Long rumored and talked about, the Dothan City Schools finally made the decision in late November to combine Dothan High School and Northview High School into one school.
For many years, there had been talk around the city that the two schools might find more happiness, particularly athletic success, if they combined into one school. Northview was created in 1978, and won two state football championships in the 1980’s under Coach Harry Wayne Parrish. But in ther last 20 years, the Cougars have had only two winning seasons.
In the same 20 year time period, Dothan High School had seven winning seasons, but failed to win a playoff game. Their last playoff victory was 1992. Northview last won a playoff game on November 25, 1994, when the Cougars defeated Vigor 26-23. That’s 25 years without a playoff win for either school.
But it was other school decisions that led to the merger. A number of magnet schools were closed, upsetting many in the Dothan community.
In late January, it was announced that the school would be named Dothan High School, the mascot the Wolves, and the colors would be cardinal and black with an accent of gold. A committee of students helped make the decisions. A few days later, Coach Smitty Grider of Hazel Green was selected to be the new head football coach.
Grider was Park Crossing’s first head coach in 2014 when they began their football program. “When you’re looking at the opportunity to combine two schools and start something new- something that can be special-it’s always a draw for a coach,” Grider said after being hired. “It was a difficult decision to leave Hazel Green, but I couldn’t pass by this chance to be a part of something so special.”
Grider led Park Crossing to a 38-9 overall mark, including going 13-1 in 2016, reaching the state semi finals. In 2017, Park Crossing was 10-2. His only season at Hazel Green resulted in a 4-7 mark. His overall head coaching record in 111-49.
“I’ve had interest in being in Dothan in the past, so when this happened I think I was probably one of the first ones to get their applications in,” Grider said. “I’ve played or coached against Dothan and Northview the better part of my career and so I’ve spent a lot of time in the town. I love south Alabama and thought that it would be a great place for my family.”
Grider must now pull the two schools together. Grades 10-12 will be at the Northview campus. No decision has been announced about the future of former Northview head coach Josh Parrish and former Dothan High head coach Wayne White, who was in just his first year as head coach. Parrish had just finished his second season with the Cougars.
Grider has to form a staff, order new uniforms and figure out the logistics of combining two teams into one. “The biggest thing, I think, is everybody’s got to get on the same page. There are people who are still not in, and are still upset about it, and that is understandable.”
The Wolves will play the 2019 season in 6A, but will move to 7A in 2020 as possibly the third largest school in the state.