Start of a new era

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 12, 2010

For a third-straight year, there will be a new head coach patrolling the sidelines at Bulldog Stadium.

However, that streak may be over.

When Pike County Superintendent Mark Bazzell was searching for a new head football coach for Pike County High School early this year, he did not have to look to far down the road – just down to Ozark at Carroll High School.

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Since he was hired back in February, Robert Johnson said he has been busy with the transition process from Carroll to PCHS to go along with moving and other family activities.

But that has not taken away from his dedication to keeping the winning tradition at PCHS alive and well.

“I’m excited about the opportunity,” Johnson said Wednesday morning.

“Pike County has a great tradition of winning and I am going to work extra hard to make sure that tradition continues.

“It’s not going to be easy at first, but this is something I am committed to working at,” he said.

This will be Johnson’s third stop in his coaching career, with the first two taking place at St. James and Carroll.

During those 13 years, the new Bulldog head coach has accumulated an 81-62 overall record.

Johnson is replacing Eddie Stephenson, who led the Bulldogs to a 9-1 record last season and region title, before leaving for Class 6A Alma Bryant.

The two coaches faced off against one another in last year’s season opener, with PCHS getting the narrow 19-18 victory over the then Johnson led Cardinals.

While Johnson is bringing in new systems to PCHS, they will be ones that are similar to what the Bulldogs were running last year.

PCHS ran a hybrid wing-T offense last year, with Johnson implementing a spread wing-T offense this season.

While the coach said the terminology is different, the players have responded well.

“There are some changes,” Johnson said.

“It’s a new system for the offense and the defense, but so far the players have been attentive and have showed a willingness to work and get better.

“There are going to be some ups and downs but everyone has responded well so far,” the coach said.

Along with the new face on the sideline, there will be new faces on the field as well.

Two of the big offensive contributors for the Bulldogs in 2009 were quarterback Josh Parker and running back Marquavous Knox, both of whom were seniors. Now, Johnson has to find new offensive player makers for the Bulldogs.

“Those are two huge holes,” the coach said. “Josh Parker was a very special kind of player last year.”

“Right now, we have Marlon Meadows and Jerrelle Bailey competing for the quarterback position and both have performed well so far.”

“(For the running back position) we are looking at doing it by committee. Tyshin Dawson, Jacquez Walker and Jacory Townsend have all played really well so far and we hope they continue to do so,” the coach said.

With any new job, come new hurdles, but the coach said he is very thankful to be in this position.

“I have been blessed to get this opportunity,” Johnson said. “And I want to do my very best. “

“I can’t control what people might say or think. But what I can control is the team and everyone on this team will be dedicated to winning and keeping this tradition alive.”