Thursday, July 02, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Jacksonville athletics fills four more open spots

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville High School has now filled all but one of the many coaching positions left open at the end of last school year, and some of the new hires, plus other departures from North Pulaski, means that all JHS and NPHS springs sports will combine in the 2015-16 school year.

“All the spring sports are going to merge together next year,” said Jacksonville athletic director Jerry Wilson. “Baseball, softball, soccer and track will be here. But we’re going to play some soccer games at North Pulaski.”

North Pulaski was left without its track coach when Teodis Ingram was transferred to Fuller before second semester last year. It was also left without a softball coach and athletic director when Tony Bohannon retired at the end of the school year.

The Falcons lost their soccer coach when Jacksonville announced the hiring of Donny Lantrip to head the ninth-grade football program and varsity soccer, and will now lose their baseball coach.

Head baseball Falcon the last two years, Michael Dean, will join head coach Larry Burrows and assistant Jeremiah Clennon onthe Red Devils’ baseball staff.

Crystal Scott, who was William Rountree’s assistant the last two seasons, has been promoted to head girls’ basketball coach after Rountree’s departure for Maumelle. Before coming to Jacksonville, Scott was the head girls’ coach at Dollarway High School in Pine Bluff. She will also continue as girls’ track coach next year.

The football program added a vast amount of experience to its staff with two new hires. Former Vilonia head coach Jim Stanley is now part of second-year coach Barry Hickingbotham’s staff, as well as longtime coach Bobby Gentry.

Stanley only officially resigned from the head VHS position earlier this week, and will likely work on the offensive side of the ball. Stanley’s T-style offenses at Vilonia featured misdirection plays and lifted the Eagles to contender status for several years in the tough 5A-West Conference. Stanley will also be the head boys’ track coach at JHS.

Gentry also joins the JHS football staff, bringing more than 40 years of high school and college coaching experience in Arkansas and Texas.

Earlier this week, it was announced that Whitney Abdullah would take over the girls’ varsity volleyball program and Stephanie Nation would run the ninth-grade team.

It was also announced that Tirrell Brown would assist Lantrip with ninth-grade football before going back to North Pulaski to assist Roy Jackson with the North Pulaski basketball program.

That leaves only the Jacksonville Middle School head boys’ basketball and assistant football position to be filled. Josh Nation is the head JMS football coach and will assist the new basketball coach.

“My goal for football is to have four coaches at every program,” Wilson said. “We get two for middle school and I’m going to try to get two volunteers. We have two for ninth grade and I’m going to try to get two volunteers. We’re starting basically from scratch here and I don’t want to leave these kids shortchanged by not having enough coaches for them. We’ve been lucky enough to have some people who have been helping us out the last couple of years, and I think we’re going to be able to keep that going.”

The JHS varsity football team will have six paid coaches, Hickingbotham and five assistants – defensive coordinator Brian McDermott, Burrows, Wilson, Stanley and Gentry.