Friday, June 12, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Jacksonville loses two coaches, appeal

Leader sports editor

It’s been a week of bad news for the Jacksonville High School athletic program. Two coaches departed for Maumelle and the school found out on Thursday that it will have to compete in a classification above its likely enrollment numbers beginning in the next classification cycle in 2016.

Head girls’ basketball coach William Rountree accepted the same position at Maumelle, and head boys’ soccer and assistant football coach Adam Thrash will be the football offensive coordinator and soccer coach for the Hornets.

Rountree coached the Lady Red Devils for two seasons. He inherited a senior-oriented team and advanced to the quarterfinals of the state tournament his first year. Last year, with only one returning player with significant varsity experience, Rountree got the Lady Devils back to the state tournament before losing in the first round to tournament host Greene County Tech.

Thrash joined Jacksonville’s football staff two years ago as offensive coordinator under former head coach Rick Russell. Last season, first-year head coach Barry Hickingbotham took over coordinator duties and Thrash coached quarterbacks and receivers.

Thrash also coached soccer for two years, and this past season, led Jacksonville to its best-ever season, going 12-4 and finishing second in the 5A-Central before losing in the first round of the state tournament in double overtime.


On Thursday, Jacksonville lost its appeal to the Arkansas High School Activities Association concerning the way the current North Pulaski High School student population will be counted for the two-year classification cycle that begins with the 2016-17 school year.

When the AHSAA released the numbers several weeks ago, it counted 100 percent of the NPHS student population as Jacksonville students, moving JHS from about the middle of the 5A classification to the second largest 6A school in the state.

That’s despite the fact that projections indicate that about 57 percent of current NP students entering grades 9-11 will attend Sylvan Hills in 2016.

Only about 42 percent will attend Jacksonville. Football coach Barry Hickingbotham, who spearheaded the appeal, was not available for comment on Friday. But athletic director Jerry Wilson, who was also heavily involved in the appeal process, was disappointed in the decision.

“We made a good case,” said Wilson. “The numbers are what they are. We presented the facts. We still lost, now we just have to move forward. The main thing is, we just wanted our kids to know we weren’t going to let them be put at a disadvantage and do nothing. We were going to try something and we were going to go to bat for them. But we lost this one, so now we move on.”

Jacksonville’s conference for 2016-17 and 2017-18 will be the 6A-East, and will include Jonesboro, Little Rock Hall, Marion, Mountain Home, Pine Bluff, Searcy and West Memphis.