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Football: Clark named new EHS coach, replaces Hampton

  • Joe Clark, an assistant with the Eldorado High School football program since 2008, was named new head coach by a 7-0 vote in Tuesday night's school board meeting.

    Joe Clark, an assistant with the Eldorado High School football program since 2008, was named new head coach by a 7-0 vote in Tuesday night's school board meeting.

updated: 4/28/2017 12:03 AM

The only thing that will likely change for Joe Clark will be his perspective of the game.

Clark, 38, who has been Brandon's Hampton's right hand man since 2008, was voted 7-0 at Tuesday night's school board meeting to become Eldorado's new head football coach.

Clark joked with a heavy heart, he'll have to leave that press box seat in the bleachers for one with a more up close view on the sidelines, but also in a more serious tone, a somber feeling that he'll lead a program minus Hamtpon, who announced his resignation on April 18th to become a defensive coordinator for 4A Paris, Texas High School.

"It's a unique emotion, because I'm excited for the opportunity to serve, but at the same time, I have a heavy heart because of how the position came open. I can't say enough about coach Hampton and not only what he has done for me as a coach, but as a person. We have grown up together most of our lives, high school, college and professional, but this is a challenge I am ready to accept.

"I'm ready to get to work. I love these kids and there are a lot of expectations because of what we have been able to accomplish here. I'm ready to compete for another conference championship and while it's going to be a challenge, it's one I'm looking forward to."

Clark graduated from Eldorado in 1997 and went on to play football at McKendree University, where he graduated in 2001.

Following graduation, Clark spent five years at Carlyle High School, where he was an assistant to then coach Joe Wilkerson for two years before being named the head coach, where he stayed on for three more years before returning to Eldorado in 2006.

Clark then served as an assistant at Massac County for one season before returning to EHS in 2008, where he has been ever since.

Clark was part of the rebuilding process at Eldorado under Hampton where the Eagles went a combined 2-16 in the first two years before EHS qualified for the first of six playoff appearances in the 2010-11 season, going 5-5. The last two years, Eldorado has gone 18-3, which included a playoff win in the first round against a non-Black Diamond Conference opponent for the first time since 2009.

In addition to football, Clark was also an assistant to then baseball head coach Billy Tippett until 2012 and Tippett was head boys' basketball coach for one season (2013-14) replacing T.J. Zurliene.

It's Clark's background and pedigree that leaves EHS athletic director Greg Goodley with little doubt that he was the right guy for the job.

"It's a great opportunity for Joe," Goodley said Tuesday night. "No. 1, being an athlete that's played here and coached multiple sports here, he's a guy that has been invested in our programs. He's going to coach with passion and he's going to work hard at it.

"I hate to see Brandon leave, but I understand when you get an opportunity, you have to take it while it is there, but I'm also partial to guys like Joe, Brandon and Josh (Bradley) because they all played for me and as a former coach I appreciate how hard they work at it. Joe will do a great job and I'm just excited to see him get the opportunity in his home town."

Hampton,  echoed many of Goodley's sentiments about the kind of coach Clark is.

"Joe was the best coach on our staff and he was a huge part of our success. He's a great assistant and will be a life-long best friend. Eldorado is lucky to have him, he's going to be a great head coach.

Eldorado likely returns five to six starters on both sides of the ball, but also lost a core of seniors that over their three years of varsity competition, set the tone for what the EHS football program is today.

"One of the things I will take with me and it's an imprint left by Brandon is the success we have had recycles itself by the kids' expectations," Clarks said. "A lot of it in the beginning was coach driven and lately it's been player driven. Our players understand the commitment and dedication it takes and I'll expect nothing less.

"I wouldn't be in the position I'm in if it wasn't for Brandon," Clark said. "That much needs to be said. I've grown as a coach in the nine years as an assistant and without me learning from him, I wouldn't have this opportunity. I'm super grateful and at the same time, a little sad."

Michael Dann covers prep and college sports for the Harrisburg Daily Register and Eldorado Daily Journal. Follow him on Twitter: @spydieshooter.