Mike Norris has been named head football coach at Vidalia High.
Vidalia High principal Bernie Cooley introduced Norris as the new head coach to the returning football players in the school library Monday afternoon.
Norris replaces Rob Faircloth, who was an interim coach after Dee Faircloth was forced to resign last year by an LHSAA by-law saying retired coaches in football and basketball could not be head coaches.
Rob Faircloth did not apply for the job, but said he wants to remain on staff as an assistant coach.
Norris expressed a desire to bring in a couple of other assistant coaches, as well.
"I want to create a program that brings honor to the players, the team and the community," Norris said. "These kids are tied to this community. This is what I want to do and where I want to do it."
Cooley said Norris won the job over several outstanding candidates.
"Coach Norris has done a great job here, and he was the best candidate for the job," Cooley said. "He knows the ins and outs here. Our football program is in great hands with Coach Norris."
Norris will coach the baseball team this spring with returning assistant coaches Jake Brumfield and Nick Kennedy.
"I don't want to put those guys in a bind," Norris said. "They are very capable of handling it. I just want to help with the transition. I'll talk with Coach Cooley about what we will do down the road."
Norris attended South Natchez and Franklin County high schools.
Norris said he has only applied for one other job in the past, and turned down a couple of job offers recently.
"I think you should know this because I know what we can accomplish here," Norris told the team. "I love it here. This is home."
Norris, who has been in coaching for 19 years, told the team he lost his father when he was eight. He named coaches Ed Reed and Joey Porter at South Natchez, Roy Garcia and Ken Beesley at Cathedral and Franklin County football coach Mike Goff and Franklin County baseball coach Johnny Monroe as being big influences in his life.
"Those coaches were my dad," he said. "I want to help you players be better football players, but more important be better men. If you come back here in five or so years and tell me playing football here was the best time of your life, then I know we have been successful."
Vidalia went 3-8 last year, falling to Many in the first round of the playoffs.
"There's no reason why we can't be successful here," Norris said. "This community will always support you no matter what."
Norris attended Copiah-Lincoln where he met his wife, Alicia. He moved to Utah to where her family had moved to and coached at Spanish Fort High in Utah.
"I coached football for 11 years and baseball for six or seven," Norris said. "I coached for a Hall of Fame coach in Jim Nelson, who is the winningest coach in Utah history. They have won eight state championships and in 2009 finished third in the USA Today poll. I helped with the varsity and was the junior varsity head coach."
Norris and his wife returned home in 2015, and with some assistance from former Cathedral head coach Ron Rushing, was hired to assist Vidalia head football coach Jeff Hancock.
"When I came in with Jeff I thought about one day maybe being a head coach here," Norris said.
Cooley wanted to make the decision now to bring stability to the program.
Norris was happy with the timing.
"It's all about participation and the kids wanting to be here," Norris said. "This is a good program and the school has a caring staff.
Norris was offensive coordinator two years ago when Tristan Weatherly became the first Vidalia quarterback to pass for more than 3,000 yards and Jared Simpson caught 64 passes for 1,183 yards, becoming the first Viking player to have more than 1,000 yards receiving.
"There's no such thing as a spread offense," Norris said. "You can spread the defense out. I like using the RPO (run-pass option). But I also like getting in a tight formation and running it down an opponent's throat. It's just whatever the situation or other team dictates."
Norris told the team he has one major request,
"I want everybody giving their best," Norris said. "I watch body language. It's all about attitude and effort."