For the 2013-14 school year, the Cleveland School Board voted Monday night during their monthly board meeting to approve the hiring of interim coach Kendrick Woodard as East Side's new head football coach.
Woodard, 31, has worked as an assistant with the Trojan football team for seven years, six of those years as defensive coordinator. Woodard played safety at Mississippi Delta Community College and at Mississippi Valley State University.
The move from assistant to head coach is one that has the Cleveland native and Cleveland High graduate very excited.
"This is a dream come true for me,” Woodard said. “I'm very excited about the opportunity to lead this team. There are a lot of expectations here at East Side and a lot of tradition. We are going to go out and do what we do. We are going to put the best athletes on the field and let them play.
"I'm very thankful to Coach (Leroy) Cotton and Dr. Randy Grierson (East Side Principal) for believing in me and giving me this chance."
East Side Athletic Director Leroy Cotton said he felt the move to hire Woodard was a good one and that he should do great with the kids.
"I think Kendrick will bring discipline and stability to the position. He has been at the center of the success the team has experienced over the years. The kids are very familiar with him, and I believe they will play hard for him," said Cotton.
For Woodard, working with the football team for seven years is crucial to the success the team will experience in the upcoming season.
"I've seen a lot of guys come and go,” Woodard said. “I know these kids and they know me. They know my expectations and they know my work ethic. They understand what we want to do and how we want to go about doing it. These kids have been really excited during our spring workouts. They were happy just to see me get the interim job, but they are behind me and I am behind them.”
One of the things that Woodard brings to the head coaching job is a state championship mentality. Woodard is the only active coach on the school's staff that has won a state championship. Last season, Woodard led the Trojans to their first ever-state championship in any male team sport by winning the 3A State Boys Track and Field Championship.
"That's pretty important to me,” Woodard said. “I hope that I will be able to instill in the guys the kind of work it takes to win a state championship. Most times when you are successful in one sport, it spills over to other programs. Over the past two years we have won the state in track and finished 14-1 the last two years and in the top five in the state in football the last two years," said Woodard.
When it comes to Woodard's vision for the team, he said it would be a combination of things from the last couple of years.
"Defensively we are going to be aggressive. Offensively we are going to take a little from the spread system and some things from the power run game and put it all together," Woodard added.
Being named head coach as the team prepares for the annual Delta Touchdown Club Football Jamboree, which will be held Saturday, is a big deal for Woodard.
"With the kids knowing who the coach is, that's something they won’t be worried about,” Woodard said. “The plus for us is that we can install and begin to implement our system and they won’t have to worry about learning another system with a different coach."
The jamboree will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at East Side High School and Woodard said this would be a great chance for the staff to take a look at some young talent.
"We have some guys like Quadre Butler and Barron Burns banged up so we are going to give some young guys a chance to get out there and show what they can do. We have some talented kids out here, and we want to give them a chance to make an impression," said Woodard.