The Conway School District took two coaches from Searcy’s 2019 5A state football championship staff Tuesday, officially hiring the head coach of that team, Mark Kelley, as offensive coordinator and also adding defensive assistant Lance Little.

The Conway School Board approved the hirings at its regular meeting.

Kelley was 44-17 in five years as the Lions’ head coach, making the state playoffs each year. His team wrapped up a 13-1 season in 2019 by beating Benton 28-27 at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock on Dec. 7 for its first football state title in the modern playoff era that began in the late 1960s.

Searcy’s title year wasn’t without some controversy as members of the team caused damage inside the home locker room during the championship game that amounted to $234.70, including $82.13 for damage to a water fountain, $52.57 for damaged ceiling tiles and $100 for damage to a folding table.

The Marion School District also filed a police report in late December stating 11 football helmets were discovered missing after Searcy’s road game Oct. 11. In January, five of those helmets were recovered in a parking lot in Searcy.

In his resignation letter, dated May 28, Kelley wrote that the Conway School District “has given me a letter of intent to hire, therefore I am resigning my teaching/coaching position with Searcy Schools effective at the end of my 2019/2020 contract.”

The Conway School District confirmed Wednesday that Kelley’s salary would be $63,820.

Little tendered his resignation last week, Searcy Superintendent Diane Barrett said.

Searcy Athletic Director Butch Schucker said concerning Kelley that “Conway is giving him an opportunity to be the [offensive] coordinator and hopefully work into the head coaching position down there.

“Coach Kelley has done a great job for us here,” Schucker said. “He’s won the last four years since I have been here. Coach Kelley has some quarterbacks that have some unbelievable passing yardage.”

Searcy averaged 309 yards per game last season and scored 44 points per game.

Conversely, the Wampus Cats registered just 27 total touchdowns in 2019, averaged 16.1 points per game and finished 8-4.

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