After one season on the sideline in his return as Junction City’s football coach, David Carpenter is stepping down.
Carpenter confirmed on Thursday that he was stepping down in a text message to the News-Times, but declined to comment further on the matter.
Junction City Athletic Director Kendall Hutcheson said Carpenter’s stepping down concerns family obligations.
“Coach Carpenter is taking care of family stuff. He still loves coaching and loves doing all of that, but with family obligations, it was going to be hard for him to be at practices all the time,” Hutcheson said.
“He didn’t think it was right for him to have to miss some practices and not be there. He didn’t think it would look very good for the head coach to not be there all the time, so he thought it was better if we found someone else who could be there and make it everything they needed to focus on more than he could right now.”
The Dragons went 4-6 in 2022 after seeing their season end with a loss at Booneville in the first round of the 3A playoffs.
Carpenter, who guided Junction City to six state championships, retired at the end of the 2016 season, but returned to the post last year.
A member of the Arkansas High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Carpenter has a record of 246-99-1.
Hutcheson said the search for a new coach has already begun.
“We’ve started searching for a new coach,” Hutcheson said. “I believe we opened the position up on Wednesday and started accepting applications and resumes for that. As far as the day to day program, the rest of the staff is still here, and they’re running the offseason program.”
Hutcheson said there isn’t a firm timeline to have a new coach in place, but he is hoping to move quickly.
“The plan is to make sure we have a new coach in place here, I will say fairly shortly, but we’re actively looking,” Hutcheson said. “When we feel like we’ve got a good pool of candidates, then we’ll interview from that and we’ll form a committee to look at that and to help the hiring process and make sure we get the best person we can.”
Hutcheson said he wants someone that will put the players first, and he hopes that whoever gets the job will want to stay in Junction City.
“The first thing that we’re looking for is someone who is going to put the kids first,” Hutcheson said. “We have great kids here. They’re going to work hard. We want a coach that’s going to put the kids first. Of course, we would like to find a coach who wants to be here and be here for a while and not be here for a minute.
“Junction City has never really been a stepping stone in the past, mainly due to coach Carpenter and the fact he’s been the head coach for so many years, but we don’t want to turn into that and be hiring a new coach every two years.
“That’s not something that’s beneficial for the kids or the school. We also want a coach that’s going to put education up there and make sure that the kids are working hard on both sides of the street and doing what they need to there.
“Whether that person is a former graduate or is not even from around here, that really is not a huge concern there. Whoever the person that is the best fit for the job and we feel like is the best option, that’s what we’re going to go with.”
Hutcheson thanked Carpenter for the work he has done at Junction City.
“Coach Carpenter, we’re always going to be talking to him and seeking his advice, and he’s always going to be a valuable member of the school and community,” Hutcheson said. “We thank him for everything he’s done for us, but we also understand why he made the decision he made.”