHING CHANGES
School^Conference^Previous Coach^New Coach
Fountain Lake^4A-7^^Kenny Shelton*^Kenny Shelton
Alma^5A West^Doug Loughridge^Rusty Bush
Cross County^2A-3^Tommy Wells^Cody Goulart
Heber Springs^4A-2^Will Cox^Todd Wood
Jacksonville^5A Central^Jordan Johnston^Maurice Moody
De Queen^5A South^Stephen Sloan^Brad Chesshir
Prescott^3A-5^Tommy Poole^Brian Glass
Waldron^4A-4^Jonathan Bates^Doug Powell
Danville^3A-4^D.J. Crane^Drew Smyly
Mountain Home^6A West^Bryan Mattox^Steve Ary
Lincoln^3A-1^Don Harrison^Reed Mendoza
Booneville^3A-4^Scott Hyatt^Doc Crowley
Little Rock Southwest^7A Central^N/A^Daryl Patton
Magazine^2A-4^Doug Powell^Ryan Chambers
Bauxite^4A-7^Daryl Patton^Caleb Perry
Smackover^3A-6^Brian Brown^David Osborn
North Little Rock^7A Central^Jamie Mitchell^J.R. Eldridge
Crossett^4A-8^Sonny Nason^Shawn Jackson
Brookland^5A East^Chuck Speer^Eric Munoz
Dover^4A-4^Reed Mendoza^Will Cox
Greenwood^6A West^Rick Jones^Chris Young
Trumann^4A-3^Scott Waymire^Randy Phillips
Little Rock Hall ^5A Cental^Kipchoge VanHoose^Jim Withrow
Sylvan Hills^6A East^Jim Withrow^Chris Hill
Arkadelphia^4A-7^J.R. Eldridge^Trey Schucker
Gentry^4A-1^Paul Ernest^Justin Bigham
Salem^3A-2^Clay Wiggins^Josh Watson
Pea Ridge^5A West^Stephen Neal^Jeff Williams
Fort Smith Southside^7A Central^Jeff Williams^TBA
Sheridan^6A East^Lance Parker^TBA
Lincoln dismissed its head football coach Jan. 6 and opted to rehire Reed Mendoza, who served two seasons as the Wolves' offensive coordinator from 2017-2018 before taking a head coaching job at Dover where he was 0-10 during the 2019 season.
The Wolves drop to Class 3A for 2020 and will rejoin their old conference, the 3A-1 in which they last competed as a member during 2011 when former coach Brad Harris led Lincoln to its only second playoff berth in school history achieving a 7-4 record.
The 3A-1 membership saw significant rearrangement for the 2020-2021 cycle with 2019 league champion Booneville, 8-3, 7-0; and playoff team Lamar, 9-3, 5-2, leaving along with Paris, 3-7, 1-6. Lincoln, 5-5, 2-5, moves down from the 4A-1 while Hackett, 8-3, 4-1, and Lavaca, 1-9, 1-4, jump up from the 2A-4.
Several other changes generate a direct impact on local teams with conference opponents taking on new leadership at Alma and Pea Ridge in the 5A West, of which Farmington, which went 6-4, 3-4 in 2019, is a league member; and at Gentry in the 4A-1, a league foe for Prairie Grove which went 4-7, 3-4, in 2019.
Farmington, which joined the 7A West Junior High football conference in 2019, will take on a pair of 7A West varsity teams this fall. The Cardinals play host to Rogers Heritage (0-10, 0-7 for 2019) on Aug. 28 in the season-opener at Cardinal Stadium; and Springdale (3-7, 1-6 for 2019) coached by one of Farmington head coach Mike Adams' former players at Fayetteville, Zak Clark, on Sept. 11.
In between the Cardinals travel to rival Prairie Grove on Sept. 4.
Prairie Grove Opponents
Alma and Pea Ridge both wanted to play Prairie Grove in nonconference games. The Airdales had first opportunity but the deal fell through when Alma wanted to change the junior high game.
Rusty Bush was named head coach replacing Doug Loughridge the week before Christmas so he had some time with the team prior to the covid-19 disruption of sports. Bush spent 14 years as an assistant coach at Fort Smith Northside, including seven years as the Grizzlies' defensive coordinator under former head coach Darrell Henry, then as assistant head coach under Mike Falleur.
Prairie Grove agreed to a series with Pea Ridge, which had been one of the Tigers' biggest rivals in recent years while competing for 4A-1 conference championships. Former Blackhawk head coach Stephen Neal left Pea Ridge to take a defensive coordinator position at Deer Creek High School in Edmond, Okla.
"I know I can trust him," said Prairie Grove coach Danny Abshier, adding, "But I won't miss him across the fields on Friday night. He was pretty good."
Neal compiled a 40-13 record from 2016-2019 at Pea Ridge.
The Tigers and Blackhawks will compete on Sept. 11 in varsity action
Pea Ridge recently hired Jeff Williams, who won 99 games including the 7A state championship in 2006 while at Fort Smith Southside. The Blackhawks also have a change at athletic director with former head football coach Tony Travis taking the reins from Kevin Ramey.
Abshier and Prairie Grove will encounter a familiar face in week three when they travel to Stilwell, Okla., to take on former Lincoln coach Don Harrison and the Indians on Sept. 18. Harrison, who went 23-29 with two playoff appearances at Lincoln, will also coach against another 4A-1 team when the Indians take on Gentry Sept. 11.
Citing family considerations and the covid-19 crisis, Paul Ernest resigned from Gentry April 16 to take a job as offensive coordinator at Mineral Springs as well as the school's Dean of Students. Ernest said the move will allow his wife, Jennifer, to be closer to her parents and during restrictions imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus there were things the family wanted to do, but couldn't.
Ernest was also head softball coach at Gentry. He led the Pioneers to three consecutive football playoff berths in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Ernest went 20-33 in five seasons of Pioneer football.
On May 7, Gentry hired Justin Bigham, who had been offensive coordinator at Rogers.Sports on 05/27/2020
Print Headline: Many Football Coaching Changes