When friends gather for supper, stories flow. And laughter ensues.
That was definitely the case last Thursday evening when Origin Bank hosted the Shreveport-Bossier Journal’s second annual appreciation supper at its downtown Shreveport location on Market Street for Caddo Parish high school football coaches and administrators.
The Journal is preparing for another season of award-winning, comprehensive prep football coverage – free for everyone to read.
The Caddo Parish collection of head football coaches includes four new faces – well, three new to the role and Southwood coach Mike Green, who’s been a successful head coach for 13 years previously at Woodlawn, Huntington and Mansfield, noted for turning struggling teams into winners.
Among the public schools in Caddo Parish, the “dean” of the head coaches is Stephen Dennis, who begins his seventh year in charge at Huntington High School.
Asked for the advice he’d recommend to young-in-their-role head coaches, Dennis had some basic guidance about setting priorities on the job – and balancing them at home.
“When I got the job at Huntington I called a lot of people who were mentors to me. Steven Rice, who used to be a head coach at North Caddo, told me ‘you can make a list and try to get everything done, and you will still be making a list. You’ve got to draw a line and understand that stuff’s going to be waiting tomorrow.
“I would tell young head coaches the work’s always going to be there. Work hard, serve your kids, serve your community, but work hard at home just as much,” he said.
New Green Oaks coach James Bradford is not new to his school. He was an was an assistant for the Giants under coach Chadwick Lewis.
He’s also not new to the area – a Byrd High graduate who played for the Yellow Jackets under longtime coach Mike Suggs, and was later an assistant under him. But Bradford admits, he is new to being THE man in charge for the Giants.
His biggest adjustment?
“Just trying to get used to the head coaching duties. As a coordinator, you’re just dealing with the football aspect. Now I’m dealing with everything on the administrative side, the booster club, making sure everything is done for our staff and our players,” said Bradford.
What is he seeking from his team as preseason practice begins?
“The biggest thing we’re looking for is to be disciplined. We are trying to get the IQ up for football. A lot of the kids today handle their business well and we’re trying to get that to translate to the field. There we want to be a team that’s going to be physical, a team that can control the clock,” Bradford said.
Thedrick Harris, beginning his third season as head coach at Woodlawn, stressed consistency and retaining focus as the advice he’d impart to not only his new colleagues as Caddo head coaches, but any young coach taking over a program.
“The thing I’d say is you’re going to have to stick to it. Every day you’ll have ups and downs, but keep pressing, pick 4-5 things you do well and just do them,” said the former Louisiana Tech player.
Coach after coach stressed “safety” as their top priority entering preseason drills.
Principals, assistant coaches and staff members thoroughly enjoyed the food and hospitality provided by Larry Little and his Origin Bank staff, and mingled with each other and Journal writers Teddy Allen, Jerry Byrd Jr., Lee Hiller, John James Marshall and Tony Taglavore along with photographer Kevin Pickens.