Chris Hill is back in high school football.
Hill was hired as Sylvan Hills’ new coach Friday, the Pulaski County Special School District announced in a news release.
High school football coaching changes
SCHOOL;NEW COACH;PREVIOUS COACH
Alma;Rusty Bush;Doug Loughridge
Bauxite;Caleb Perry;Daryl Patton
Booneville;Doc Crowley;Scott Hyatt
Cross County;Cody Goulart;Tommy Wells
Danville;Drew Smyly;D.J. Crane
De Queen;Brad Chesshir;Stephen Sloan
Fountain Lake;Kenny Shelton;Kenny Shelton*
Greenwood;Chris Young;Rick Jones
Heber Springs;Todd Wood;Will Cox*
Jacksonville;Maurice Moody;Jordan Johnston*
Lincoln;Reed Mendoza;Don Harrison
LR Hall;Jim Withrow;Kipchoge VanHoose
LR Southwest;Daryl Patton;NA^
Magazine;Ryan Chambers;Doug Powell
Mountain Home;Steve Ary;Bryan Mattox
North Little Rock;TBA;Jamie Mitchell
Prescott;Brian Glass;Tommy Poole
Sylvan Hills;Chris Hill;Jim Withrow
Trumann;Randy Phillips;Craig Green
Waldron;Doug Powell;Jonathan Bates
*Interim coach in 2019 ^New school in 2020
NOTE Send any news/additions to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Bears plucked Hill, 53, from Harding University, where he was the offensive coordinator the past three seasons.
“We wanted to get someone who will change the culture of our football program,” Sylvan Hills Principal Tracy Allen said. “Coach Hill checks all of the boxes.”
Sylvan Hills will be Hill’s seventh high school position in the state. He takes over for Jim Withrow, who resigned in February after 13 seasons to take the head coaching position at Little Rock Hall.
Hill was 62-15 in six seasons at Wynne (2011-16). He led the Yellowjackets to the Class 5A state championship game twice, losing each time to Pulaski Academy (2014, 2016).
Harding went 30-9 in Hill’s three seasons as an assistant coach. The Bisons advanced to the NCAA Division II semifinals in 2017 and also made the playoffs the past two seasons.
While Hill enjoyed coaching in college, he was ready to get back to high school football.
“I’m a high school football coach,” Hill said. “I coached with some great guys [at Harding]. But there’s something about a Friday night when a school rallies around their team.”
Allen said Hill’s resume was an impressive one for him, Athletic Director Denny Tipton and the school’s hiring committee.
“He’s got a proven track record,” Allen said. “As offensive coordinator at Harding, they won every year. At Wynne, they were in a downtick when he got there. He changed them quickly.
“No one can debate that the guy is a winner.”
The Harding graduate has also coached at Horatio (1997-98), Stamps (1998-99), Morrilton (2003-05), Van Buren (2006-07), Ashdown (2008-09) and Bossier City (La.) Parkway (2010).
During his time at Wynne and Harding, Hill ran the triple-option offense. Whether he’ll continue to run it at Sylvan Hills remains to be seen, he said.
“I’ll look at our kids,” Hill said. “I think the triple option does give you an advantage. But I want to give our kids the best chance to score points.
“Bottom line, we want to have one more point than the other team does when the horn sounds.”
Allen said Sylvan Hills had 39 coaches apply for the position with Hill one of four finalists.
Sylvan Hills currently has six assistant coaches on the football staff. Allen said Hill will be able to hire two more assistants.
The Bears will have a new indoor facility, which is scheduled to open May 1.
“That facility is going to help us going forward,” Allen said. “They will be hitting it hard. We’re just waiting to get the all clear.”
The coronavirus pandemic is forcing Hill to make adjustments as to how he’ll meet his new team. Allen said that Hill will be having video conferences with players. There is a possibility, Allen said, that spring football may be canceled because of the pandemic, which has forced schools across the state to be closed until April 17 thanks to Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s ruling Thursday.
Hill said it’s a situation he’s never had to deal with in 29 years as a football coach.
“I may tell our coaches, we need to have three plans in place,” Hill said. “A plan if school comes back before June, a plan for school in June and a plan for July or August.”
Sylvan Hills finished 4-7 in 2019, one year after reaching the Class 6A semifinals. Hill said he is looking forward to leading the Bears.
“They have some athletes,” Hill said. “Football is important to the community [in Sherwood]. They have the athletes to compete in 6A. I want to try to develop and build on what Coach Withrow did and put a good product on the field.”
Sports on 03/21/2020