By Kyle Sutherland
Crossett didn’t have to look far to find the school’s next athletic director and head football coach, as current defensive coordinator Vincent Newton was promoted from within to take on those roles.
Newton spent the past two seasons as the Eagles’ defensive coordinator and helped lead them to the Class 4A quarterfinals the past two seasons.
Newton graduated from Crossett in 2008 and was hired by Billy Elmore in Stuttgart to be a football assistant and baseball head coach after graduating from the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff in 2013. Elmore left Stuttgart to West Memphis in 2014 and Newton decided to pursue other opportunities in central Arkansas.
After spending a year coaching college football at Maumelle and Bryant, Newton took a job in North Little Rock on the high school team under then head coach Jamie Mitchell as a outside linebacker coach and ninth-year defensive coordinator. It was around this time that he felt the vision for his coaching career was beginning to take shape. North Little Rock went 12-1 that season and advanced to the 7A state championship game.
“It was really the year where the trajectory and what my goals were as a football coach,” Newton said.
After that season, Newton reunited with Elmore in West Memphis, where he remained from 2017 to 2019. The Blue Devils reached the semifinals in each of those seasons and won an undefeated conference championship in 2018, the defense allowing only 12 points per game.
Newton mentioned that the 2019 season was probably his most enjoyable year of his coaching career, in part due to his promotion to co-defensive coordinator. The other part was that West Memphis had gotten most of the talent from the previous year and started slow, but managed to turn things around after a few tweaks.
“We started 2-4 and Coach Elmore came in and said we were going to make some changes,” Newton said. “We made changes to what we were doing in attack and defense and then we jumped five times in a row [wins] and finished second in the conference, then reached the semifinals.
An opportunity to come home and be a defensive coordinator at Crossett came before the 2020-21 school year and it was something Newton couldn’t turn down.
” It’s at my house ; my parents are here,” Newton said. “I took this opportunity to come home and lead our children. It was really a good decision for me. This has been the biggest growth I’ve had in being able to take on more responsibility and step into this leadership role.
After leading the Eagles for the 2021 season, head coach Shawn Jackson resigned on April 22 to take a job in Michigan to be closer to his family, and the following Wednesday Newton was offered to take next generation as sporting director and head football coach. It’s been a whirlwind of emotions for Newton since then, but he’s enjoying the process.
“It was a great feeling, but for me it hasn’t settled in yet,” Newton said. “I’ve been busy the last few days, so I kind of started running.”
There’s enough responsibility as a football head coach, let alone a sporting director, but Newton understands that it’s all part of the plan that was offered to him as someone who once thought he would eventually become baseball coach.
“I’m extremely humble. Some people have the opportunity to progress, and they get big-headed or get more arrogant,” Newton added. “I don’t see it that way. changes throughout the athletic department, especially through the football program, and I can give back to the community through our youth.