Heber Springs head football coach and athletic director Steve Janski was introduced as the new athletic director at Fayetteville on Thursday.

Heber Springs head football coach and athletic director Steve Janski was introduced as the new athletic director at Fayetteville last Thursday.

In nine years, Janski led a Panther football program once mired in frustration to new heights, guiding Heber to a record of 63-41 while reaching the state playoffs a school record seven consecutive seasons (2006-12).

The Panthers advanced to the 4A state quarterfinals three times under Janski. In 2011, Heber won its first conference championship since 1979, finishing the regular season with a perfect record of 10-0.

"It will have been 10 years this February that I have been in Heber Springs," said Janski. "My time there has not only been unbelievable for me and my family, but it's been a blessing not just with the success we had, but the kids I have been able to come in contact with and the staff and the administration.

"Without a doubt the reputation that has been built over the past 10 years made its way up to northwest Arkansas and the high regard they have for our program at Heber Springs. We strive to do things the right way. To hear them talk about that and to know that was a big part of their decision making process makes me extremely proud," added Janski.

A graduate of the University of Arkansas, where he coached as an undergraduate under former coaches Danny Ford and Houston Nutt, Janski said it's tough to leave Heber, but he is excited about the new opportunity.

"This is the first time in 10 years that I have applied for another job," said Janski. "Heber Springs is a great place to be when it comes to raising your family. I spent eight years up here [Fayetteville] as an undergrad at the University of Arkansas and coached for the Razorbacks and it's a great place as well. So the combination of being the athletic director for Fayetteville Public Schools and living in northwest Arkansas with the University of Arkansas right across the street is an opportunity I just couldn't pass up."

As word spread of Janski's departure early Thursday morning, several former players were quick to comment through social media.

All-State running back/linebacker Braylon Mitchell, who earned a scholarship to play football at the University of Arkansas, where he was second on the team with over 80 tackles this fall, stated "I heard a while back that he was a candidate for the position. I think it's a great opportunity for him and his family. Coach was very influential to my success on and off the field. His wife is like a mother to me and his children are like my little siblings as well. I wish him luck and it's going to be great having them closer to me. I just talked to him and told him how excited I was for him," added Mitchell.

All-State running back/linebacker Geoffrey Anderson, who currently plays for the Arkansas State Red Wolves, stated "Coach Janski not only won football games, he brought a town together and gave them something to cheer for and look forward to on Friday nights. "Without a doubt I could not have had the accomplishments in my football career without Janski," stressed Anderson. "He was a strong advocacy by of family, faith then football and that right there is one of the best qualities a coach could ever possess. He brought a broke down program and gave it a foundation and should be greatly applauded for that."

All-State quarterback Michael Ludwig, who currently plays baseball at Williams Baptist College, stated "Coach Janski and I had a great relationship. My senior class at that time would have gone through a brick wall for that guy. It's tough to see him go because he wasn't just a coach... He is a friend. We had a three great years on the playing field but after I graduated he had kept in touch and kept up with what was going on in my life. I hope this is the right move for him and his family. Iron sharpens iron, as does one man to another," added Ludwig," citing Proverbs 27:17, which was a staple in the Panther locker room.

Janski's annual salary is $80,000 at Fayetteville, where he will take over as athletic director on Jan. 3.