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Cathedral hires Woodard

NATCHEZ — Cathedral High School head coach Ron Rushing didn’t have look far for a new defensive coordinator.

In fact, the one he ended up hiring was a skip across the bridge and a hop to the Town of Ferriday.

Rushing announced Saturday that the Green Wave added veteran coach James Woodard as defensive coordinator. Woodard coached the offensive line last season at Ferriday High School, and in the past served as a defensive coordinator for Robert Raines when Raines coached at Amite County and Natchez high schools.

“He’s been around the game a while,” Rushing said. “I’m excited to be around him and soak up the knowledge. He’s probably forgotten more about football than our whole staff knows.”

Woodard said he was grateful for the opportunity to coach at Cathedral and also said he enjoyed his short time at Ferriday.

“The good Lord opened a door,” Woodard explained. “I was happy in Ferriday, and I enjoyed working with the kids and coaches. This was just an opportunity the good Lord opened up. I’m going to work with some more good kids.”

Ferriday head coach Cleothis Cummings said he was sad to lose Woodard but understood why Woodard made the move.

“You hate to lose a great person, and he has a lot of experience as a coach, and he’s the kind of guy you love to be around,” Cummings said. “It’s a great opportunity for him going to Cathedral. He’s closer to home and will be able to continue doing what he has been, working with young men.”

Rushing said he had kept his sights on Woodard for the defensive coordinator position for a while. He also said Woodard would have total control of the Green Wave’s defense.

“We were originally trying to get Coach Woodard but didn’t have any positions open at the time,” Rushing said. “We had chances to hire other people, but it just kind of worked out to where we had the guy we wanted the first time.”

For Woodard, the chance to coach at Cathedral is the chance to coach at a program that has a good track record, he said.

“Ken and Craig Beesley had things going good, and Ron took over and has continued that tradition,” Rushing said. “They play good, sound football, and they take care of business.”

And sound football is what Woodard said he has in mind for the Green Wave defenders this fall.

“We want to be as sound as possible, both against the run and the pass,” he said. “We’ll try to take advantage of being better athletes.”

Now that he’s at Cathedral, Woodard will no longer have the chance to square off against his son, Trey Woodard, when Ferriday and NHS face each other this season. Trey Woodard is the offensive coordinator at NHS.

“I had a chance to coach my son, I had a chance to coach with my son and then I had an opportunity to coach against him,” James Woodard said. “Now I’m through with that phase of my life. I’m tired of him picking on me.”

Now that his staff is complete, Rushing said he’s satisfied with where things stand as the Green Wave prepare for the season.

“It’s been a roller coaster all summer,” Rushing said. “We had some good guys and some things fell through, but having someone like him fill the spot is very big. You want to fill the spot, but you want to fill it with the right person. Things couldn’t have worked out better.”

Cummings said it was too early to speculate on who might fill Woodard’s position on his staff.

“When that situation arrives, we’ll take care of it,” Cummings said.