As Sterlington’s new defensive coordinator, Mark Sims inherits the task of changing the mindset of a unit that has been alarmingly generous over the past two seasons.

After allowing 27 points per tilt in 2009, things got worse last season as the Panthers surrendered an exasperating 34.2 ppg, including 40 or more in six of their 11 games.

At least there was an explanation to the defensive problems in 2009. With the secondary seeing double duty at wide receiver in the Panthers’ spread attack, the skill position players were exhausted in the second half.

With the Panthers going to a ball-control oriented veer scheme last season, the defense was on the field less, yet allowed considerably more points.

A highly-successful baseball coach, Sims quietly built an impressive football resume en route to rising through the ranks to his first position as a coordinator.

Sims coached safeties at Hahnville and West Monroe, a pair of Class 5A powers, while assisting defensive coordinators Lou Valdin and Jerry Arledge.

Meanwhile, he led both schools to several State Tournament berths as the head baseball coach, including a state runner-up finish at West Monroe.

“Lou Valdin, Jerry Arledge and (Sterlington head coach) Mike Collins — that’s three pretty good guys to learn from,” Sims said.

Sterlington is a natural fit for Sims, who lives only minutes away from the school.
“I live in this community,” Sims said. “I drove across the river for six years — and it was a great six years. I wouldn’t trade those six years for anything, but it’s time to watch my kids grow up and to be a part of this community. I’m glad to be here.”

Drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies as a lefthanded pitcher out of Ouachita Parish High School, Sims spent 10 years in the minor leagues, including one as a coach. He worked as an assistant baseball coach to Wayne Johnson at Ouachita and Jeff Schexnaider at West Monroe while completing his degree from ULM.