When Jeff Williams decided to make the move from Fort Smith Southside to Pea Ridge, he knew what he was getting into but it’s still frustrating not even being able to meet his new players.
“That’s the weird part,” he told Derek Ruscin and Zach Arns (Ruscin & Zach) on ESPN Arkansas Tuesday afternoon. “Everybody’s going through this. From West Memphis to Warren, Arkansas, to Northwest Arkansas to Central Arkansas …. everybody’s in the same situation.”
Williams coached Southside for 15 years. He’s coached in four state championship games and won one, downing Rogers in 2007. Leaving wasn’t an easy decision for the coach that’s followed two Hall of Famers in Scooter Register at El Dorado, then Barry Lunney at Southside.
“You could just watch Pea Ridge over the last couple of years, just how the community has grown and how successful the football program’s been,” he said. “I’ve been at Southside for over 15 years and had a lot of great times and great memories. It wasn’t an easy decision. There’s a lot of great people in Fort Smith that I’ve been a part of for a long time.”
But he’s going to have to wait awhile just to actually get to meet his players.
“We’re going to go up and meet the coaches and see what they’ve been doing then try to set up some Zoom meetings, get familiar with the kids and where we need to put them,” he said. “Hopefully we can get started pretty soon. I’m hearing rumors here and there but until somebody gives us something definite we’re just waiting.”
But he’s been getting a plan together since before he got the job in Pea Ridge.
“I had sat down with the Southside staff and kinda had a plan if we get ’em back in June what we need to do, if we get ’em back in July this is what we need to do, if we get ’em back August 1 this is what we need to do and if we don’t get ’em back until the middle of August this is what we need to do,” Williams said.
“You gotta have a plan. Coaches are big planners. I’m an organized guy and you get your yearly plan, then a monthly plan, then a weekly plan, then a daily plan.”
That is what coaches tend to do.
“We’re all big planners and it’s about to drive everybody crazy,”. The No. 1 thing is to be safe. The worst thing that could happen is come back too early and this epidemic spikes back up and we’re back to ground zero.”
Most of the talk has been about colleges and pro sports getting back to business as usual, but this is not something high school coaches have seen, either.
“It’s kinda been mind-boggling,” Williams said. “I never thought it would get to this.
“The best thing you can do is prepare. You just kinda roll your sleeves up and go to work when they let us loose.”