Jesse Crawford Leaving Knox County R-I District
By David Sharp
A desire to be closer to family and friends
in Central Illinois has led Knox County High School head baseball and
basketball coach Jesse Crawford to resign his KCHS teaching and coaching
positions effective at the close of the current school year.
The Knox County R-I board of education
accepted Coach Crawford’s resignation in the Executive Session portion of the
March 16, 2010 board meeting. High school principal Mr. Andy Turgeon declined
comment citing the 72 hour law, prohibiting district administrators and staff
from commenting on Executive Session actions for 72 hours from the meeting
Mr. Turgeon told the Edina Sentinel that he
would comment for the district on Monday, March 22. Jesse Crawford was one of
the most successful boy’s basketball coaches in school history.
Mr. Crawford came to the Knox County R-I
district in 2005 after graduating from Western Illinois University at Macomb.
Jesse Crawford pitched three years for Illinois Central College and one year
for the Leathernecks.
“When I came here, I made the commitment
that I wanted to see at least one class make it all the way through,” said
Jesse Crawford. “When I started coaching, the seniors we have right now were
“I have got to see the program develop full
circle in the four years I have been here,” said Coach Crawford of the Eagle
boy’s basketball program. Knox County won an average of eight games per year
for a period spanning the mid 1990’s until 2006. The Eagles had their first
.500 season in several seasons during the 2006-07 campaign.
The Eagles beat Westran at Moberly Area
Community College in 2008, winning their first boy’s district basketball
championship since 1971. Knox County beat Marceline in their home gym for their
2009 Class 2 district title.
Knox County R-I has won district or
regional boy’s basketball championships in 1965, 1971, 2008 and 2009. Knox
County won 68 varsity basketball contests during Jesse Crawford’s tenure.
Jesse Crawford was the KHQA and Quincy
Herald-Whig area boy’s Coach of the Year in 2008. He was the Kirksville Daily
Express boys’ Coach of the Year in 2008 and 2009. Mr. Crawford coached the
Missouri team during the 2008 McDonald’s Quincy Herald-Whig Classic.
He was the Northeast Missouri Sportswriters
and Sportscasters Association Class 2 boy’s Coach of the Year in 2008. Knox
County won the Tri-Rivers Conference baseball championship in 2008. Crawford
was the Conference Coach of the Year, and coached the East All Stars at the
Missouri Baseball Coaches Association Class 1 all star game at St. Louis.
Jesse Crawford stated to the Edina Sentinel
that he has not signed a teaching contract for the 2010-11 school year at this
time. “I just felt like this was the time to make the move,” Jesse Crawford
said. “It was a tough decision. I wrestled around with it. After the season I
went home and talked to my parents about it.”
“Being away from your family that long, and
not having the support network close makes it tough.” Jesse Crawford grew up in
the Pekin, Illinois area.
“My time here has been wonderful. I have
enjoyed the community, the people here. It’s been a great run for five years.
We had a lot of success on the baseball field and basketball court.”
The 2009 Eagle baseball season (4-13) was
the only losing record of any Jesse Crawford head coached team. Every other
club was .500 or better. “I felt like I have been connected to the kids. That’s
going to be the toughest part, saying good bye to the friendships and some of
the families you have came in contact with.”
“Overall it’s been a great experience,”
said Jesse Crawford. “It’s been a great ride. You hate to see it come to an
end. I hope I can find success at another high school in Central Illinois where
I am from. If I end up at Knox County, or cross paths with them in the future
it would be great.”
Jesse Crawford was an assistant football
coach, leading the Eagle defense during their 2009 District Championship season.
“It’s tough to leave my relationship with (KCHS head football) Coach (Steve)
Ramer and (John) Weaver,” said Jesse Crawford.
Knox County senior Tristan Lonberger has
been part of the four year run of boy’s baseball and basketball success.
“Coach Crawford is one of the best coaches
to ever come to Knox County,” said Tristan Lonberger. “He is like a father
figure to most of the seniors around here. We look up to him in every way
possible. He has helped this school’s program.”
“He brought a whole different look to
basketball around here,” said the 2010 all conference guard. “Our basketball
team wasn’t much until he came around. He worked with what he had and got one
of the greatest (Knox County) basketball teams ever.’
“I just want to thank everyone,” said Jesse
Crawford. “I never looked at this place as a stepping stone. If I could move
this place two hours to the East, I would never leave.”