By Pat Dailey (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
HOLLISTER — Mountain Grove head football coach Rich Adkins is leaving for the same job at Hollister.
Adkins was at Mountain Grove the past two seasons and posted an overall record of 17-7. The Panthers reached the Class 2, District 3 championship game in both 2016 and 2017, with an offense that averaged 36 points per game.
Mountain Grove lost to Mountain View-Liberty 26-25 in the 2016 Class 2 District 3 championship and fell to Ava 32-6 in the 2017 Class 2 District title tilt.
Adkins takes over a Tigers program that was 2-8 last fall and is two years removed from a single-season, school-record five wins two years ago.
Adkins also coached at Jasper and compiled a 32-12 record over three seasons. He led the Eagles to the Spring River Valley Conference championship in 2013 and 2014 and was named the 2013 Spring River Valley Coach of the Year.
He hopes his tenure at Hollister is similar to his experiences at Jasper.
“I enjoyed my time at Jasper. It was kind of a struggling program when I took over. I had a lot of good people and good families there and we were able to do some good things,” Adkins said. “Hollister reminds me of Jasper in some ways, only a little bigger school.
“There’s nowhere to go but up. We’re going to a tough conference (the Big 8 next school year). But it’s exciting. I feel it’s an opportunity to help put my stamp on what is going on at Hollister.
“I feel like Hollister is a place that is ready to take off and do some good things. It’s a place that really wants to win and put its football program on the map. They’ve got a good focus there on their youth sports programs and their junior high program. They’ve had success at those levels. We’re going to build off of that foundation. I’m ready to go down there and give it a shot.”
Adkins was able to go to Mountain Grove athletic director and boys basketball coach Duane Hiler for a review of Hollister. Hiler coached the Tigers in the 1990s.
“He had a good experience there and a lot of winning teams,” Adkins said. “He knows It’s a good place. I feel like it’s a good fit for my family and a good area to live.”
Adkins alerted Mountain Grove’s players Tuesday afternoon of his plans to leave.
“That’s the hardest part about this,” he said. “It’s a terrible feeling. It was a very difficult thing to do when I was at Jasper. I didn’t think I would ever have to go through that situation again. But we feel like this is a good opportunity for my family.”
Adkins, whose parents live in Springfield, played football as a prep at Webb City. He was also an assistant in football and basketball at his alma mater.
Adkins becomes the third coach in Hollister’s 10-year history on the gridiron. Kevin Roepke began the program and was succeeded by Jacob Hamon, who has been with the Tigers since their inception as a linebackers coach, defensive coordinator and head coach.
Hamon was hired as an assistant at his alma mater, Branson, last month.
Hamon was also Hollister’s defensive coordinator. Adkins plans to call Hollister’s offensive plays and will be looking for a new defensive coordinator in the coming weeks.