Former Batesville head football coach Dave King passes the headset to Ryan Morrow
BATESVILLE, Ark. (KAIT) - For the first time in 26 years, Batesville football has a new head coach. Dave King stepped down as the Pioneer head coach in April. He’ll pass the headset off to Ryan Morrow, who played under him in high school and coached with him for the past four years.
“It’s kind of one of those calls that I’ve been thinking about for a long time,” Morrow said
For Morrow, Batesville is in his blood. He was born and raised there. He was a part of the 2003 State Championship team that kickstarted an era of deep runs in the playoffs over the next decade, including a period of three more state championship appearances, and a streak of eight straight years of making it to at least the state semifinals.
“It was a great run,” King said. “But at the end of the day, what makes it special is the people.”
Dave King: Best satisfaction I get is the fact that all these men wanted to come back and they played in this program, wanted to come back and lead the young men that we have come through Batesville now. It’s time for these young guys to ride. It’s time for them to have their time and I feel 100 percent confidence in them and they’re gonna do a fantastic job.
Morrow is one of several former Pioneers who played under King to follow in his footsteps. Several staff members on the team also were Pioneer alums.
King says it’s their time to shine now.
“The best satisfaction I get is the fact that all these men wanted to come back and they played in this program, wanted to come back and lead the young men that we have come through Batesville now,” King said. “It’s time for these young guys to ride. It’s time for them to have their time and I feel 100 percent confidence in them and they’re gonna do a fantastic job.”
Morrow graduated from Batesville in 2006. The tight end played at the college level at Henderson State, then decided he wanted to follow in Coach King’s footsteps as a coach.
He was an offensive line coach under Danny Brustrom at Cedar Ridge. Then, he was part of the football staff when Lyon re-launched its football program in 2015.
But there was only one place he saw himself long-term.
“I told Coach [King] whenever I was in college that I would coach anywhere, but there’s only one place that I wanted to coach and that was here at home at Batesville,” he said.
After seeing the first full Lyon football class graduate, Morrow became an assistant at Batesville High. When Coach King stepped down after 26 years, Morrow took the reins.
“He’s gone from being my coach to being my mentor to being my friend,” Morrow said. “He’s always going to be there for me, I know it. If I call him and say ‘hey coach, can you come down here and check this out?’ I know he’ll be there in a minute. I know he’s behind me 1,000 percent.”
Even though the coach will be different, the identity of Batesville football will stay the same.
“The attitude of pioneer football is not going to change with me it’s gonna be the same as it was with Coach King,” Morrow said. “We’re gonna be hard working and we’re gonna be first class. There’s first class and no class and we’re gonna be first class around here.”
“I feel good about where it’s at,” King added. “I feel good about Ryan taking over the reins. And again, I know he’s gonna have the same pride that I had in this program as a head coach, and it’s been an honor and a privilege for me to be the head coach here for the last 26 years and I hope he’s here 26 years and has even more success than we’ve had in 26 years.”
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