McFarland fields winner in first season
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 28, 1999
With only five returning starters on offense and three on defense, not many people figured James McFarland’s first season at Ferriday High would be a winning. Not many would have counted on the Trojans making it to the second round of the playoffs either, but Ferriday did both, finishing 7-5, losing to Many 45-25 in the second round of the Class 2A state playoffs.
&uot;Going into the spring, I really felt we had a good football team,&uot; McFarland said. &uot;Our numbers were up and we knew we would be better in the offensive line. We had our skilled people back. We thought if we could come around on defense, we would be O.K.&uot;
The Trojans surprised Vinton 36-31 on the road in its first game before losing to Many.
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&uot;I had a good coaching staff, a lot of support from the parents and we had 99 percent attendance at our morning practices,&uot; McFarland said. &uot;All that really helped.&uot;
McFarland was an assistant coach under Cordell Bailey for nine years before Bailey accepted an assistant coaching job under former Ferriday coach Jerry Baldwin at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.
&uot;I think the fact I started in January alleviated some of the pressure,&uot;&160;McFarland said. &uot;The toughest part may have been being accepted by the kids and community, but I think winning alleviated some of that. Cordell is a good guy and had been there a long time and did a great job. It’s hard following those type of people.&uot;
Ferriday junior running back Corey Gordon rushed for more than 1,000 yards, while senior quarterback Aron Thomas passed for more than 1,000.
&uot;It really helped having a four-year player like Aron at quarterback,&uot; McFarland said.
The Trojan coach said Gordon may have to take more of the load next year.
&uot;We’ll take what the defense gives us, but with the loss of Aron and our offensive line doing a better job, we may have to run the ball more than we have in the past, at least until the new quarterback gets his feet under him.&uot;
McFarland loses leading tackler Cedric Jefferson, but returns defensive end Stanley Smith, who was all-district, along with wide receiver Lawrence Washington.
&uot;The kids really made the transition easy,&uot; McFarland said. &uot;They were loyal and disciplined. And they worked real hard.&uot;