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Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Robert Valdez

Robert Valdez is now officially off the market, and Scotlandville High is in the market for a new head football coach.

Valdez, who led the Class 5A Hornets to a 10-2 record and the regional playoff round last fall, was hired as head coach/athletic director at Class 3A St. James High School on Monday. The hiring of Valdez was announced in a video released by the St. James Parish School Board.

“This is very exciting, it’s exciting for my family,” Valdez said in the video. “I’m thrilled to be selected to lead a state power. St. James athletics is recognized around the state as one of the best programs. This community is second to none.

“When you sit down and look at the things that are important, you always talk about core values. My core values have always been in my faith and my family. And I think this situation, when it appeared, it was one of those situations I owed it to my family to look at it. This is a very tradition-rich area. The fanfare in the community and the excitement is second to none.”

Valdez and Central Lafourche head coach Keith Menard were the finalists for the job. Valdez succeeds Dwain Jenkins, who stepped down at St. James in early February to become head coach the St. James Parish’s other high school and rival, Lutcher High. Lutcher beat St. James to win the Class 3A state title in December.

A few weeks after the 3A showdown in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, Lutcher coach Tim Detillier announced his retirement from coaching, opening the door for Jenkins, a former LHS quarterback and assistant coach, to return.

Like Jenkins, Valdez has been a steady presence on the high school football scene in the River Parishes. The former O.P. Walker and Southern lineman was an assistant to Larry Dauterive at East St. John. After spending one season at McKinley High in Baton Rouge, he fashioned a 60-29 mark at West St. John in seven seasons, including a state runner-up finish in Class 1A in 2011.

Valdez accepted the job at Scotlandville last summer and led the Hornets to a 9-1 regular season. Their lone loss was to eventual state champion Zachary High. Scotlandville lost 42-41 to Mandeville, a team that advanced to semifinals, in the regional round.