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story.lead_photo.caption Sylvan Hills head coach Jim Withrow is shown in this file photo. (Special to the Democrat-Gazette/JIMMY JONES)

Sylvan Hills Coach Jim Withrow was hired Thursday as the new head football coach at Little Rock Hall.

Withrow, 50, had coached at Sylvan Hills since 2007, where he was 73-71 and led the Bears to the state playoffs 11 times, including the Class 6A semifinals in 2018. He also coached seven years at Mills from 2000-06.

Mitchell to coach Alabama school

Almost a month after leaving North Little Rock, Jamie Mitchell was hired Thursday as the new head football coach and athletic director at Shades Valley High School in Irondale, Ala., a suburb of Birmingham.

Mitchell, 53, was 53-12 in five seasons at North Little Rock from 2015-19. He led the Charging Wildcats to four consecutive Class 7A state championship games and won the 2017 Class 7A title.

Over 23 seasons as a head coach in Mississippi and Arkansas, Mitchell is 215-72.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Jan. 31 that Mitchell was leaving North Little Rock to pursue other coaching opportunities. North Little Rock posted its coaching vacancy Feb. 19.

Shades Valley went 3-7 in 2019 as a Class 6A school in Alabama.

— Jeremy Muck

Withrow credited Little Rock School District Superintendent Michael Poore's vision for the future of the district's athletic programs.

"He's trying to make it a great district," Withrow said. "He's doing whatever it takes to make the athletic programs better."

Withrow appreciated his time at Sylvan Hills and thanked Principal Tracy Allen and Athletic Director Denny Tipton. However, it was time for Withrow to move on, he said.

"I was ready for a little bit of a change, but I loved my time here at Sylvan Hills," Withrow said. "My kids grew up here. But it was time to do something different."

Johnny Key, the state Department of Education commissioner who serves in place of the Little Rock School District's school board, approved Withrow's hiring Thursday.

Effective for the 2020-21 school year, Hall will become Hall STEAM Magnet High School. STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts and math. Withrow said Thursday that he won't know how many players he'll have for the 2020 season until the school goes through its admissions process.

Little Rock School District Athletic Director John Daniels said Withrow's work at Mills and Sylvan Hills was key for him landing the Warriors' coaching position.

"He rebuilt Mills when they were down," Daniels said. "He's had a winning record at Sylvan Hills. He's been in the playoffs eight straight years."

Withrow knows he has a tough challenge ahead with Hall, which will drop to Class 5A from Class 6A for the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Under Kipchoge VanHoose, the Warriors went 2-8 last season. In addition, the Warriors have not had a winning season since 1993 and have not won a state championship since 1982 when they earned the then-AAAAA title.

"Once they realize they can compete, they're going to be okay," Withrow said. "That's the way it was at Mills. That first year, they had to win a little bit and compete. You have to get some breaks. By year two, we went into West Memphis and won.

"You have to teach them how to compete."

Sports on 02/28/2020

Print Headline: Withrow to lead Hall football program

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