OHS begins search for new basketball coach

On the Mark By D. Mark Mitchell

John Wadsworth resigned as head basketball coach and math teacher at Opelika High School last Tuesday.

Wadsworth, who spent 15 years at OHS coaching and teaching algebra, accepted a job at Enterprise High School. He will teach math and be the top varsity assistant basketball coach.

The decision was a surprise to many, but Wadsworth decided it was time for a change midway through the season. He interviewed for the position in early February but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the hire.

Wadsworth was officially approved by the Enterprise City School Board last Tuesday.

The Wildcats are coached by Rhett Harrelson, an Enterprise alum.

“I am extremely pleased to have John and his family in Enterprise. I’m a young head coach and have a seasoned veteran head coach sitting beside me on the bench. I look forward to learning from Coach Wadsworth,” Harrelson said.

Coach Wadsworth started as an assistant coach at Opelika before taking over as head coach 13 years ago.

He abruptly resigned prior to the start of the 2011-12 season after finding out his mother in North Carolina was terminally ill. Following her passing, Wadsworth was hired back in 2012.

The Bulldogs won more than 180 games in 12 years under Wadsworth. His teams made the playoffs nine seasons, won seven area titles, made the regional finals multiple times and had a winning record over rival Auburn.

I wish John, Daniele (Dr. Wadsworth) Brady, Tucker (twins) and Beth Ann the very best in Enterprise! The OHS basketball program is in good shape. The administration will be looking for a new basketball coach.

It will be interesting to see who OCS hires as the new head coach. It is worth mentioning, Opelika has one African-American head coach at OHS. Lewis Washington was the last minority head basketball coach. I believe you should always hire the best person for the job, regardless of race. Hopefully the administration will have several applications from quality coaches to chose from. Time will tell.


Last week AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese held a teleconference with his Medical Advisory Board members Dr. James Robinson, Dr. Jeff Dugas, State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey and Assistant Superintendent Terry Roller.

The group met to discuss the future of athletics with the looming effects of COVID-19.

Mackey announced that schools can reopen campuses on June 8 for groups of 10 at a time.

The committee group is in the process of creating broad-based health guidelines that will be released close to May 22. The Alabama Department of Education is working with five other states to come up with the best “road map” for best practices to start school in late August.

The AHSAA said all summer mandatory practices are prohibited. Weightlifting, conditioning, individual skill development and workouts are under the jurisdiction of local schools.

The schools must follow all health guidelines, which includes physical distancing, group activities based on square footage, respiratory coverings, sanitizing equipment, hand washing etc.

The guidelines will be recommendations and left up to the school to implement and regulate.

The board canceled all summer competition except for school camps.  Schools should provide accommodations for students at risk or do feel comfortable or feel it’s not safe to return.

The AHSAA will send another update May 22.


Opelika’s Jeff Hilyer will be inducted in the Alabama Sports Officials Foundation Hall of Fame. The Opelika native joins 11 others that will be inducted in the 2020 Class.

Hilyer’s career has spanned 40 years and counting. He started officiating youth sports before starting the Big East Officials Association in Phenix City and was named Official of the Year by the AHSAA.

Hilyer served as a board member for the National Federation of High School Sports (NFHS), elected President 2000-2001 and served on the Rules Committee for four years.

He has officiated for the SEC, Gulf South Conference and Sun Belt Conference. He moved off the field one year to serve as a replay official for the Sun Belt.

Hilyer serves as the head of the AHSSA review officials for Super 7.

He resides in Opelika and continues to officiate high school and youth athletics.

Congratulations Jeff!


The Opelika Parks and Recreation are planning to offer Dixie Boys Baseball for ages 13 to 15 years old. Registration is set to open May 25 at the Opelika SportsPlex. The cost is $45 if you live in Opelika and $50 if you live outside the city limits.

Registration covers your cap and jersey. All players will be on a team.

We are waiting on Gov. Kay Ivey to lift more sanctions and allow baseball.

For more information, contact Missy Martin at 334-705-5560 or D.Mark Mitchell by phone at  334-787-1514 or email at foxonthemark@yahoo.com.

Mitchell is the local sports director for iHeart Media and serves as the vice president of the A-O Sports Council.


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