As an assistant coach at Captain Shreve, J.D. Stephens played a role in building a state championship baseball team.
Now, Stephens would like nothing better than to do the same thing at Benton High School.
Earlier this week, Stephens was named the head coach at Benton. He replaces Brian France, who stepped down after two years as interim head coach.
France will remain as an assistant along with Bryan George and Todd Self.
Stephens has spent the last nine years as an assistant at Shreve. The Gators won the 2006 Class 4A state title and finished runner-up the next year.
He said he learned a lot from the two head coaches he served under — current Airline athletic director Ronnie Coker and current Gators coach Todd Sharp.
This is his first head coaching job, something he said has always been a goal.
“I’ve always wanted to, but at the same time I wanted to be patient and go to a place that’s going in a positive direction and there’s no better place than Benton.”
Stephens said he was impressed by new Benton principal Mitch Downey’s vision for the school both athletically and academically.
“It’s a vision I want to be a part of and I’m excited to be a part of,” he said.
Benton finished 17-13 this past season and tied for second in District 1-4A. Two years ago, the Tigers finished second in District 2-4A after losing a winner-take-all game to Haughton on the last day of the regular season.
Stephens said he sees a lot of potential for Benton baseball, especially with the players the Tigers have returning in 2013.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to sit down and talk to them,” he said. “They’re not only great athletes but good kids. I’m looking forward to working with them and seeing where we can go.
“To be honest with you, coach France has done a great job the last couple of years and that’s one of the things I’m thankful for, that he’s going to stay on board as an assistant.”
Stephens will have a chance to see his future players in action later this month when the Dixie Majors and Pre-Majors seasons begin. He said George will handle the coaching duties this summer.
Stephens is no stranger to Bossier Parish. He is a 2000 graduate of Haughton where he was a baseball standout.
He also played two years at BPCC before finishing his education at LSUS.