SP Coaching Changes

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 9, 2012

South Panola loses three coaches, but reclaims one

By Angie Ledbetter

South Panola is seeing the exodus of three assistant football coaches this month, who all took head coaching positions and the return of a former coach.

In late breaking news Thursday afternoon, news leaked and was confirmed by Tiger head football coach Lance Pogue that Trey Dickerson was returning as offensive coordinator.

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Dickerson head coached Hattiesburg last season to a 6-6 record and a playoff appearance.

Eddie Maxon was selected to head coach the 2-6A Greenville-Wesson program. Eric Rice and Jamie Easley are becoming head coaches for the first time.

Rice is taking over the job in Ashland which combines Hickory Flats and Ashland in an independent program. Easley is leaving the state for Red Bay, Ala.

This time of the year many coaches take other jobs for various reasons but for three to leave a national champion program at one time is unusual, according to South Panola head coach Lance Pogue.

“I don’t know of anybody that’s really ever experienced losing three coaches at one time in high school that I know of especially at the same time and to get head coaching jobs.”
Pogue is proud of the coaches because of the great opportunity they have.

“It’s tough to see them go but I’m proud for all three of them,” he said. “I’ve been an assistant coach before and if you get into this business and your motivation isn’t to be a head coach then you’re probably in it for the wrong thing. I know all three of them are ready to be and it’ll be fun watching them and keeping up with them. These guys started here with me in 2008, been a part of two state championships and a national championship.”

“It’s a loss for our program because we had so much stability with them but at the same time that’s the way it goes with this business. We’ve got to find a way to keep moving forward.”

That all three left for head coaching jobs speaks volumes about the program and the shape it’s in, according to Pogue.

Pogue reminisced about each coach.

“I hired Maxon late in the summer of 2008 and he hit the ground running and coached our defensive line. He did an exceptional job with all those guys for four years. I’m probably leaving some out. He’s a great guy who relates to kids and did a heck of a job here for us and being an every day presence of leadership for us.”

Under Maxon’s tutelage Devin Clark, Issac Gross and Temario Strong signed with Division 1 schools.

“Rice has done a heck of a job here for us coaching tight ends and fullbacks for four years. I think he’s more than ready for it and he’ll be a guy that’ll relate to the kids. He’s got a great personality and a lot of positive leadership so he’ll do a good job with it,” Pogue said.

“Easley came in basically at the same time as Rice and Maxon. He hit the ground running also coaching the defensive backs.  He’s going to do well because he understands what he’s getting into.”

Pogue said these assistant coaches are ready for the next coaching level in their careers.

“Those guys are hungry and they’ve learned so much here on how we do things and will do well,” Pogue said.

Pogue said it will be tough on him to see them go because they are close like a family.

“We’ve been through a lot of battles together, good and bad,” he said. “One thing I can say about all three of them is they’re truly into it for the benefit of the kids.”

With spring practice starting in a little over a month, Pogue is concerned with these three leaving and with Mark Weaver who is recuperating following surgery.

“Along with those three we’ve had Weaver out who had surgery. He’s been a big part of this program for 18 years with three different head coaches here so he’s stood the test of time,” Pogue said. “We’ve all been praying for him and looking forward to him getting back with us soon.”

Though not easy, replacing football coaches is not new for Pogue.

“We’ve got a little time here but it’s not my first time for this and it’s not a fun time,” he said. “I’ve been doing this for a long time so I think I’m well prepared for it. We’ll find the right coaches that fit our program and get them in here as soon as we can. We’re not going to make a rush decision because we want to make the right hires but with the right guys. We want to try to keep our program going at a high level.”

Pogue said it is important to get coaches here for spring practice but there is plenty of help with the Batesville Jr. High coaches.

“You’ve got guys like Trey Higdon, Artee Smith, Gary Sims and Thomas Pipkin who can help and fill in just in case but I feel like we’re going to be able to get some guys up here and get started.”

Pogue said he is going after the best and has begun the process already.

“I’m going to take it slow but at the same time I’m going to do my homework. It takes a special guy to fit in here with us because our expectation level is championship caliber.

“We have a lot riding with 18 or 19 starters back a year ago and our goal every year is to win a state championship,” Pogue added. “We’ve had a top notch staff and that’s pretty well been proven with these guys going and being head coaches.”

Maxon accepts 6A head coach position in Greenville

By Angie Ledbetter

The Greenville-Wesson board of trustees met early Monday morning to select South Panola assistant coach Eddie Maxon as the new head coach football coach for the coming season.
Maxon coached the defensive line for four years.

He was defensive line coach at Greenville High School in 2004 and coached Coahoma County High School for three years after that.

Maxon is leaving this championship program to take on a challenge.

“Greenville Wesson is the biggest school in the Mississippi Delta and the only 6A.  It’s also the third to fifth largest school in Mississippi that has athletes like South Panola. It’s a gold mine there waiting and a lot of people say it can’t be done but I’m looking for a challenge.”

The challenge was too tempting to pass up for Maxon.

Maxon will be at South Panola until March 30.

Rice takes Benton County job

By Angie Ledbetter

South Panola assistant coach Eric Rice landed a head coaching job in Benton County where they’re combining Hickory Flats and Ashland to start a football program.

Rice coached tightends and fullbacks at South Panola for the past four years and has been a part of three state championship games.

The football facility is in Ashland so the players from Hickory Flat will be bussed there, according to Rice.

“This will actually be their second season playing football as an independent program and they’ll remain independent in the upcoming season.”

Rice’s goal has always been to be a head football coach.

“It was an opportunity for me to go and actually build a program where everything will be my idea and the way I envision doing it so I couldn’t pass it up.”

On another note Rice said it is very difficult to leave South Panola.

“It’s very difficult to leave a program with a winning tradition that we’ve had here with the athletes,” he said.

Easley adjusts plans and takes Red Bay offer to head coach

By Angie Ledbetter

South Panola assistant coach Jamie Easley said he never thought he’d ever leave South Panola.

 “Once my wife and I made the move here, we planned on being here forever because the community is great, the kids are great and winning is unbelievable and I like to win,” Easley said. “But some things have transpired here inside the school system that’s made me question that.”

Easley has been at South Panola for four years as the defensive backs coach and took a head coaching job at 2A Red Bay, Ala.

Red Bay has had its highs and lows, Easley said, but went 9-2 and made it to the second round of playoffs last year.

“They have most of their returning starters coming back,” said Easley. “They’ve never won a state championship and I did my home work calling around but everyone told me I couldn’t win a championship there. Every time they told me that it made me realize that’s where I wanted to go. I want to prove them wrong.”

Easley struggled to describe how hard it was for him to leave.

“It’s unbelievable hard,” he said. “It’s a two-sided fence because I’m excited for me and my family to move on in another chapter in our lives but I honestly never thought there was another chapter in my life besides South Panola football. It pains us to leave.”

Easley taught his last day at South Panola yesterday.