|Nick Smith, helping with Jackrabbits spring football practice, was hired as the new Junior Jackrabbits football coach this week. (Photo by Mark Buffalo)|
By Mark Buffalo
LONOKE — Nick Smith is the new Lonoke Junior Jackrabbits football coach.
Smith, 25, was hired by the Lonoke School Board on Wednesday night to replace Darrick Lowery, who resigned in the spring. Smith was coming off his first year at Lonoke as an assistant coach for the Junior Jackrabbits squad.
"It's an amazing opportunity," Smith said Thursday night. "Under the circumstances that the job came open, I wasn't expecting that. But once I saw that opportunity, I felt it was the Lord's Will telling me that I needed to jump on that. With my aspirations to be a head football coach, I know this will give me some really good experience."
Smith already has some head-coaching experience. Following Lowery's resignation as both junior high football and head baseball coach, Smith took over the reigns as baseball coach and led them to an appearance in the Class 4A state tournament.
Smith said he's bonded with the eighth graders this year after running the offseason program during the spring.
"I made a really good connection with them," he said. "The seventh graders went undefeated last season. I think they had seven or eight games. They are a good group that is moving up. The potential is there. We're looking to have a really good year in Jackrabbits football from seventh grade through senior high."
Smith will be assisted by Tyler Shaw, Chris Foor and Chris Bailey. Shaw and Bailey return this fall. Foor was hired as an assistant coach and head baseball coach Wednesday night.
"We're just looking to get these guys ready, to motivate them, get them in shape," Smith said, referring to his staff working with the players. "I know these guys [coaches] are going to work hard. We're really going to push those junior high kids."
Smith said he and his staff will do whatever the high school staff, including head coach Doug Bost and assistants Taggart Moore, Jack Keith and Tyler Tarrant, needs them to do.
"Whether is be water boy, taping ankles, up in the booth — we're going to do whatever we can to ensure that the senior high program has success. But we're going to attack that junior high season to go undefeated and win the conference championship."
Lonoke opens the season Sept. 1 at home against Beebe.
Smith is a 2009 graduate of Prescott High School. He earned a football scholarship to Arkansas Tech University in Russellville but decided to play at NCAA Division III East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, Texas. After one year of playing football, he transferred to Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, where he received his bachelor's degree. Smith also did an internship at Fountain Lake High School under coach Tommy Gilleran. Lonoke is his first full-time job.
Smith and his wife Trisha live in Lonoke.