BY THE NUMBERS
Alvin Tarver’s season by season Howard record
2009 : 2-8
2008 : 9-2
2007 : 8-3
2006 : 7-4
2005 : 5-5
When Alvin Tarver took over a struggling Howard football program his plan was to rebuild it and move on within five years. It took him one more season than he planned, but after one of the most successful coaching stints in Howard history, the 55-year old Tarver stepped down Wednesday.
The program had gone 5-16 the two seasons before Tarver’s hiring, but he won five games his first season and followed that with three years in which the Hustlin’ Tigers went a combined 24-9. Injuries to several key starters led to a 2-8 record in 2009, the only losing season in Tarver’s career. Howard rebounded to finish 8-3 last season, with its only regular-season losses coming to region champion Tyner and seven-time defending state champ Alcoa before losing by six to Loudon in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs.
“When I first got the job I said I wanted to try and revitalize the program and bring pride back,” Tarver said. “I felt I could get it done in that five-year time frame and the only reason I stayed this last year is because we went 2-8 in 2009. There was no way in the world I was going to leave the program like that. But we came back with a vengeance last year to get the program back to respectability.
“It was extremely tough for me to make this decision. But that’s part of life, making tough decisions and moving on. Football is a big part of my life but it’s not my life. My parents are still alive but I only get to see them about four times a year because of how busy my schedule has been with coaching. I want to spend some quality family time with them, plus be able to do some things that I’ve wanted to for myself but couldn’t.”
Tarver said he plans to continue teaching personal finance and physical education at the school and will be part of the selection committee for a new coach but will not return to the sideline in any capacity next season.
“It’s going to take a tough-minded person to coach here,” Tarver said. “I want somebody to come in with a special love for these kids and not just be here for the paycheck. I’d like to thank Derrick Davis at Polk County and Wayne Turner at Tyner because I have the utmost respect for those two coaches and appreciate how they helped me as a coach.
“My concern now is other programs in the city coming to recruit these kids at Howard. That was part of my job here before, keeping other coaches from stealing our better players and gutting this program. I’m going to be very vocal about that and making sure I do whatever is necessary to prevent that from happening even though I’m not the coach here now.”
Known as a strict disciplinarian, Tarver dismissed eight players from the team last year, including four starters, for not following team rules but still guided the Hustlin’ Tigers to their fourth playoff appearance in six years. Besides his 39-25 overall record, Tarver also had 13 players sign college scholarships during his tenure.
“What I’m most proud of is building boys into men,” Tarver said. “I didn’t want my kids to just play ball. I wanted them to do what they had to do here so they could go on to college and become productive citizens.”
Stephen has covered local sports in the tri-state area for more than 23 years, having been with the Times Free Press since its inception, and has been an assistant sports editor since 2005. Stephen is among the most decorated writers in the TFP’s newsroom, winning numerous state, regional and national writing awards, including nine in the last two years. He was named one of the top 10 sports writers in the nation at the Associated ...