Branning returns to sidelines|[07/22/08]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ex-VHS coach now leading Tallulah Academy football program

TALLULAH – Doug Branning peered at the Tallulah Academy football schedule, then unfolded a map of Louisiana. One by one he found where each of the Trojans’ opponents’ schools was located.

The first 10 days have been quite a learning process for the 54-year-old diehard Mississippi State supporter.

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Branning, who retired as assistant principal at Vicksburg High at the end of the school year, began his first coaching gig in a dozen years when he became head football coach and athletic director at Tallulah Academy.

“There are a lot of things to be done, but that is to be expected,” said Branning, who has spent his first 10 days buried under paperwork, meeting his new team and parents and learning Louisiana history.

Branning is the Trojans’ fifth coach in the past three years. Last year, the Trojans won one game all season, but the team returns 10 seniors.

“His heart is in the right place, we like him and respect him,” Tallulah sophomore Cody Landrum said. “He has some pretty tough workouts. We’re just trying our hardest to be the best.”

Branning is no stranger to the coaching ranks. He coached 9th grade and was an assistant varsity coach at Vicksburg High and the Gators’ baseball coach until 1996. He also had coaching stints at Warren Central and said the bug bit him again.

“I knew I wanted to coach again, but didn’t know if I would get the opportunity,” Branning said. “I’m tickled to death to get another opportunity.”

The Trojans begin preseason workouts on July 28 and open the season on Aug. 22 at defending Class A champion Glenbrook. They have already been awarded a victory after one of their scheduled opponents was put on probation.

Branning doesn’t anticipate it being the only victory.

“I’m aware they won one game last year, but I haven’t really paid attention to what has happened in the past,” Branning said of a Trojans’ program starved for victories for the past three seasons. “I plan on us winning a lot more than one game this year, I will tell you that.”

For now, he’ll do it on his own. Tallulah is still seeking an assistant coach. Finding someone to fill that spot is a high priority for Branning.

“It’s not a sport you can coach by yourself,” he said.

In the short time he has seen his team, he knows they have speed. He said he is not concerned with the Xs and Os and wouldn’t give specifics on what offense he plans to run.

“We will have a varied offense and use the whole field,” Branning said.

Landrum, one of the team’s running backs, just wants to hit the field.

“We are tired of working out. We want to hit somebody,” he said.