When the Pea Ridge coaching position opened in January, Stephen Neal took the advice of one of Arkansas’ greatest high school coaches.
Neal received a phone call from former Bentonville coach and Arkansas Sports Hall of Famer Barry Lunney, who told him how ecstatic he was about the Blackhawks program and the job that former coach Tony Travis had done.
It was enough for Neal to move from one of Oklahoma’s powerhouse football programs at Tulsa Union to Pea Ridge, a Class 4A school 35 miles north of Fayetteville.
Pea Ridge hired Neal in March, and the Oklahoma native has the Blackhawks (13-1) in the Class 4A state championship game for the first time, facing Warren (14-0) on Friday night at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.
“This window opened,” Neal said. “If you’re supposed to do something and you’re supposed to go somewhere, you have a…