Fans of high school sports will need a refresher course when games eventually resume.
At last check, over 30 football coaches have changed jobs in Arkansas and there's been even more movement in other sports since the end of the school year. I'll have to remind myself, for instance, Kim Dameron is now the head football coach at Fort Smith Southside. He replaces Jeff Williams, who left for Pea Ridge after Stephen Neal decided to return to Oklahoma to accept a coaching job.
Oh, and I certainly look forward to welcoming those who are beginning their coaching careers, like former Arkansas quarterbacks Ryan Mallett, who is now an assistant at Mountain Home, and Ty Storey, who'll coach football and basketball at the new Grimsley Junior High in Centerton.
Good luck to all in their new positions.
Some of the biggest changes are at Farmington, where Brad Blew retired after 34 years as a teacher, coach and athletic director last winter. Farmington didn't take long in promoting boys basketball coach Beau Thompson to fill the vacancy. Thompson had been boys basketball coach for 15 years at Farmington, which hosted the Class 5A state basketball tournament in March.
"I've been blessed to work with many great people at Farmington the last 15 years," Thompson said. "I'm looking forward to going to work and building upon all the amazing things people like Brad Blew and (former school superintendent) Bryan Law have built. Many thanks to incoming superintendent John Laffoon for believing in my vision for Farmington athletics. Great things are in store with him at the helm."
A week after Thompson was officially hired, the Farmington School Board accepted Laffoon's recommendation to hire Johnny Taylor as the boys basketball coach. Taylor coached the previous two years at Star City, the same place Laffoon worked before he was hired in March to replace Law.
Taylor, 42, has been a head coach at a handful of high schools in Arkansas, including Weiner, where he led the Cardinals to a Class 1A state championship with a 39-7 record in 2003. He led Rose Bud to a Class 3A boys state championship with a 36-0 record in 2008.
"I started my [coaching] career as a Weiner Cardinal, and I want to end it as a Farmington Cardinal," Taylor said.
Taylor was obviously attracted by massive improvements at Farmington, which has built a new high school, a new basketball arena, and a new football stadium that was completed just last summer. But Taylor mentioned something I hadn't even thought about during a phone conversation we had the day after he was hired at Farmington.
He talked about a theme song, which he first heard at Merle Massey gymnasium before Farmington basketball teams moved into Cardinal Arena.
"When I coached at Siloam Springs, I remember being in that old gym when they turned out the lights and played the Chicago Bulls' them song (Sirius) while introducing their lineup," Taylor said. "I had chills just watching that. It was awesome. Anyone who watched 'The Last Dance' (documentary) about Michael Jordan knows that song."
Thompson said the theme song will continue when the Cardinals and Lady Cardinals go dancing this fall.
Our refresher course for high school sports will include many of the changes teams will make beginning in August because of reclassification. Southside, for instance, will move back into the 7A-West Conference while Northside remains in the 7A-Central Conference. That means the two Fort Smith schools won't be in the same conference for the first time since 1980.
Pea Ridge will bump up to Class 5A and play in the same 5A-West Conference as Farmington for football. Lincoln drops down from 4A to 3A and Van Buren will finally have a fighting chance again in football by dropping from 7A to 6A.
All these changes should make for an interesting season in high school sports when, and if, some form of normalcy returns.
Wear a mask.