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High School Sports

June 3, 2014

H.S. FOOTBALL: Charlestown names Ward new head coach

Former Corydon coach went 60-27, won sectional

CHARLESTOWN — The musical chairs of Mid-Southern Conference coaches is going to make for some interesting new rivalries in Southern Indiana.

Just a couple weeks after Silver Creek hired Jason Hawkins away from Charlestown, Charlestown has done the same with Corydon Central’s Darin Ward.

“I think it’s a commitment the conference is making to football,” Ward explained of the recent big hires in the MSC. “With Reed May [at Brownstown], [former Jeff and current Clarksville coach] Steve Cooley and Mo Moriarty for a couple of years, it’s good for the league and for southeastern Indiana football. There are some quality coaches in the Mid-Southern Conference.”

As impressive as the resumé Hawkins built at Charlestown, it can be argued that Ward’s is more remarkable. In eight years at Corydon — two stints sandwiching two years at Crawford County and four at Jasper as associate head coach and defensive coordinator — Ward went 60-27 after taking over a program with almost no history of success. Ward’s Panthers won a sectional in 2011 — the program’s first in school history.

“We’re excited to have someone like Darin at Charlestown High School,” athletic director Chad Gilbert said. “He will be a tremendous coach. What sets Darin apart is Darin’s teams don’t beat themselves. When you have teams that don’t beat themselves, they’re going to have a chance to win each and every night.”

The former Indiana University receiver and student assistant coach’s respect for Gilbert — and the history of Charlestown football — was also a factor in his decision to make the 35-mile move.

“I’m really intrigued with the commitment Charlestown is making to all of its athletic programs,” Ward said. “Chad Gilbert is being proactive and wants to do well with all of the athletic programs. I think Charlestown is making a commitment to want to be successful in all phases of the school.

“I’ve always been impressed with the hard-nosed, blue-collard football at Charlestown. I see it as an improvement in my day-to-day life. At the end of the day, it’s what’s best for my career, myself and my family.”

Despite Ward’s resumé, it won’t be easy to replace Hawkins in Charlestown. In seven years, Hawkins won four MSC titles along with a sectional crown two seasons ago. However, Ward feels he can win immediately.

“I think a foundation has been laid by Coach Hawkins,” Ward said. “You have to appreciate what he’s accomplished and what he’s done. I’m going to come in Day 1 and teach fundamentals and work ethic and accountability and talk up the tradition of Charlestown football. When all is said and done, players win games and coaches tend to lose them. I’ve never won a game by myself, but I’ve probably lost a few. It’s always about the kids.”

With the latest move, there will be several dates to mark on your MSC football calendar. Charlestown will now have four legitimate football rivals in Clarksville, Silver Creek, Brownstown Central and Corydon Central.

“I think that’s something that will addressed,” Ward said of the potential powderkeg of the Pirates’ Sept. 19 game against Hawkins and the Dragons and their Oct. 3 contest against the Panthers. “One game isn’t gong to win you a championship. I know [the Corydon] kids are disappointed and I know the Charlestown kids are disappointed. When we play Silver Creek, they’ll look over the other sideline and feel like that’s their coach. Hopefully we can keep it in the right context and do it the right way.”

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