Ben Palmer had never heard of Christian Life Academy before he saw an online notice saying the school was looking to hire a head football coach.

When the Calvary Baptist assistant football-track coach saw the notice a second time, he took a chance and applied. Now the Class 1A Crusaders are returning the favor by giving the 28-year-old former Marine sergeant the job.

“I wasn’t really sure if I had enough experience or the right kind of experience,” Palmer said. “As it turned out, they liked my background. And the fact that I served in Afghanistan appealed to them (Christian Life administrators). They wanted to bring some of that mentality and discipline.”

Last fall Palmer was the wide receivers coach for the Shreveport-based Cavaliers, who won the Division III select state title for the second straight season.

Before that, Palmer coached at La Costa Canyon High School in San Diego for two seasons, including one year while he was still in the military.

The Katy, Texas, native started his career under current Calvary coach John Bachman Sr. when Bachman was head coach at another Shreveport power, Evangel Christian, in 2007. Palmer’s experience includes a stint at Houston Baptist.

Palmer is scheduled to meet with the CLA parents, players and faculty next week. He succeeds Keith Dooley who was not retained after the Crusaders finished 2-8 last fall.

Home on the road?

Central High pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the first round of the 5A baseball tournament, ousting sixth-seeded Sam Houston 5-3 on Tuesday in Moss Bluff.

Jordan Wilkins was 2-for-4 at the plate, including a double that opened a four-run sixth inning the 27th-seeded Wildcats (9-16). Andrew Harris also was 2-for-4 for Central.

“We may not play at home again, but it’s OK,” Central coach Mike Forbes said. “I told our guys to go try and make as a No. 27 seed that goes far. We played as complete a game as we’ve played all year.”

Mikhail Hilliard (3-3) got the win, allowing six hits with seven strikeouts. Shane Fontenot retired the final six batters to get the save. Central travels to Shreveport to take on C.E. Byrd in a best-of-three games series that start at 6 p.m. Friday.

Verges steps down

Live Oak High boys basketball coach Cary Verges has resigned to enter private business.

Verges spent two seasons as the LOHS head coach. He spent five years as an assistant at Woodlawn.

The school seeks applicants with a valid Louisiana teacher’s certificate, preferably certified to teach social studies. Those interested should send a cover letter and resume athletic directors’ Jason Cooper at or Robert Graves at

State tennis resumes

The LHSAA’s State Tennis tournament resumes Thursday with the first day of competition for Divisions I-II. Matches begin at 8 a.m. at the University of Louisiana at Monroe and two other parks located in the Monroe area. The tourney concludes Friday.

St. Michael the Archangel’s Cameron Andry is the three-time defending Division II state singles champion. Regional singles champions Nick Watson of Catholic High and Yasmine Taylor of Zachary help lead Division I competitors.