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Like father, like son: Woodard duo to coach on opposite ends as NHS hosts Ferriday

Trey Woodard, right, played football when his father James, left, was his coach at Natchez High School. Now the Woodards are both offensive line coaches, but for different teams in the Miss-Lou. The father and son will go head to head today when Ferriday and Natchez play at Natchez. (Lauren Wood \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Ferriday High School assistant coach James Woodard won’t be able to see his son on the opposing sideline tonight at Natchez High School.

That’s because Trey Woodard, NHS’s offensive coordinator, will be calling plays from the booth as the Trojans take on the Bulldogs at 7:30 p.m.

All the better for James, who said he’s not about to outthink his son if the two make it a contest on the sidelines.

“I just can’t get into the mental game with him, because I’ll lose,” James said.

James said he’s gone against his son too many times and knows better than to try to get into a chess match with Trey.

“I always try to use brute force and speed — I’m old-fashioned — and he always beats me,” James said. “When we have our games against each other, whoever gets the last pin wins.”

Tonight’s game will be a homecoming of sorts for James, who was offensive line coach at NHS in 1993 under then-head coach Tom Williams. And his son got to experience firsthand his father’s coaching philosophy.

“I was a senior (that year),” Trey said.

“And I made him play for me,” James interjected.

The younger Woodard played center for NHS in 1993, and James said he was definitely tougher on Trey than he was the rest of his players.

“I expected him to know stuff before he was supposed to,” James said. “He lived with me, so he was supposed to know it.”

Trey said he only got into it with his dad once, though he didn’t remember exactly which game it was that season.

“He kept putting me in and out because he was wondering whether or not I was hurt,” Trey said. “I told him I was fine and to stop pulling me in and out, and he told me, ‘Stop yelling at me, I’m your dad.’”

James defended his decision, saying he was just worried about his son’s health, and he didn’t want Trey getting seriously injured over a game.

“I’m one of the ones that knows quicker than the other folks, and that comes with time in the business,” James said.

Despite any disagreements they ever had, James said he was still quite proud of Trey.

“I still love him, and I tell him every chance I get,” James said. “I’ve been very, very proud of him. He’s taught me a lot in the last 10 years.”

Trey wasn’t so sure about exactly how much he’s taught his father.

“I don’t think so,” Trey joked.

Despite living in Natchez, James spent the last two seasons commuting to Baker High School to help then-head coach Robert Raines, who was an assistant with James on Williams’ staff at NHS in 1993. After Raines took over as head coach at Amite County High School this year, James said he got a call from Ferriday High School Principal James Davis about coaching in Ferriday.

“It was 83 miles one way (to Baker),” James said. “Coach Davis called me and asked me if I wanted to get off the road.”

After watching his son coach, James said he thinks Trey takes after his father in some ways.

“I think one way he emulates me is that he feels the same about the players as I do, that they’re like sons,” James said.

“Some of them,” Trey jokingly clarified.

After 38 years in the coaching business, James said he’s learned the value of being a father figure to athletes. But Trey said that’s just a sign of his father’s age.

“It’s because you’re old,” Trey said.

That reminded James of how his two young grandchildren don’t pick on their grandfather because Trey instructs them not to.

“The joke is, ‘Why can’t you pick on Paw Paw? Because he’s old,’” James said.

Neither James nor Trey would make any predictions about tonight’s contest.

“The team that plays the best (will win),” Trey said.

“That’s going to be hard to do with no practice in three days,” James said.

Thanks to Tropical Storm Isaac messing up this week’s practice schedule, Trey said the Bulldogs would have to simplify things for tonight.

“One advantage we have is that we’ve played three games,” Trey said. “We know what we’re good at, so we can simplify to those two or three things.”

Since the Trojans will be opening their season tonight, James said not having practice the last few days makes things more difficult for Ferriday.

“We knew we’d have to play a prefect game, and that will be hard,” James said.

James said starting Trojans running back Jarvis Brooks is questionable for tonight’s game with a left foot contusion.