Walters named interim WSJ head coach for 2015

Published 12:01 am Saturday, July 25, 2015

EDGARD — Only a week after former West St. John longtime coach Robert Valdez stepped down, his successor has been chosen.

On Wednesday, former defensive line coach Brandon Walters was named interim head coach and athletic director for the 2015 season. Walters replaces Valdez, who left last week to take the head coaching position at Scotlandville in Baton Rouge.

“I am still pretty awed by it,” Walters said. “It still hasn’t really hit me yet. I just have been trying to scramble around and make sure to get everything straight for the season. We are going to continue to do what we were already doing as far as practices and preparation for the new year.”

Walters said the process moved extremely quickly and he was offered the job only a few hours after interviewing for it.

That is not surprising given the Rams first full practices of the 2015 season are only a few days away.

“We were set to practice Monday anyway so we are not going to miss anything,” Walters said. “We are going to continue moving forward.”

Walters has been an assistant coach with the Rams since 2006 and was one of two assistant coaches, the other being defensive coordinator Levanta Davis, who applied for the job.

“Whether I am the assistant coach or the head coach I want to win,” Walters said. “That is my projection for the season and that is what I want to focus on and making sure we get out there and play sound football and make a run of the state championship. We are going to play West St. John football. Nothing is going to change. We are still going to try to work to be one of the best.”

Walters, a McDonogh 35 graduate, is originally from New Orleans, but took a job at West St. John Elementary after Hurricane Katrina. He played college football for Grambling State University.

With nine years under his belt at West St. John, including serving under former head coach Laury DuPont before Valdez was hired to lead the school seven years ago, Walters is confident he has picked up enough to keep up the program’s success.

“The more you are around good people the more you learn, the more you soak in and the more you can apply those things to what you want to do,” Walters said. “ So it has definitely been a good experience.”

Throughout his career Walters coached in two state championships, one under DuPont and the other under Valdez.

Being on the coaching staff at West St. John for nearly a decade, Walters said he has had time to learn the ins and outs of coaching and is ready to take over the leadership of the program.

“I’ve gotten a lot more experienced as far as being a student of the game, studying the game and breaking down what people do more efficiently — concentrating and perfecting what I want the kids to know technique-wise and being a technician with the game a lot more,” Walters said.

In addition to Walters being promoted, other coaching changes are expected to take place.

Former West St. John offensive Kris Peters will be joining Valdez in Scotlandville.

The most likely candidate to replace Peters is quarterbacks coach Derek “Skip” LaMothe. LaMothe himself has several years of head coaching experience split between former Algiers schools L.B. Landry and O.P Walker.

Walters said LaMothe is a good fit for offensive coordinator.

“He is a great guy,” Walters said.

“He brings so much to the game. What he knows and his experience, he is great to have.”

LaMothe called plays for the Rams last week in their 7-on-7 quarterfinals finish at the Adidas/Airo 7-on-7 regional tournament in Valdosta, Ga.

The coaching change is not all West St. John will be going through this season.

The team is  also moving up divisions from 1A to 2A and has been lumped together in a competitive district with other St. John Parish schools, St. Charles Catholic and Riverside Academy.

“We are used to playing some pretty tough teams,” Walters said.

“The kids are pretty excited about it because there are some more local teams and they’ll be able to keep some of the rivalries going with some of the kids they know and are familiar with. So it is going to be a good thing.”

While Walters’ was named interim coach, others will still have an opportunity to apply for the longterm position when the job is reopened next year.

St. John the Baptist Parish School Superintendent Kevin George said Walters will get a chance to prove himself over the season.

“(Walters) will get a shot for a six or seven months long interview process,” George said.