It’s been almost a month since Matt Middleton announced his decision to take the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach job at Southern Arkansas.
The decision left Cedar Creek High School in search of its next head football coach.
Since that time, the Board of Directors has seen a turnover at the top with Lomax Napper taking the place of Paul Riley, who announced his decision to step down as Board President on January 21.
From all indications, it’s Napper and the Board’s job to make the next hire with interim head of school Cindy Hampton concentrating on running Cedar Creek for the remainder of the 2021-22 school year … and quite possibly beyond.
There hasn’t been a lot of public noise surrounding the head coaching job in the last few weeks.
The Lincoln Parish Journal has learned that both Ruston High quarterback coach Steven Ensminger and Mike Collins, who served the past year as the defensive coordinator at Neville High School, were contacted about the opening.
Those same sources say that Collins request (pay and responsibilities) wasn’t on the same wavelength as the schools. Ensminger by all accounts is happy to remain at Ruston High. Coaching searches can turn on a dime so anything is possible, but it appears as though both of those candidates are out.
Where does that leave the search?
Candidates for the job would most likely come from one of two pools:
- A young up-and-comer that is either in the private school sector already or who hasn’t been in the state retirement system long
It would be hard to lure someone who has eight-plus years in the state retirement system to leave in favor of the private school system, unless the pay was significantly worth it. Ensminger would have fit this criteria.
- A more veteran coach who has already met retirement qualifications within the state system
This pool of candidates is already drawing retirement from the state and thus moving to the private school sector doesn’t have an affect on retirement. Collins would have fit this criteria.
There are plenty of qualified, quality coaches within the state and even the private school system. However, salary range could be the biggest factor in luring someone away from another school. Does Creek have the money to pull a successful head coach from another school?
Multiple sources also confirm that Creek defensive coordinator Mark Ware – who has done an impressive job with that responsibility with the Cougars – isn’t interested in assuming the head coaching role.
So where does that leave Creek?
Dan Childress’ name has been tossed around the Creek community since Middleton’s departure. Another plus is Childress’ wife Mary Bell is one of the top school administrators in the south.
A number of former Creek assistants that are coaching elsewhere have been mentioned.
It’s an important hire for both the Cougars program and the entire school. Stability is needed for a program that has a lot returning in 2022. The next coach needs to stay to build the program.
Whoever gets the job will inherit a talented roster that lost only three players off of this past year’s team that finished 6-4 with a historic win over Oak Grove and near misses against OCS, Jonesboro-Hodge and St. Frederick’s.
And with spring football approaching in a month or two, the Creek Board finds itself on the clock in a very important and possibly pivotal hire.
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