Former Capitol coach Claude Coleman was hired as the football coach at Belaire on Thursday.

“The big thing for me is getting the chance to build something,” Coleman said. “I’ve had some experience turning programs around before, so that part of it is not new to me. What I am excited about is being at a school with 1,100 students. That’s a much larger base to draw from than I had when I was at Capitol.

“Understand, this is about more than football. I know Mr. (Roy) Walker and the administration are working on building up the school academically. We need to improve athletically and academically to keep kids in our neighborhood.”

Coleman succeeds Keith Woods, who was told last week that he would not be retained. Woods’ Bengals were 3-7 last fall, posting the largest number of wins in recent years for the Class 4A school.

Coming to Belaire is a reunion of sorts for Coleman, who served as dean of students and head football coach at Capitol from the middle of the 2012 season through the entire 2013 season. BHS Principal Roy Walker was the Capitol principal during Coleman’s tenure there.

Coleman led Capitol to a turnaround season in 2013. The Lions finished 6-5 and advanced to the Class 2A playoffs where they lost Homer 34-32 in the first round of the playoffs. Capitol tied for second in District 6-2A with Dunham and East Feliciana in 2013.

A formal meeting to introduce Coleman to the Belaire players is set for Friday.

“I’ve talked to a few kids, and they’re anxious to get started,” Coleman said. “And we’ll do that in January with weight lifting and conditioning.”

Coleman made it clear that Belaire’s goal will be to compete on and off the field, especially when it comes to garnering student/athletes.

“Students who live near the school can choose to go to other schools,” Coleman said. “We want to make Belaire an attractive school — one that they’ll want to stay closer to home to attend.”