NASD names ex-Bulldog Reed as head football coach

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 31, 2004

NATCHEZ &045; Officials with the Natchez-Adams School District named Lance Reed as head football coach on Wednesday.

The district’s Board of Trustees approved the hiring of Reed, a Natchez native and current assistant coach in Arlington, Texas, nearly four months after opting not to renew the contract of former head coach James Denson.

The board agreed with the recommendation of Superintendent Anthony Morris, who said the vote to hire Reed was unanimous near the end of a 12-minute executive session.

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Reed, a 1991 graduate of Natchez High who later had a productive playing career at Louisiana Tech, is ready to get started.

&uot;It’s exciting for me,&uot; said Reed, who takes his first head-coaching job. &uot;I went out to Texas, and it’s the best place to coach football. Every coach’s dream, I think, is to have a chance to come back to his alma mater and coach there. It’s huge. I want to bring (what I learned) back and do some positive things.&uot;

Reed, currently the defensive coordinator at Sam Houston High School, has spent seven years at the school and was set to enter his first season as coordinator this fall. He was elevated to the position following the departure of head coach Kenny Perry, who took a head coaching job at nearby Haltom and took the previous defensive coordinator along.

&uot;He’s a good one,&uot; current Sam Houston head coach George McFarland said Wednesday morning. &uot;I hate to lose him, but you don’t pass up head coaching jobs when you get the chance.&uot;

But it’s more than football that got the attention of NASD officials, board president Norris Edney said. Although Reed has been away from Natchez since high school and has taught in Arlington since 1998, people still know of him and his family.

&uot;I would doubt you would find too many people who would not know him or his family,&uot; Edney said. &uot;He was born and raised in the Broadmoor area, and he played football at Natchez High. I felt very comfortable with the things he brought to the table. He made a very good presentation &045; things he wanted to do and how he specifically would go about making changes in the system.

&uot;It was really about what he brought to the table. He’s well-trained, and he’s experienced.&uot;

The job at hand, meanwhile, is turning around one of the least successful programs in Class 5A and perhaps the entire MHSAA. The Bulldogs won just two games in three seasons under Denson &045; both by a combined score of three points &045; and were out-scored last year by a score of 405-78.

The Bulldogs were beaten on average 36-7. Not once in the last two years did the Bulldogs break 20 points in a game.

&uot;Right now it’s a matter of finding out what’s there, taking the plans I have set in place and putting it in motion,&uot; Reed said. &uot;I’m ready to get rolling, and hopefully positive things will come forward in the future. I’ll try to take my plans and put it in motion. I’ve heard some great things about some of the players. I’m looking forward to getting out there, meeting everyone and getting going.&uot;

School officials were trying to find someone with big-school experience and the ability to bring the program back to its glory days. The Bulldogs made the South State championship in 1998 under then-head coach Robert Raines, currently athletic director at Alcorn.

That was their last winning season.

&uot;We just know it’s not performing at the level of a 5A school,&uot; Edney said. &uot;It is not competitive with other schools. (Reed) has set forth to us how to make a difference, and we were impressed with that plan and feel that it would work. It involves the whole young man &045; not just whether or not he passes or runs but his character, academics and spirituality.

&uot;He’s talking about young men being invited to church, but he’s also addressing young men going to class and passing their courses.&uot;

Reed made some of those points during a presentation to the district on his plan as head coach of the program. It’s also part of getting back to the glory years of football, one he was raised in while attending North Natchez when both North and South Natchez were formidable powers in the MHSAA.

Reed attended North Natchez until the schools consolidated and finished at Natchez High.

&uot;I remember the biggest joke people would say when they put us together &045; they should put us in the SEC,&uot; Reed said. &uot;It would take time to mesh those two schools, two rival schools. It wasn’t what people probably thought it probably should have been. I’ve always kept close contact with Natchez and how things were going.&uot;

Reed was selected out of a pool of 24 candidates that applied for the position back in February. The search committee had to narrow that down to 12 and then to five among a highly qualified field of five finalists, but Reed’s name stuck out.

&uot;I like the fact that he has an interest in the whole child and not just their athletic abilities,&uot; Morris said. &uot;I have to say all five of the finalists were excellent. We were fortunate in that perspective that we had some excellent applicants.&uot;

Said Edney: &uot;I’m of the opinion that each of those would have been a good decision. We’re certain Lance can do it, but he won out over some persons just as strong or stronger. One of them was already a head coach.&uot;

Details of the agreement were not released. Morris said the contract has not been signed, but Reed will start his 240-day contract in July.

Morris said Reed will have at least three vacancies on the staff to fill.