Aldridge comes home to lead Okolona

Calvin Aldridge is looking forward to spending his 20th season as a high school football coach on his home turf.
For Aldridge, 49, that’s Okolona.
He was named the Chieftains’ new coach earlier this summer and replaced Marty Warren, who coached there one season.
“Once a Chieftain, always a Chieftain,” said Aldridge, a graduate of Okolona, Itawamba Community College and North Alabama. “It’s an honor for me to represent Okolona as its football coach. It’s always special to come back home.”
Aldridge, who spent the last two years as head coach at Marion County (Ga.) High School, spent seven seasons as Southaven’s head coach prior to that move.
The attraction of the Okolona job, he said, was coming home.
“A lot of things came into play,” he said of his decision to return to Mississippi. “That main thing was that it was eight hours away.
“We’ve got a lot of building to do here, but we’ve always had a good pool of athletes in Okolona. We’ve had a lot of good coaches here and a lot of great talent.”
He added, “That helps with making good coaches,” then laughed.
Okolona athletics director, Bobby Ford, said the community being familiar with Aldridge will make the transition a lot smoother.
“I think he’ll do a great job for us,” Ford said.
Aldridge, who is the brother of Tupelo High School defensive coordinator Lamar Aldridge, says his wife, Elyse, is the new girls basketball coach at Kosciusko High.
He’ll install a multiple system on offense and defense this fall.
“I believe in running the ball, but we’ll mix it up,” he said. “Defensively, we’ll use some four and five fronts … whatever works.”
Okolona opens its 2009 season Aug. 28 against Houlka.

Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal