By Ethan Colbert
The Clopton-Elsberry IndianHawks will play football in 2018, but as to who coaches the Eastern Missouri Conference football team remains to be seen.
During last Monday evening’s closed session meeting of the Pike County R-III School District, the Clopton School Board voted to extend a coaching contract to current head coach Mike Scheibel. The school board did not vote to extend the physical education teacher a teaching contract, according to Clopton Athletic Director Matt Cannon.
In a telephone interview with the Times, Scheibel said he was “blind sided” by the news.
“Both Larry (Lagemann) and Mark (Harvey) told me that they intended to hire me back,” Scheibel said. Lagemann is the principal at Clopton High School and Harvey serves as the Superintendent of Schools.
“Mark and I shook hands on it,” Scheibel said later. Both Lagemann and Harvey could not be reached for comment on this story.
Scheibel, who had been on staff at Clopton for the past five years, was laid off earlier this year due to budget cuts.
According to Scheibel, the administration of the school district told him it was their intent to recommend to the school board to hire him either as a physical education instructor or as a middle school science teacher.
Instead, the board voted to hire former Lindenwood University Coach Tony Francis for the physical education instructor. The board also voted to cut the middle school science position, a special education teacher position, and a business education position, according to Scheibel. “They hired him because its basketball and its Clopton,” Scheibel said when asked why he thought he was passed over for the position. “It is a mess over there at Clopton.”
Scheibel told the Times that he was “blind sided” by the news and that he had turned down other offers of employment because he believed that he would be hired back to teach and coach at Pike County’s rural school district.
He had even went so far as to schedule summer weight-lifting and to organize summer training camps for the football team, which last year posted a 2-7 record.
In his telephone interview, Scheibel said he anticipated that the IndianHawks would post a winning record and would have fielded a roster that included several all-conference caliber and all-state caliber players.
“I anticipated having a really successful year,” Scheibel said.
Yet, without a coaching and a teaching contract, Scheibel said he will not be returning to the hallways of the Clopton School District.
“I have contacted a couple of people at other schools in the area and looked into being an assistant coach or a special education teacher,” Scheibel said. He also said he may leave the education field all together given the turbulent year he has had at Pike County R-III.
In light of this decision, Scheibel wrote on the program’s Facebook page the following message to players: “I want to once again thank everyone for their support. I tried really hard to stay and be here for what I consider a great group of young men. I wish there was a way to stay. I love my boys. I wish Clopton the best. Until further notice, all Clopton side of football activities are suspended.”
According to Cannon, the Facebook post has led to several questions regarding the status of the football program.
“We are going to have a football team,” Cannon said. The Clopton-Elsberry IndianHawks are scheduled to begin their 2018 football campaign with a home game against the Duchesne Pioneers on August 24.
This point was reiterated by a subsequent Facebook post, which stated that the Clopton-Elsberry football program had not been cut, but was simply looking for a new head coach.
Cannon also said he has yet to receive a formal letter of resignation from Scheibel and therefore could not comment on the hiring process for a new coach.
Cannon declined to comment any further at this time.