Sunday, June 01, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Bison again looking for new coach

Leader sportswriter

The search for a new head football coach is underway at the Carlisle School District, as Carlisle superintendent Jason Clark and Bison head coach Brandon Barbaree confirmed Thursday that Barbaree has accepted an administrative position in the Pangburn School District.

In Barbaree’s only season as Carlisle’s head coach, the Bison finished with a 12-2 overall record and advanced to the class 2A state semifinals where they lost to eventual state champion and perennial 2A power Junction City.

On Wednesday, Barbaree was hired as principal of Pangburn Middle School. Even though Barbaree is leaving the school, he and his current staff at Carlisle are still overseeing spring football practices as the search for a new coach begins.

“Word travels fast, and we’ve already received e-mails and phone calls about the position,” said Clark on Thursday.

Clark said the search for their new coach began immediately on Thursday, and although he added the school district would like to get through the hiring process in a timely fashion, Clark said there won’t be a rush to make a hire and that the position will be open for as long as it takes to hire a new coach.

“It’s still early, but we don’t have a deadline or anything like that in mind,” Clark said. “The position will be open until a new coach is hired.”

Barbaree spoke with The Leader Thursday evening, and said the opportunity to spend more time with his wife and kids had a lot to do with his decision to leave coaching altogether.

“I just needed a change,” said Barbaree. “I don’t see my own kids as much as the ones I coach. They’re still young and I hate missing things as they’re growing up, and I just want to spend more time with them. I’ve kind of reorganized my priorities, I guess. Like I said, I just want to spend more time with my family.”

Carlisle’s football program has long been rich with tradition, but the Bison had one of its more talented teams last season, which in turn, led to high expectations and team goals. The Bison’s stellar season lived up to those expectations, but Barbaree admitted the way the season ended took something out of him.

“To be honest with you, that team last year had as good of a group of kids as you could ever coach, and that’s all the way down – from the seniors to the sophomores,” Barbaree said. “They were unbelievable to work with.

“The kids worked as hard as they could. They gave everything they had. A couple things happened. Our senior quarterback (Austin Reed) tore his ACL. We had a kid step up, Chase Brazeal; he fought and found a way to lead us.

“Then we have a chance against Junction. We’ve got the ball with three minutes to go and we’re driving, and our running back (and leading rusher), DeRon Ricks, tore his ACL. I just felt that this was about as good as it could get without winning a state championship, and when we lost, it didn’t tear me apart, but it kind of took something from me.

“I felt like I gave everything I had to the team, and I just needed a change. But I do appreciate everything Carlisle has given to me. The two years I’ve been there were unbelievable, and I really, really do appreciate everything they’ve done.”

Barbaree took over head coaching duties last year after former Bison coach Scott Waymire accepted the head coaching vacancy at class 4A Trumann. Barbaree spent a year as an assistant at Carlisle before taking over as head coach, and before that he was the head coach at England.

Barbaree turned the football program around at England, leading the Lions to their first winning season in more than 20 years in 2010.

Under Barbaree’s lead, the Bison finished second in the 2A-6 Conference this past season behind conference champion Des Arc, but had a much stronger showing against Junction City than the Eagles did.

Carlisle challenged the Dragons like no other team had, and had the champs on the ropes till a pick six with 39 seconds remaining gave Junction City a 38-28 win in the semifinals. In the state championship game a week later, the Dragons hammered Des Arc on their way to a 60-0 blowout victory.