Thursday, December 6, 2007

Timing works out for Bearden coach

Timing works out for Bearden coach

Posted on Thursday, December 6, 2007


Bearden Coach Mike Cox waited a long time to make a good first impression.

Cox will lead the top-ranked Bears (13-0 ) into Saturday’s Class 2 A state championship game against Mount Ida only two years removed from trying to shake a junior high coaching tag.

In this case, the third time wasn’t the charm for Cox, 45, who had spent almost two decades coaching in Camden.

Cox said he applied four times for the Bearden job before being hired before the 2006 season.

“I’ve been turned down about 20 times for jobs,” said Cox, a 1980 Camden Fairview graduate. “I was turned down at Hampton three times. Almost every school in our conference [7-2 A East ] I’ve applied for I never got a chance to coach there. I applied at Fairview three times. I think I got kind of labeled as a lifetime junior high coach.”

Cox did spend seven years as a high school assistant at Fairview in the 1990 s, but he mostly cut his teeth as the junior high coach there and in Camden’s pee-wee program.

Cox’s resume included an unbeaten season at Fairview in 2004, a team featuring heavyweight talent like DeAnthony Curtis, Jim Youngblood and Lavunce Askew.

Fairview’s junior high team was winless in 2005, the same season Bearden finished 2-7 under Vince Perrin.

When Perrin bolted after one season to become defensive coordinator at Alma, the door — finally — was open for Cox’s first head coaching job.

“The year I was 9-0 in junior high, I applied for several jobs and didn’t get any of them,” Cox said. “After I was 0-8 in junior high, I get the Bearden job.”

Asked what pushed him over the top, Cox said Bearden “was looking for some stability.”

It’s been a nearly perfect fit so far.

Cox is 25-2 at Bearden, including 12-2 last fall. Bearden was eliminated in the Class 2 A semifinals at Jessieville.

This season, Bearden has held the state’s top ranking in Class 2 A throughout the season in pursuit of its first state championship recognized by the Arkansas Activities Association.

“Good schemes on offense and defense, good assistant coaches, good players,” Cox said of Bearden’s formula for success. “You can have the best race car driver in the world, but if his car’s not very good then he’s not going to be very good. We’ve got some good talent.”

After Jessieville beat Bearden 28-12 in last year’s semifinals, Lions Coach Don Phillips said he believed the Bears “were fixing to go on a run.”

And the man who waited so long for his first head coaching job plans to be around to see it.

“You see all these guys that went all over the place coaching and they come right back home,” said Cox, whose son, Robby, is a starting tight end / defensive end for Bearden. “I really don’t have much desire to move. I like to stay around my family. A lot of people have been asking me if I’m leaving after this year.

“ I play a little poker. I know not to fold a winning hand.”

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