Coaching changes abundant

So you want to be an Arkansas high school head football coach? A word to the wise: rent.

Two-a-day practice sessions began Monday and when players reported to their respective practice facilities around the state, a good number did so to new head football coaches. In Class AAA alone, there are 16 new faces in charge, a whopping 25 percent turnover from a season ago.
In some cases -- like Doug Scheel taking over at Berryville -- the head coach retired or moved into administration and an experienced head coach is taking over. In other cases -- like Mike Johnson at Ozark -- the former head coach has taken over the reins of another program and the school promoted from within.
In some cases, the new coach has been pressured, forced or strongly encouraged to find a new job and is moving from one level to another -- see Scheel again, or Mike Adams, who left Fayetteville for Farmington -- or the new coach is making a lateral move in terms of classification, like Tommy Gilleran going from Dover to Fountain Lake.
In still others, like Jason West at England, coaches have made the jump from assistant at one school (Byran, Texas) to head coach at another. Or like Tommy Cody who was at West Fork but stepped up to AAAAA Sheridan as head coach or still yet, as is the case with Happy Grayson in McGehee, administrators are coming back to the game.
And, sometimes guys just go home, like Jimmy ³Red² Parker, who is back at Fordyce 50 years after taking over the Redbugs the first time. Either way, a lot of addresses have changed since last season.
While returning starters is typically a big topic this time of year, around Class AAA the returning head coaches may be bigger. Two conferences, the 3AAA and the 5AAA, return the same eight coaches who were calling the shots in 2002. The 2AAA has only one new face -- Harold Wilson at Heber Springs.
In the other five leagues, including the 4AAA, there are three newcomers. In each case in the 4AAA, the new coach was on staff.
At Ozark, the aforementioned Johnson was the defensive coordinator a year ago and moved into the top job when Mark Ford bolted for Green County Tech over the winter. At Subiaco, Mike Berry took the administration route and Kenneth Stovall takes over. And, at West Fork, Bryan Dougan steps up from
the defensive coordinator job to the boss' chair after Cody left for Sheridan.
With the new head coaches, Booneville head coach Kenneth Rippy now has more years at the Bearcats' helm than do the rest of the league's coaches combined. In fact, excluding Rippy, Allan Rettman's six years at Waldron matches the rest of the league's head coaching experience.
The most youthful of the leagues in 2003, at least in terms of head-coaching experience at their current school, will be the 6AAA, where there are new faces at Pulaski Academy (Kevin Kelley), Michael Carter at DeWitt and West at England. The remainder of the league has a total of 10 years of tenure in their current position.
Besides Rippy, there are only eight coaches in Class AAA who are coming into the season with at least a decade of service -- or a third of the payments on your average mortgage loan satisfied.
Rippy's 127 wins at Booneville -- the most of any head coach in the history of the program -- is second among AAA coaches only to the 130 wins Dave Williams has at Pocahontas. Rippy, though, has far fewer losses, 32 compared to 100, than does Williams.
Excluding those nine veterans, the average length of continual service among AAA coaches is just over two years apiece. With the years of combined service by the other nine coaches, the average more than doubles to 3.8 per man.
The numbers don't lie. Having so many new coaches in a given season is anything but a new trend. In fact, there are 13 men who were first timers at their schools a season ago in AAA -- four in the 3AAA -- and another nine who will be coaching seniors who were sophomores when the new coach came to town.
The days when guys move into a community to take over a football program and end up retiring in the community are, for the most part, gone. Obviously, there is no one specific reason, but ambition on the part of the coaches themselves or the pressure to "win or else" placed on them in some locations are leading contributors.
Can the trend be stopped, or at least slowed? Probably not. Unfortunately, the high school game is becoming more and more like the college and professional levels almost daily, not only with its style of play, but also with its attitudes and the attitudes of its leaders. For instance, FedEx is paying for stadium naming rights at Crooked Creek in Harrison.
Although the emphasis here has been on Class AAA, moving around is not exclusive to the third largest classification. In fact, there is a greater percentage of first-timers in AAAAA, where 11 (34 percent) of the 32 jobs were vacated after 2002.
In Class AA there are 14 new coaches at the 71 schools and there was the least amount of turnover in AAAA where six schools have new coaches.
So while you're checking the program for the players this season, you may want to take a gander at who the head coach is.

