Tuesday, May 24, 2011

SPORTS >> Hatcher, NP football part ways

Leader sportswriter

North Pulaski football is in the same predicament as it was the previous two years — the Falcons have no head coach.

Terrod Hatcher stepped down after one season as head coach two weeks ago, just before the start of spring practice. Athletic director Tony Bohannon oversaw spring practice with the help of assistant coaches Bobby Vaughn, Jay Darr, J.D. Pendagraft and Greg West.

Hatcher was promoted from offensive coordinator, after his players lobbied him to take the job, for the 2010 season. The Falcons won one game against Crossett, 38-13, in Week 8.

Hatcher’s predecessor, Rick Russell, coached the Falcons in 2009 and also went 1-9, with a Week 3 victory over Little Rock McClellan.

Russell left last summer to return to Jacksonville High School as head coach and led the Red Devils to the second round of the state playoffs. Hatcher, who had served under Russell as offensive coordinator in2009, took over just before the start of fall practice and at 23 was one of the youngest coaches in the state.

Sources said Hatcher, an Arkansas Tech graduate, was returning to school. Attempts to reach him by phone were unsuccessful.

Hatcher’s resignation is another bump in the road for North Pulaski football.

Bohannon was coach of the Falcons from 2002-08, going 5-65 in seven seasons.

The team has had one winning season in 33 years, and has never qualified for postseason play.

“You have to have a coaching staff that works well together,” Bohannon said. “And no detriment to the kids, but you’ve got to have the numbers also — and some stability.”

Hatcher played defensive back and running back at Jacksonville High School under longtime coach Johnny Watson. In a twist, Russell was Hatcher’s defensive coach at Jacksonville.

Hatcher started school at Arkansas State then transferred to Arkansas Tech. Upon graduation, Hatcher briefly coached at Fuller Middle School before joining the varsity staff under Russell.

There was hope when Hatcher was promoted late last summer. The program, long in search of an identity, had enthusiasm with a popular coach who was close to his players in age.

But it wasn’t long before Hatcher’s frustration began to show and he became known for making few excuses for losing performances.

Through the confusion of Hatcher’s departure, Bohannon coordinated spring practice.

There were 26 players who turned out, all but three of whom were sophomores and juniors.

“Spring went great,” Bohannon said.

“We didn’t bring out all the ninth-graders. We just went with the ones who had already been out here and going through offseason. I think we had three ninth-graders out there.

“At semester, we tried to move up what we could.”