(Submitted Photo/Courtesy of Mike Walker)
Berwick names Walker head football coach, athletic director
Berwick High School’s new head football coach and athletic director may be from the New Orleans area, but he already has had ties at the school for the last few years.
Mike Walker, who Principal Paul Broussard announced as the school’s newest head football coach and athletic director Tuesday, is married to Jennifer Morella Walker, a Berwick alum and Berwick High teacher for two years.
Walker, 29, will come to Berwick after spending the past four seasons as defensive coordinator of the Vandebilt Catholic football team. The former Nicholls State linebacker also has two years of experience as a Nicholls graduate assistant.
"I've been a defensive guy my whole career, and kind of what I hang my hat on is the defensive side of the ball,” he said. “Having said that, one of the first things I plan on doing once I get to Berwick is getting with those guys at Berwick who were on staff last year and seeing what their duties were, kind of divvying up who is going to be the offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator.”
Walker comes from the state’s most successful high school football program as a graduate of John Curtis Christian School. During his time at the school, he suffered just one loss on the football field and won three straight state championships.
He played outside linebacker in high school and earned all-district honors twice and all-state, all-metro and all-east bank honors as a senior.
At Nicholls, he played inside and outside linebacker.
Walker replaces Eric Holden, who resigned his post in January after a two-year run as head coach. During that time frame, the Panthers made back-to-back postseason appearances.
Berwick’s 2016 playoff appearance was the first in football in 20 years, while its 2017 first-round victory against Eunice marked the first time in 20-plus years the squad had won a playoff game.
The Panthers finished the 2017 season with an 8-4 mark, falling to eventual state champion West Feliciana in the Class 3A regional round.
"The past two years have been a huge step in the right direction in the program,” Walker said.
Entering the 2018 season, the Panthers must replace a large senior class, including two all-state receivers — LSU signee Kenan Jones Josh Carver.
However, the Panthers will return some talent in 2018 in all-state quarterback Mitchell Sanford, who threw for nearly 3,000 yards and almost 40 touchdowns, running back Josh Jones, who rushed for more than 1,200 yards and the team’s third leading tackler, all-state defensive back Barrett Hover, who nearly totaled 100 tackles in 2017.
"The cupboard is far from bare, and it's my job to put those guys in the best possible situation to be successful,” Walker said.
A “mentally tough, physical attitude” is something Walker wants to instill in his team.
“We’re going to run the football when we need to run the football and stop teams when they run the football,” he said.
Walker noted that teams that are the most physical typically have more success.
Coming from the John Curtis program, Walker said along with winning, the coaches developed relationships with the players. Those relationships are something Walker said he would like to do at Berwick to help mold the players for further down their lives past football.
Walker will bring a two-part moniker to Berwick: talk about doing things one way and being all-in.
He said the players will be expected to do the right things all the time, and he wants to players to embrace the program like he will and give it their all.
Walker also will be looking to get the alumni and boosters involved.
"Hopefully, we can give them a product on the field, with the character of our young men, that they can be proud of," Walker said.