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Joe B. Stewart named new Fayetteville Rockets basketball head coach

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Joe B. Stewart is pictured during his tenure as McClain head coach. (HCP Photos/Stephen Forsha)
Stephen Forsha, The Highland County Press

Joe B. Stewart is now a “Rocket Man,” so to speak, as he has been named the new varsity boys basketball head coach for the Fayetteville Rockets. Thursday evening saw the Fayetteville-Perry Board of Education approve the recommendation of Superintendent Tim Carlier. 

Stewart has ties to Highland County, as he was previously the head coach for Hillsboro and McClain, where at Hillsboro he won multiple conference championships, and most recently at McClain his team in the 2021-22 season won a Frontier Athletic Conference championship and a district championship. While also at McClain, Stewart was OPSWA SE District Coach of the Year on two occasions in four seasons. 

Stewart — a 1982 Wilmington College graduate — first was a head coach at Piketon from 1982-86, and followed that with coaching stints at Miami Trace (’86-87), Hillsboro (’87-90), Chillicothe (’90-99), Southern State Community College (2000-03), Hillsboro (’03-07), Edgewood (’13-15), Madison-Plains (’15-18) and McClain (‘18-22).

The Rockets finished their most recent season 13-11 overall and 7-6 in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference (tied for second place in SHAC Div. II). Stewart replaces former head coach DJ McCommons, who resigned this offseason.

Below is the full release and statement of Stewart being named the new Fayetteville head coach, as provided by Coach Stewart:

On Thursday evening (April 18), the Fayetteville-Perry Board of Education approved the recommendation of superintendent Tim Carlier hiring Joe B. Stewart as the Rockets’ next varsity boys head basketball coach.

Stewart, a veteran coach who began his career at Piketon High School in 1982, has been inducted into the District 14 Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2014 and the Highland County Athletic Hall of Fame in 2018.

Most recently, Stewart served a four-year tenure (2018-22) at his alma mater, McClain, where his first Tiger team finished 15-8, ending a string of 11 straight losing seasons, and his last won the school’s first Frontier Athletic Conference championship and first district championship in 15 years. In two of his four years, Stewart was recognized as Southeast District Div. II Coach of the Year by the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association.

Highlights of Coach Stewart’s 31 seasons as a head coach have included taking four schools from last-place league finishes to conference or tournament titles; 376 wins; and 11 championship seasons. He has been chosen as Associated Press Ohio Div. II Coach of the Year in 1989, leading Hillsboro to their only undefeated regular season, and five times selected as Southeast District Coach of the Year (Piketon, 1986; Hillsboro, 1989; Chillicothe, 1993; McClain 2018, 2022). Nineteen of his former assistants or players have become head basketball coaches.

“It is an honor to be supported by Superintendent Carlier, whom I have regarded very highly for many years,” Stewart said. “His vision for the role of athletics to develop leaders, workers and build unity in the community matches my own and my experience.

“We plan to build a program here where our guys learn core values that will help them succeed on and off the court. What they become is more important than what they achieve. We want to inspire people to ‘Deserve Victory Daily,’ shared lifetime memories when things go well, but exhibit character when things do not go our way that will represent our school and community in a class manner.

“My time with Mr. Carlier, Principal Wallace and Athletic Director Tyler Kingus has convinced me that we all share the goal of athletics as a curriculum leading toward success and significance,” Stewart continued. “I am really anxious to get started working with our players and building relationships in this community.”

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