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Interviews for HLB football coach set to begin

GRAY — The Terrebonne Parish School Board is getting closer to naming a new head football coach at H.L. Bourgeois High School.

The board ended its applications process last week, and it is set to hold formal interviews with the applicants beginning on Friday through the early part of next week.

Nason Authement, the secondary education supervisor, said a new coach will be announced shortly after the interview process is complete.

“We would like the new coach to be in place for the beginning of January,” Authement said.

On Monday, the school board released the names of six applicants who applied for the job. The candidates are Dean Buckland, a teacher/assistant coach at Plaquemine High; Todd Hargroder, a teacher at the East Street Alternative School in Houma; John Haslitt, a teacher/assistant coach at Ellender High; David Mahfouz, a teacher/assistant coach at North Forsyth High School in Cumming, Ga.; Aaron Meyers, a coach at Morgan City High and Jack Phillips, a teacher/assistant coach at Yazoo City High in Yazoo City, Miss. Phillips is also the former coach of the Houma Bayou Bucks indoor football team. 

H.L. Bourgeois acting principal James Charles said the school is pleased with the list of candidates the search attracted.

“We have some good candidates in that group,” Charles said. “I think we’ll get someone that the community will enjoy.”

H.L. Bourgeois’ new coach will replace Ben Powell, who resigned during the 2012 football season. In two seasons with the Braves, Powell’s overall record was 4-13 and 0-9 in district play.

Interim coach Randy Breaux stepped in and coached the final three games of the regular season. The Braves ended the season with a 2-8 record.

H.L. Bourgeois hasn’t advanced to the state football playoffs since the 2007 season. The team has gone 12-36 over the last five seasons, and it has lost 23 straight district games.

Charles said winning is important, but the new coach will also have to make strides in other areas.

“If you can get the right leadership with the right person that cares about the job and school, then the wins will come,” Charles said. “We’re not worried about winning. We worried about all the other intangibles that surround him like having a good personality, good leadership skills, a good people person in the community and a person who is disciplined with kids in and out of the classroom. If he does that, the wins will come.”

H.L. Bourgeois’ new coach will get the chance to lead the school’s first-ever freshman football program.

Starting in the 2013-14 school year, ninth-grade students will attend H.L. Bourgeois High School as freshmen.

H.L. Bourgeois is building a $9.5 million, 47,000-square-foot building that will house ninth graders on its Gray-based campus next year.

With all the changes, Charles said it is important to hire the new coach by the beginning of January, which will give the candidate time to start building the foundation of the program. 

“You can’t start in August,” Charles said. “The program has to be established now for whoever comes in so you have time for that person to set up. It’s going to be a big movement over here because we’re adding ninth-grade football to the school.”