Jerry Byrd's coaching career has come full circle.
His first high school head coaching stop -- North Caddo -- is now his next stop. Byrd replaces John Ware as the head football coach of the Rebels. When Byrd arrived at North Caddo on Tuesday morning, the marquee at the school had already been changed to celebrate his new job.
Byrd began his high school head football coaching career at North Caddo in 2003. He was with the Rebels for three seasons. "The chief of police called me, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Vivian called me. That made me feel really good about this job," Byrd said. "I'm really excited. I feel like this is where I'm supposed to be." Harold Kenneth Berg Jr., who became North Caddo's principal on July 17, interviewed his five candidates Monday. He was quickly impressed with Byrd's experience. He also liked his ability to make a difference. "When he was at North Caddo before, he was very successful, and we felt like he'd be able to build upon past successes and make it an even stronger program," Berg said. "Also, the focus wasn't on success as wins and losses but success as basically having the kids become young men and success in academics as well as athletics." Byrd's already made a stronger program in Vivian once before. In his inaugural season in 2003, Byrd helped the Rebels win their first outright district championship since 1977. A team that went 0-9 the season before advanced to the second round of the playoffs and finished with a 9-3 record overall. "We beat Jonesboro-Hodge in the playoffs in the first round then we lost to Rayville," Byrd said. "What I tell people about those two games is we saw Charles Scott and we went to Rayville and saw Richard Murphy. We played against some future LSU Tigers." Byrd met his Rebels players, including five seniors, for the first time Tuesday. He is still figuring out his coaching staff and official practices begin Aug. 6. Assistant coach Lester Mason acted as the interim coach after Ware left in late June. "I stayed up until 3 a.m. Tuesday," Byrd said. "I tried to go to bed but it didn't work out. (My to-do list) is long." Byrd comes to North Caddo from Loyola where he was the Flyers' defensive coordinator. He also served as head football coach at North DeSoto (2006-2007) and Huntington (2008). "As a principal, I want my football coach to almost be an extension of the administration," Berg said. "I want someone who is going to be very disciplined and someone who is going to have very high expectations of his athletes. Those are the things Mr. Byrd focused on. He's a great leader." Connect with Kelly Morris on Twitter at @Kelly_Mo.