Marksville assistant hired as new Sacred Heart football coach
Sacred Heart School in Ville Platte has hired Marksville High assistant Josh Harper as the school's new head football coach and athletic director. (Gazette photo by Raymond Partsch III)
By Raymond Partsch III
Josh Harper is looking to bring stability to Sacred Heart.
The 36-year-old was officially hired on Monday as the new head football coach-athletic director at Sacred Heart School. Harper replaces Gary Adkins who departed the Class 2A Catholic school in Ville Platte in July after only one season to take the same position at Abbeville High.
Harper, who has spent past three seasons as an assistant at Marksville High, looks to bring stability to the Trojans who have had little since legendary coach Dutton Wall retired following the 2011 season. Harper will be the fifth head coach in the past six years at Sacred Heart.
“I personally believe with the type of school it is that we have a great opportunity to bring stability, structure and longevity to the program,” Harper said. “I am planning on giving them what they are looking for. The potential is really through the roof at Sacred Heart.”
A former running back-defensive back at Marksville High (Class of 1997), Harper entered coaching after graduating from University of Louisiana-Monroe in 2003. He coached defensive backs-running backs coach at his alma mater in 2007 before leaving after a year to take a pharmaceutical sales position.
Harper returned to coaching in 2009, as the boy’s basketball head coach at Avoyelles Public Charter School in Mansura, where he guided the team to a pair of playoff appearances in three seasons despite never having coached basketball or for that matter playing the sport in high school.
“It is two different sports but the one constant is that you are in charge,” Harper said. “I didn’t play basketball in high school so I was green about the sport. I built that team on discipline and hard work. I had to start with something. That approach will carry over to football.”
Harper returned to Marksville and has served as the defensive back-running backs coach until being promoted to defensive coordinator last season. In all four seasons as an assistant with the Class 3A Tigers, Marksville made the postseason all four yeas.
Harper will bring the offensive and defensive schemes Marksville has used for more than a decade under head coach J.T. Dunbar. Harper says the Trojans will run a 5-2 base defense and run the single-wing on the offensive side of the ball.
Even though he is coming in at the last minute, Dunbar for one believes that Harper is a great fit at Sacred Heart.
“I know it is late in the game and I feel for him from that standpoint but he is up for the challenge,” Dunbar said. “I think he is going to be super for the kids. He will bring a lot of energy to the program. He will leave his own mark.”
Harper said he has learned a lot more about coaching than just schemes from Dunbar.
“I learned about the big things of running a program like building character, creating structure and instilling discipline,” Harper said. “But I also learned that winning is big part of football but showing these kids a positive influence is far bigger. You have a chance to teach these kids lessons that go a lot further than football itself.”
Harper’s official first day on the job will be Wednesday as he will lead his team through conditioning drills at the school.