By D. Mark Mitchell

sports columnist

Opelika High School Principal Dr. Farrell Seymore announced that Billy Jones has been removed from the position of head baseball coach. The school system never makes comments about personnel decisions.
Seymore echoed that in his comments. “We (OCS) do not discuss personnel moves publicly or privately; this was a personnel move,” said Seymore.
The administration applauded Coach Jones’ two year tenure, “Billy did a great job as baseball coach. We appreciate his hard work and what we were able to accomplish on and off the field,” Seymore added.
The administration is in the process of getting a coach in place.
Seymore wants to insure Opelika fans understand baseball is as important as any other sport.  The administration will post the job opening soon for applicants. “We want the best coach possible with a good knowledge of the game. We want to continue to compete against anyone in the state. As always, we want a head coach who is student-centered,” said Seymore.
Jones has been a teacher and coach for the OCS for 19 years. He has coached at OMS and OHS, serving as assistant football and baseball coach before being hired as head baseball coach two years ago. His teams compiled a 57-20 record, advancing the third round of the AHSAA 6A state baseball playoffs this past season. Jones will continue to teach in the OCS.
I want to thank Coach Jones for his hard work with our program and wish him nothing but the best in the future.
In keeping with the importance of getting someone in place quickly to manage the day-to-day operations of the baseball program, on July 22,
Opelika High School announced Rick Wade as interim head baseball coach.
Wade served as assistant coach under Billy Jones for the past two years. Coach Wade also has experience as a head baseball coach.
He was Robert E Lee’s head baseball coach for seven years under then-athelitic director Spence McCracken. Wade left Lee for Sylacauga where he coached and led their program for two years. Central Coosa then hired Wade as head football and baseball coach for two years. Wade left there for Beauregard to be assistant baseball and football coach.
Opelika hired Wade two years ago to lead the Fellowship of Athletes, and serve as assistant football and baseball coach. Coach Wade has compiled a 325-110 record as a head baseball coach.
I want to assure all Opelika fans that the administration will hire the best possible person for the head baseball position. I understand the questions and concerns about the move and the baseball program. Trust the Opelika School System administration. Dr. Neighbors and Seymore work hard for our school system. Each takes his job seriously and puts the students first.
Seymore will open the permanent job up for applications soon. Opelika will hire the best person/coach available to be the next head baseball coach.
The football team won the Fellowship of Athletes seven-on-seven football tournament last week at the Opelika Sportsplex. The Dawgs are 24-4 in 7-on-7 competitions this summer. I know it’s a large scale version of touch football and, when the season starts August 21 in Tuscaloosa, no one will talk about 7-on-7. However, the competitions allow the quarterbacks and receivers to work on timing and the defensive backs to work on their skills.
Let’s hope the competitions help Opelika have a great season.
The AHSAA mandates student-athletes have this week off due to All-Star week in Montgomery. Every sport has a North -South game or match this week. Opelika’s Jaylen Snipes will play in the all-star basketball game and Chris Manley played in the baseball game.
The football team will resume workouts and prepare for fall practice next week.
Opelika High season tickets will go on sale in August. Current season ticket holders can purchase season tickets August 10-14, 3:45-6 pm in the lobby of the Opelika Performing Arts Center. Season ticket swap day will be August 17, 3;45-5:30 pm. New season tickets can be purchased Tuesday Aug 18, 3:45-5:30 pm in the OPAC Lobby.
The Opelika Dixie Youth OZONE All-Star team finished 2 and 2 in the state tournament this week. Among the wins was a big one over Auburn Blue.
Congratulations Opelika Dixie Youth Ozone All-Stars!
D.Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys State director and vice president of the  A-O Sports Council.