Chris Edwards named athletic director, football coach at Northwest High

OPELOUSAS — Chris Edwards is hoping to turn inexperience into a positive, something he emphasized Thursday afternoon after he was unanimously appointed by the St. Landry Parish School Board as the new athletic director and head football coach at Northwest High School.

Edwards, 35, has coached football for the past seven years at Lawtell Elementary, which has been one of the main feeder school programs for Northwest.

“As I go into this job, the thing I hope to do right away is to get the kids to believe in me and look for me in turning things around,” Edwards said.

Edwards was an assistant briefly at Northwest before taking the Lawtell Elementary position, but this is his first high school head coaching position.

Before moving back to St. Landry, Edwards spent one year as the running backs coach at Lambert University.

The Northwest position became available last month after Darnell Lee announced that he was leaving the school to become a defensive football and basketball assistant at East Ascension.

Lee completed three seasons as the Northwest football coach. Last season, the Raiders were 6-6 and reached the regional round of the Class 3A state playoffs before losing to Livonia 43-12.

According to a Personnel Committee report presented at Thursday’s meeting, Edwards was one of four candidates interviewed July 22 by a selection committee.

The applicants in addition to Lee were former Northside High athletic director and football coach Vincent DeRouen, Joseph Riley III and North Central athletic director and head football coach Jacobi Thierry.

Edwards told the board he understands that moving into a high school head coaching position after spending several years at an elementary school won’t be easy.

“It’s going to be tough. There are going to be bumps down the road, but I and my players are going to represent Northwest in the best way,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the position and I thank (the board) for giving me that shot.”

Edwards said he has been fortunate to have former Mamou High head football coach Kevin Manuel handling the Northwest summer workout program after Lee left the school.

“(Manuel) has really been my guiding light so far. I know (Manuel) has been doing everything to make my transition easy,” he said.