Pike Road must replace three head coaches

Pike Road is searching for a new girls' basketball coach to replace Courtney Ward, left, less than three months after Ward led the Patriots to their first-ever appearance in the state tournament.

While the coronavirus pandemic has brought to a halt many of the River Region’s sports programs, that hasn’t been the case at Pike Road High School, where the departure and resignation of several high profile coaches has caused a turnover in the coaching staff.

Head football coach Patrick Browning just completed the hiring of three assistants, replacing former offensive coordinator Blake Boren and his father, offensive line coach Charlie Boren. The elder Boren, a former head football coach at Faulkner University, also served as the school’s athletic director.

In his place, Pike Road principal David Sikes named Browning and volleyball coach Joi Washington as co-athletic directors.

“She’s had some experience with this in the past,” Sikes said. “They’re splitting duties. Browning has a couple of areas like fundraising and branding and she has facilities and they’re splitting eligibility down the middle.”

The Patriots are also in the midst of replacing three head coaches.

Sikes said girls’ basketball coach Courtney Ward turned in her resignation less than three months after leading the Patriots to their first-ever state tournament appearance. Pike Road (26-5) reached the Southeast Regional finals in their first season under Ward in 2019, then won the regional with a win over Montgomery Academy in February, advancing to the 3A state semifinals before losing to Pisgah 72-58.

“She just resigned,” Sikes said. “She sent in a letter of resignation. I really haven’t talked to her since it happened. I could speculate but I would rather not.”

Sikes said Ward will continue to serve the school in her capacity as a security officer.

“I love her to death,” he said. “She’s still working as our SRO (school resource officer) and is still here in Pike Road. She’s a great lady who did an outstanding job for us and continues to do an outstanding job in her role now. She’s a class person and I wish her well if she decides to coach again.”

Sikes said on Tuesday afternoon he expected Ward’s replacement would be named at the next Pike Road board of education meeting on June 22.

“They did some interviews last week and probably by the next board meeting they’ll have somebody in mind,” he said.

The board will have to vote on a new softball coach as well to replace Brooke Watson. Watson guided the Patriots to a 17-17 record in her first season despite not having a field for practice or games. Pike Road won the 3A Area 5 tournament championship in 2019 and reached the semifinals of the 3A East Central Regional, losing to state qualifiers Prattville Christian and Hale County.

“She resigned,” Sikes said. “She did a good job for us and was a class girl for us. It just happened on Monday so I haven’t had a chance to ask her what her plans are. By the next board meeting, we’ll probably have somebody. They will have had interviews and picked out (somebody).”

In addition, the board will have to vote on a new baseball coach to replace Skipper Jones, who announced his retirement after guiding the Patriots through the first two years of the program’s existence.

Jones, like Watson, organized the Patriot baseball team despite not having a field for practice or games. Pike Road went 2-19 its first season and had made marked improvement this year when the pandemic suspended play in mid-March. Sikes said Browning and Washington will conduct interviews next week for the baseball vacancy.