Josh Floyd sent waves through the Arkansas prep football world last week, resigning at power program Shiloh Christian to take the Hewitt-Trussville head coaching job in the Birmingham, Alabama area.
Floyd is the latest coach to guide the Saints to dominance, and as the school conducts a quick nationwide search, I’m sure the opening has caused many Arkansas coaches to pause even with the late timing.
With the tradition the Saints have as well as the facilities and resources, it has to be considered one of the better jobs in the state. That made me wonder what are The Top 10 prep football jobs in Arkansas? Here is that list.
This list is based on a school’s tradition, financial support, commitment to winning, facilities, pay and responsibilities other than coaching football.
1. Bentonville — Currently the Tigers have the best mix of top-flight facilities, talent, support and numbers that would allow most coaches a chance to win a state title yearly. However, Bentonville may not be on top long as the district is gaining another high school in 2016. The addition of Springdale Har-Ber in 2006 proved catastrophic to the Springdale High School football program, which had been one of the better teams in the nation in 2005. Something will have to give in Bentonville, but for now, with three state titles since 2008, Barry Lunney’s job is a coveted one.
2. Greenwood — There may not be a community that supports a program more than Greenwood. The faculties and resources have allowed coaches to enjoy success through the years, and current coach Rick Jones (119-17), one of the better coaches in the country, has taken full advantage. Kids grow up wanting to play football and for a town its size, the program has great numbers and depth that has allowed it to flourish in Class 6A playing in a conference dominated by 7A schools. Greenwood, who had its 50-game winning streak snapped last season, has won seven state titles since 2000 and owns a 45-17 playoff mark.
3. Fayetteville — Unlike Bentonville and Springdale Fayetteville has resisted the split of two schools and reaps the rewards. A large student body filled with athletes has helped Daryl Patton (93-38-2) guide the Bulldogs to three state titles in since 2007 while competing against Bentonville and other solid programs in the 7A-West. The job got even a little better with the recent hiring of athletic director Steve Janski, the former Heber Springs head coach and East Carolina assistant coach. Janski brings great leadership to the position and understands what resources are needed to produce winning teams yearly.
4. North Little Rock — It’s the same scenario as Fayetteville with a large town and one high school, but the population is even greater than Fayetteville but unfortunately the Charging Wildcats have less recent titles. Still, NLR, who last won a state title in 1972, has had success under coach Brad Bolding (53-28), and there isn’t a team in the state with the athletic talent to choose from. Bolding says at least four players on his current roster will sign FBS scholarships. The program enjoys a great equipment contract, is building a new stadium, receives great support from the administration and has oodles of talent. A new state-of-the-art school building should attract even more students. The next step is winning titles with all of the pieces are in place.
5. El Dorado — Scott Reed proved even the best situation requires the right coach. Reed (72-20) took a lifeless program and built it into a winner with four state titles since 2009. The Wildcats hadn’t won a state title since 1958. He got the talented, young players to buy into his system and regained the interest of the boosters. That recipe has made El Dorado into one of the more dominant programs in the state, and that isn’t going to change with Reed at the helm. There could be some question of what might happen if Reed left, but it appears things are in place for whoever guides this program.
6. Pulaski Academy — Little Rock’s elite private school has turned into a juggernaut over the past decade with innovative offensive mind Kevin Kelley (125-23-1) at the helm. He has taken advantage of resources that include using technology to game plan as well as the commitment from dedicated parents who are set on seeing their kids win championships. Kelley has changed the culture at PA, who has won three state titles since 2003, and has a staff that compares to any in the state at any level. The program has achieved national exposure for not punting and onside kicking and that has only helped his program’s profile in the metro area.
7. Har-Ber — After serving as the offensive coordinator for the famed 2005 Springdale High School team, Wood started the Wildcats program in 2006. After taking some initial lumps, Har-Ber is now “the football school” in Springdale School District, stealing some of the shine from Springdale High School’s proud tradition. Wood’s squad won the 2009 state title and has won two conference titles and boasts a 12-6 playoff record. Not bad for a start-up. The thing that holds the Wildcats back from being super elite is its facilities. It has to share worn down Jarrrell Williams Stadium with SHS. The Wildcats do have a recently built indoor practice facility which was a step in the right direction. While sharing and older stadium may be a sticking point among some coaches, it isn’t going to keep most from being extremely competitive with the glut of talent that has flocked to the school.
8. Conway — While Conway hasn’t won a state title since 1967, the conditions are more favorable than ever. The population of the city is exploding and has helped coaches choose from a large talent pool. Longtime coach Kenny Smith struggled near the end of his tenure winning a combined five games in 2008 and 2009, but Clint Ashcraft has opened up the offense and has won nine games twice in five seasons, as he has accumulated a 39-18 record. Conway is the dominant high school in a large town and enjoys good booster support. It was a hot job when Smith resigned five years ago and has only increased in value.
9. Pine Bluff — The Zebras have one of the richer prep football traditions in the state. Bobby Bolding (58-28) has revitalized the program after some down years in the mid-2000s. He helped build a new indoor practice facility and has gained as much support as possible in the cash-strapped town. While the school boasts a bumper crop of talent the down economy makes it difficult to support the program like it should be. Jordan Stadium is showing its age and needs to be updated. Bolding, who is also the school’s athletic director, has made the job a quality position again, but it may not be for every coach.
10. Shiloh Christian — Some coach is going to land in a nice situation. Years of constant winning has helped the private school attract some of Northwest Arkansas’ best football players. The support is also as good as a coach will find at any program in the state. Floyd finished his 10-year tenure with a 99-29-1 record, and his teams won four state championships. It is apparent the move to 5A hasn’t been an easy one for the smallish private school. They didn’t make the transition near as well as PA has, but they also had to enter the cycle after losing several four-year starters that had left gaping holes. However, as Shiloh cycles back to Class 4A this year, another coach will be able to capitalize on Floyd’s achievements .
The Best Coaching Jobs by Class
7A — Bentonville
6A — Greenwood
5A — Pulaski Academy
4A — Shiloh Chrisitan
3A — Charleston
2A — Junction City