Posted 3 days ago ⋅ 2017-02-17 15:43:24

Jeff Weaver was ready for a different challenge, and he'll get one with a defending state champion.

Weaver, who has been at Little Rock Christian since 2013, was hired as Russellville's head football coach Thursday night in a unanimous vote at a special school board meeting. He takes over for Billy Dawson, who was hired at Fayetteville last month.

In eight seasons as a head coach, Weaver was 49-43 at Mena (2009-2012) and Little Rock Christian (2013-2016). He led Mena to three playoff appearances, including a Class 4A quarterfinal appearance in 2010. At Little Rock Christian, Weaver guided the Warriors to the 5A-West Conference championship in 2015. The team finished 12-1 with a berth in the Class 5A semifinals with running back Damarea Crockett, who is now at Missouri.

Mena and Little Rock Christian were both in rebuilding mode when Weaver arrived at those schools. At Russellville, which won the Class 6A state championship last season, it's a different situation, Weaver admitted.

"I'm very proud what we were able to accomplish at those places," Weaver said of Mena and Little Rock Christian. "But to go into a place that has already put a lot of foundation down is exciting.

"I know there are expectations at Russellville. We're excited for the challenge."

Weaver, 46, is a 1988 graduate of Greenwood and was an assistant coach for 11 seasons under Ronnie Peacock, Harv Welch and current head Coach Rick Jones.

Russellville Athletic Director Johnny Johnson said he prefers to hire coaches with head coaching experience. Weaver has that, plus a solid background at Greenwood, one of the state's best football programs, Johnson said.

"He knows the recipe to build a program," Johnson said.

Russellville is building a new indoor practice facility, and Johnson said the support from the community and the football program's booster club has been important to the rise of the Cyclones.

"Russellville is a location that a lot of coaches want to be a part of," Johnson said. "We're very blessed."

Weaver is the fourth head coaching hire this offseason in the 6A-West Conference. Texarkana hired Texarkana, Texas, Coach Barry Norton last month. Sheridan brought in former Russellville offensive coordinator Lance Parker, and Fountain Lake's Tommy Gilleran went to Lake Hamilton on Tuesday.

"We're going to roll up our sleeves and take the challenge head on," Weaver said.

Sports on 02/17/2017

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