The coach may be changing, but things will pretty much stay the same at West St. John.
The school turned to a familiar face, naming Brandon Walters as interim head football coach and athletic director.
West St. John will search for a permanent replacement at the end of the 2015 season.
Walters spent the past nine seasons as an assistant at West St. John and replaces Robert Valdez, who was named head coach at Scotlandville last week.
“It’s going to be a smooth transition,” Walters said. “The kids have bought into what we do. We run what we run, and we are going to continue to do what we do. We may tweak a thing or two, but we are going to play the same style of football offensively and defensively.”
Walters has coached mostly the defensive line in his nine seasons with the Rams.
He helped West St. John reach the state championship game twice, once under Valdez in 2011 and once under Laury Dupont in 2007.
“We chose Mr. Walters because of his years of experience as a coach, his loyalty to West St. John and his commitment to the community, the program and the kids,” West St. John principal Claude Hill said in a written statement. “He will help our players continue the winning tradition of West St. John High and intends to raise the level of the program as far as it will go.”
Walters was a star player at McDonogh 35 before going on to play defensive line and outside linebacker at Grambling under coach Eddie Robinson.
Before his time at West St. John, he was an assistant at now defunct Lawless High School and Clark High in New Orleans.
“Now to get a chance to be the head coach is pretty exciting,” Walters said.
In addition to coaching football at West St. John, he served as the athletic director for West St. John Elementary School, where he was the liaison between the high school and middle school teams. He will leave that position to work full time at the high school.
“Hopefully, this year will be our year,” Walters said. “Our goal is to get to the Dome in December, and that won’t change. Our standard of excellence won’t change. I want to see the program grow and excel, and I want to make sure our players toe the line in academics and athletics.”
West St. John finished 10-3 last season, reaching the Class 1A semifinals, where they lost to eventual state champion Haynesville. They also won their fourth straight district championship.
Making it five straight will perhaps be a bit tougher.
The Rams move up in classification to Class 2A with Newman, Riverside, St. Charles, Country Day and Sophie B. Wright.
“We are going to try to keep it rolling, and things should fall in place,” Walters said.