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Harding alum Darrick Ware returns to Arkansas for first head-coaching job

Ware takes over at Harrisburg after serving as a longtime prep assistant in Texas.

By Kyle Sutherland 

Harrisburg began the search for the school’s new head football coach in late February after Aaron Thornton resigned from the position, along with being athletic director, to become AD and assistant principal at Greene County Tech.

The Hornets eventually hired Texas high school football offensive assistant Darrick Ware, who will also coach track for the Hornets. He established himself on that front as well, having produced four Texas state champions.

In his most recent job at McKinney Christian Academy, where he spent the past three seasons as offensive coordinator and assistant head coach, Ware orchestrated the No. 1 offense in the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS), scoring more than 40 points per game in 2020.

An Oregon native, Ware is no stranger to the state of Arkansas as he played his college football at Harding under Randy Tribble from 2003-06 before beginning his coaching career with a brief stint in Tennessee.

After 14 years in the Texas ranks, Ware and his family decided it was time for a change of scenery. He began looking elsewhere and came across a position just 25 minutes south of Jonesboro.

“We were just looking to move out to the country, maybe get some land in Arkansas and saw that Harrisburg was open,” Ware said. “My wife actually texted me about the job, I applied for it and got it.”

Along with helping kids thrive athletically, Ware also knows the importance of developing them psychologically. He along with his friend and mentor, Shawn Copeland, co-authored A Football Journey, a curriculum that has helped thousands of coaches and athletes across the country and even made its way to Canada.

It was during a conversation while driving home from a football game one night that the idea first came about to create some sort of plan to help guide athletes as they continue to grow.

“The goal of coaching is to make an impact on a kid’s life,” Ware said. “One of our kids did not play in the game because he got in trouble at school. We were looking at each other talking like ‘Man, how could he have done that?’

“I then realized I had never told him not to do that. We assume these kids know how to make great decisions and do the right things because it is common sense to us. Unfortunately, our culture often tells them to do the opposite.”

That conversation led to the duo writing out a four-year lesson course so that each year brings something new and is not a repeat of what has already been taught. It was initially something that was used within their team at McKinney High, but they decided to make it available for everyone.

Though Harrisburg had fallen on tough times for eight seasons after winning 30 games from 2008-10, Ware will inherit a firm foundation to work with as the team has clinched a playoff berth for the past three seasons.

“I am just blown away with what a great community [Harrisburg] is,” Ware said. “I can’t wait to really get involved with growing those kids into awesome men and watching them graduate high school, then going out and using the things they have learned through football to make a huge difference in the world.”