Byrd assistant coach nabs Natchitoches Central coaching job

Jimmy Watson
Shreveport Times
Natchitoches Central coach James Wilkerson III

Former Byrd assistant football coach James Wilkerson III probably has more connections in Natchitoches than most of the people who live there.

The Dequincy High graduate, recently named the head coach at Natchitoches Central, previously coached with St. Mary’s Tiger program from 2003 to 2009. He then spent 10 seasons with Mike Suggs at Byrd, broken up by a one-year stint as the offensive coordinator at Natchitoches Central in 2015. 

“I always wanted to be head coach at a highest level at a school that is committed to building a program,” Wilkerson said. “Natchitoches Central is on the rise, and they want to be better, so that drive appealed to me.”

Wilkerson’s first official day is Tuesday, so he hasn’t had much time to evaluate the talent left behind by Byron Keller, whose 3-7 season included six losses by a total of 19 points. The 2019 Chiefs lost three games by a field goal, one by a safety and one by a single point. Keller’s team was also 3-7 in 2018.

“It’s a town full of talent,” Wilkerson said. 

Not only did Wilkerson attend Northwestern State and coach at two of the high schools in town, he married a Natchitoches girl. Emily Rush Wilkerson is a work-at-home mother with four children to keep track of. 

“Byrd offered me a job in 2009 and it was what was best for my wife and I at the time, since we were expecting our first child,” said Wilkerson of his reason for leaving Natchitoches initially.

A couple of top NCHS returnees from the All-District 1-5A team are defensive lineman Jaden Hare and Ferman Walker a Flex selection. 

Twitter: @JimmyWatson6