McKinley High School took a back-to-the-future route to hire its new football coach, selecting Central defensive coordinator Ken Hilton.
Hilton, who was the McKinley head coach in 2004, has been the defensive coordinator at Central for the past four seasons.
“It was one of those things where I got that itch again and really wanted to be a head coach,” Hilton said. “When I left McKinley in 2004 it wasn’t because there was anything wrong with McKinley, it was because my alma mater (Baker) called.
“I think things are in place to build a successful program at McKinley, and I can’t wait to get started. I didn’t get a chance to finish what I started at my last (head coaching) job, and I look forward to doing that.”
The announcement of Hilton’s hiring comes as another area school, Donaldsonville, begins its search for a new head coach. DHS Principal Marvin Evans said he and coach Benny Guilbeaux “reached a mutual decision to make a change.”
The 40-year-old Hilton brings a career record of 34-27 to MHS. He was a star lineman at Baker and went on to play at McNeese State from 1995-97. Last month, Robert Signater resigned after eight seasons as McKinley’s coach. Hilton’s hiring is pending approval of the East Baton Rouge Parish School Board, said McKinley Principal Herman Brister Jr.
“I think it’s a win ... I think we got ourselves a great head coach,” Brister said. “Ken has an extensive plan for what he wants to do to build the program and can articulate that very well.
“He has a vision, and I think we share that vision. He knows it will be a process that will involve strength and conditioning, the classroom and coaching.”
Brister said McKinley had 15 applicants and interviewed six. Brister confirmed that Central coach Sid Edwards was among the coaches the search committee spoke with, but noted Edwards was a key source of information on Hilton.
Hilton started his coaching career at Tara and was part of the Baker staff when the Buffaloes finished as the Class 4A runner-up in 2001. After one season at McKinley, he moved back to Baker for three seasons. Hilton was 21-13 at Baker, including 10-2 season in 2006. The Buffaloes lost to eventual Class 3A state champion Lutcher in the quarterfinals that year. He was The Advocate’s Coach of the Year for Classes 3A to 1A that year.
After stints at Plaquemine and Redemptorist, Hilton spent one season as coach at Scotlandville and resigned from there to go to Central.
“I’d like to thank coach Sid and Mr. Bob Wales (former Central principal) and coach (David) Prescott (current Central principal) for giving me the opportunity to work at Central,” Hilton said. “It was emotional when I told the kids I was leaving. I am excited about the future.”
Evans said Donaldsonville will advertise its head football coach opening until Jan. 7. He said he hopes to have a new coach in place by mid-January. Evans said Guilbeaux resigned late last week. Guilbeaux was the Tigers coach for three seasons. Donaldsonville finished 3-7 this fall, including a 3-4 record in District 6-3A.
“This is to inform you that I will be resigning as a teacher, athletic director and head football coach at Donaldsonville High School effective December 31, 2015,” Guilbeaux said in his letter of recommendation. “I want to thank you for the opportunity of being the athletic director and head football coach, meanwhile utilizing all aspects of my teaching certification.”
Donaldsonville assistant coach Jay Dykes said he has spoken to Evans about applying for the job. Dykes, who is the Louisiana High School Coaches Association president, is the son of longtime DHS coach Jimmy Dykes.