Former NCHS coach Wilkerson joins Calvary football staff

FRESH START:  Former Natchitoches Central head football coach James Wilkerson (center, maroon shirt) has landed a job on Rodney Guin’s Calvary Baptist staff. (Photo by KEVIN SHANNAHAN, Natchitoches Parish Journal)

By DOUG IRELAND, Journal Sports

Former Natchitoches Central head football coach James Wilkerson has accepted a spot on Rodney Guin’s Calvary Baptist Academy coaching staff.

Wilkerson, well-regarded for years as an offensive assistant at Byrd High before spending the last three seasons in charge at NCHS, will coach the Cavaliers’ offensive line.

Guin is 55-17 in six years at Calvary, and 181-74 overall as a head coach (previously at Haughton), third all-time in Caddo-Bossier. He guided Calvary to a state title in 2020, and took the Cavaliers to the semifinals in 2021 and 2019 after making it to the quarterfinals the three previous years (2016-18). They were beaten in the state quarterfinals in 2022.

Wilkerson worked for another successful head coach, Mike Suggs, at Byrd, coaching running backs. Wilkerson took over a long-struggling NCHS program just weeks before the COVID pandemic struck in 2020, but once he had a full year including spring practice and an offseason program, the Chiefs had a massively successful 2021 campaign.

They broke into the LSWA state Class 5A top 10 rankings for the first time this century while soaring to a 7-0 start before a season-ending injury to quarterback Brian Young.

Wilkerson coached a pair of 1,000-yard running backs, Caylin Demars and Jeremiah Miles, in his last two years with the Chiefs. His combined 10-10 regular-season record in those seasons was the best two-year stretch by NCHS this century. After a 2022 season greatly hampered by another injury that sidelined Young for the first five games and limited him for another two, Wilkerson and NCHS parted ways before Christmas. Last month, Many’s Jess Curtis was tabbed the Chiefs’ new coach.

Wilkerson has 20 years of high school coaching experience, including a couple of seasons as head coach at St. Mary’s in Natchitoches not long after he graduated from Northwestern State.

“His reputation as a coach, and more importantly as a man of God, are exciting additions to 9333 Linwood Ave.,” said a Facebook announcement by the school through its Calvary Touch Down Club page, with the post titled “How can (our) incredible staff get any better?? Boom! LIKE THIS!!!!!!” 

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