The Sparta Bulldogs program thought it had a new coach hired back during the summer when Dan DeWerff from West Frankfort had made a commitment to the school.
But just a few weeks later, DeWerff ended up taking a job at his high school Alma-mater in Nokomis, which left Sparta in a dire need.
Jon Horton, a former player for Sparta and junior high coach, has stepped in to a program that saw its club finish 8-22 last season, 1-9 in the Mississippi Division.
They were “one and done” in the regional at home with a loss to Du Quoin.
Coach Norton lost several seniors to graduation but has five kids remaining from last year to begin with.
Drew Byington, a 5-foot-10 guard, is a senior leader for Coach Norton. Having good guard play is essential and he has another one with experience in 5-foot-10 John Williams.
Five-foot-eleven senior Bryan Lowery returns as the Bulldogs will likely begin with a three-guard setup.
Up front Sparta will have 6-foot-3 senior Nasuer Hobbs and 6-foot-4 junior Jacob Soderland.
After those five, tryouts and wind sprints will likely determine the rest of the roster.
“I'm very excited to be taking over the program. I played at Sparta under Ed Belva and we won 19-games and got to a regional championship game,” said Coach Norton. “I hope to lead the program in a positive direction.”
N27-D2 Trico "Pioneer Invitational" Tournament J26 Pinckneyville


@ Pinckneyville J27 Marissa-Coulterville
D15 Nashville F2 @ Nashville
D16 Murphysboro F3 @ Steeleville
D19 Du Quoin F9 @ Du Quoin
D26-29 Freeburg/Columbia Holiday Tournament F10 Carterville
J5 @ Carterville F13 @ Okawville
J6 @ West Frankfort F16 @ Anna-Jonesboro
J12 Anna-Jonesboro F17 Chester
J16-20 Sparta "Mid-Winter Classic" F19-23 IHSA Regional TBD