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Abshier wins NFHS Coaches' award

Prairie Grove coach piloted program’s turnaround

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Photographs by Democrat-Gazette file photo

Prairie Grove football coach Danny Abshier is shown in this file photo.

After a season when his team was supposed to be in rebuilding mode, Prairie Grove football coach Danny Abshier has been named the National Federation of State High School Coaches Association's Southwest Section Coach of the Year.

Abshier guided the Tigers to the 4A-1 Conference title, an undefeated regular season and state semifinals appearance this past fall with a 12-1 record. In 2015, Abshier led a senior-laden Tigers team to the state championship game and earned many statewide coaching awards in the process.

The NFHS's Southwest Section is Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, and Abshier is a candidate for national coach of the year as well.

"I thought it was on the state level at first, so I thought that was pretty cool," Abshier said. "But wait, it's a regional deal, so I was like, 'Wow, this is a pretty big deal,' and I feel greatly honored and humbled.

"It's a testament to the kids and the coaches around me because they've done a great job. That's the way I feel. It's got my name on it, but it's a honor for a lot people, a lot of people in Prairie Grove."

Abshier has posted a 178-100-2 record since taking over as head coach in 1990. The Tigers have missed the state playoffs only once since 1996 and have won four of the past five conference championships. Prior to becoming head coach, he spent three seasons as a defensive coordinator under Mark Mallett and helped begin a turnaround of a program that had such a long losing streak in the mid-1980s it was named one of 10 worst programs in the nation by USA Today.

"Those teams had a different head coach every year, and it kinda spiraled downhill," Abshier said. "They probably should have fired me after the first couple of years, but they were smart enough that they realized changing coaches is harmful to the program. After a couple of years, all the sudden we made the playoffs and started doing it every year."

Sports on 04/13/2017

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