Brandon Mitchell returned to Louisiana approximately 18 months ago to be closer to family and with one goal in mind — to give back to the Florida Parishes region where he grew up.
After one season as quarterbacks coach/passing-game coordinator at his alma mater, Amite High, the former Arkansas and North Carolina State quarterback looks to fulfil those goals just down Interstate 55 as head coach at Class 2A St. Helena College & Career Academy.
“I have family in that area and know it well,” Mitchell said. “I knew about the team because we played them last year, and you could see the talent and potential there. It is a great group of young guys who are eager to compete and to win.
“Now obviously, we don’t know what will happen with this season because of the (coronavirus), but I truly hope they have the chance to play. I think they can do special things.”
Mitchell took over as the Hawks coach in mid-June. He was a three-star prospect at Amite when he signed with Arkansas in 2009. His senior year the Warriors lost to eventual Class 3A champion Lutcher in the quarterfinals.
He played quarterback and wide receiver in three seasons at Arkansas. Mitchell started the 2013 season opener for NC State vs. Louisiana Tech and suffered a foot injury that required surgery.
Mitchell then moved into the college coaching ranks, most notably working as wide receivers coach/passing-game coordinator at Idaho from 2015-18.
The 29-year-old Mitchell takes over for John Felder, a former St. Helena QB and UL defensive back. Felder coached the Hawks for two seasons, leading SHHS to the quarterfinals in 2018 and a first-round berth last fall.
In 2017, St. Helena finished as the Class 2A runner-up under former coach Brandon Brown, now the coach at Class 5A East St. John. St. Helena principal Brandon Fontenot said Mitchell’s plan for building the program gave him the edge over other candidates.
“I think (Mitchell) can get us back to where we were when coach Brown was here,” Fontenot said.