Rhone to be honored at 12th annual Alumni Dinner

Updated: September 7, 2018

By Ronda Pounds

ASD Public Relations Coordinator

The Ashdown High School Alumni Committee and officers are pleased to announce the 12th annual Alumni Dinner. The dinner will be held on Saturday, September 22, 2018, at the Ashdown High School cafeteria.

This year’s honored guest will be Earnest Rhone, an AHS class of 1971 graduate, who played 10 seasons in the National Football League for the Miami Dolphins and in Super Bowls XVII and XIX.

Rhone is the son of the late Tony Rhone Sr. and Vinnie Rhone. He grew up in the community of Ogden, Ark., and attended Morris Elementary School in Ogden until the “Freedom of Choice” gave him the opportunity to enroll at Ashdown High School. He is a 1971 graduate of Ashdown High School and was named the first African-American captain by his teammates. He was coached by Dick Hays and Johnny Toombs and participated in basketball and track.

With no scholarship in hand, he spent the summer working and matched an $800 grant to enter Henderson State University. But after his first football season, his coach, Sporty Carpenter awarded him a full scholarship based on his hard work and exceptional skills.

While at Henderson, Earnest was nicknamed “Iron Man.” He was named captain of the Reddie football team, All-AIC 1971-74, NAIA All-American Linebacker 1974, All-District 1974, and HSU Reddie All-American. The Reddies were runners-up in the 1974 NAIA Division I Championship Game. He was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame in 1988, HSU Reddie Hall of Honor in 1997, and the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2000.  He obtained his Bachelor of Science Degree in Education from Henderson State University.

After college, Earnest signed as a free agent with the Miami Dolphins in 1974 and played 10 years for the team. He proved his ability with a hit that knocked a running back’s helmet off his head, 15 feet into the air and 20 yards across the field. He played in Super Bowls XVII and XIX and was an integral part of two AFC Championships. While playing for the Dolphins, he was selected as Defensive Captain in 1982 and earned the inaugural Rusty Chambers 110% Award.

As a starter in 1981, he led Miami with 171 tackles, six QB sacks and was voted the teams’ Outstanding Linebacker by the South Florida media. He set a Dolphin record for most quarterback sacks by a linebacker in a single game against Richard Todd and the New York Jets. He was fortunate to be coached by some of the best in the business such as HSU’s Sporty Carpenter, and Don Shula of the Dolphins.

Since his retirement from the NFL, he received the “Unsung Hero Award” from the Miami Dolphins Alumni organization and was inducted into the 2017 Fox Sports Hall of Fame.

Earnest began his working career in real estate, eventually founding Rhone Realty and Associates. He is currently employed by Texarkana ISD where he has worked for 25 years as a coach and educator. During his career as an educator, he was honored as Teacher of the Year for Lincoln Street Alternative School. As a coach for the THS football and track teams, he has won numerous district championships and one state football championship title in 2002 and one state track championship in 2014.

He is a member of the Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church in Ogden where he serves as a deacon and Sunday School Superintendent. He has participated in the Hometown NFL Weekend benefitting the Faith Love and Hope Organization. He is married to Cassandra Harris Rhone and they have three children – Earnest Rhone Jr. (EJ), Alana Rhone, and Anthony Rhone.

He genuinely inspires his students to believe in themselves, to be independent thinkers and learners, and to accept a variety of challenges. He promotes and encourages all to strive to be the best and to realize the power of making “good choices.”

Even though Earnest did not receive a football scholarship nor was he drafted to the NFL, the Super Bowl rings and the souvenir football he intercepted from Joe Namath during his rookie year are symbols what hard work and a good attitude can accomplish. “Winners never quit and quitters never win.”

Alumni dinner tickets are on sale until Sept. 14.  For more information or to get tickets, call (903) 826-7918.