SCHOOL - COACH TO BEGIN 2002, NEW COACH
ARKADELPHIA - Butch Alexander Brad Harris
AUGUSTA - Bobby Hart replaced by Heath Prine
BEARDEN - Red Parker replaced by Patrick Russell
BERRYVILLE - Carl Owens replaced by Doug Scheel
BRYANT - Daryl Patton replaced by Paul Calley
CADDO HILLS - Wayne McGibbony replaced by Morry Sanders
CARLISLE - James Clayton replaced by John Steward
CEDARVILLE - Steve Russell replaced by Shannon Rhea
CENTERPOINT - B.J. Applegate replaced by Cary Rogers
DANVILLE - Kenny Bell replaced by D.J. Crane
DeQUEEN - Jeff Jones replaced by Van Paschal
DES ARC - Bill Buckner replaced by Tim Harper
DeWITT - Paul Wilson replaced by Michael Carter
FARMINGTON - Bryan Law replaced by Mike Adams
FAYETTEVILLLE - Mike Adams replaced by Daryl Patton
FOUNTAIN LAKE - Marc Davis replaced by Tommy Gilleran
EL DORADO - Ellis Register replaced by Jeff Williams
ENGLAND - Jeff Stewart replaced by Jason West
FORDYCE - Steve Baxley replaced by Red Parker
FOUKE -- Cary Rogers replaced by Jay Turley
GENTRY - Paul Willis replaced by Jeff Stewart
GREENE CO. TECH - Pip Runynan replaced by Mark Ford
HACKETT - Ed Hula replaced by Edwin Baker
HAZEN - Bruce Thompson replaced by Wayne Raney
HEBER SPRINGS - Todd Thompson replaced by Dale Cresswell
HOPE - Kevin Stamp replaced by Johnny Turner
LAFAYETTE - Consolidated of Lewisville and Stamps coached by Michael Stout
LITTLE ROCK CATHEDRAL - John Steward replaced by Pip Runyan
LITTLE ROCK CATHOLIC - Doug Pilcher replaced by Ellis Register
LITTLE ROCK FAIR - Kimmie Cleveland replaced by Donald Harris
LITTLE ROCK HALL - Byron Shells replaced by John Daniels
LITTLE ROCK LUTHERAN - Chuck Paige replaced by Gary Vogel
LITTLE ROCK McCLELLAN - Bryan Hutson replaced by Anthony Chambers
MARVELL - Fred Carter replaced by Roderick Rembert
MARSHALL - Jarrett Watts replaced by Matt Sullivan
McGEHEE - Scott Hyatt replaced by Happy Grayson
MORRILTON - Doug Scheel replaced by Chris Hill
MOUNTAIN HOME - Kevin Miller replaced by Shane Patrick
NORTH LITTLE ROCK - Greg Burl replaced by Bryan Hutson
OZARK - Mark Ford replaced by Michael Johnson
PIGGOTT - Scott Morgan replaced by Ken Shumate
PULASKI ACADEMY - Kirby Norwood replaced by Kevin Kelley
SHERIDAN - Van Paschal replaced by Tommy Cody
SMACKOVER - Mike Taylor replaced by Eric Henderson
STRONG - Bill Neikirk replaced by Jerry Langston
SUBIACO ACADEMY - Michael Berry replaced by Kenneth Stovall
TEXARKANA - Denny Burdine replaced by Bill Keopple
VAN BUREN - Greg Jones replaced by Eddie Tipton
WEST FORK - Tommy Cody replaced by Bryan Dougan
WHITE HALL - Charles Vereen replaced by Mike Vaughn


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