MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - Martez Edwards was formally introduced to the Meridian community Monday at a press conference on the Meridian high school campus. Edwards, who was most recently the head coach at Forest Park (GA), replaces Calvin Hampton who led the Wildcats to a 21-18 overall record in three years.
Edwards previously applied to the Meridian job that Hampton ultimately received but didn’t let the first rejection sway his desire to apply again.
“When we set our goals, sometimes we stumble,” Edwards said. “You got to turn your stumbling blocks into stepping stones. And, you know, I’m a man of great faith. I knew if I didn’t get it three years ago, there’s a reason why. God has his plan.”
Edwards said he was initially attracted to the prospect of one day coaching at Meridian when he was on a recruiting trip in 2008 where he witnessed the Wildcats upset South Panola in the State Championship. At that time, he was struck by the passion from the fan base.
“It was so many different thing and the community was one of them. The fan base: the pride, the tradition, those were the things that initially attracted me the most.”
Meridian Athletic Director Chuck Butler, who had an instrumental role in the filing of the position three years ago, noted that Edwards applying again reaffirmed that he was serious about the position.
“We had a real good pool of candidates as far as football goes,” Butler said. “But Martez separated himself in what we felt like he would do for our kids are far as loving them and energizing the community. He just has a lot of energy about him and we just felt like he would be the best fit.”
Butler, Meridian high school principal, Victor Hubbard, and Edwards spoke on the importance of a coach that would teach the game of football as well as character to the student-athletes.
“When they look on the field and see what those kids are doing, they look in the community and see what those kids are doing, they look at the classroom and see what those kids are doing, that’s when the community will know I’m the guy that needs to be here,” Edwards said.
Edwards’ desire to reach his players outside of the football field is ultimately one of the factors that led to his hire.
“He’s going to be in the community,” Butler said. “Our players are going to get into the community and I think it’s something that the city of Meridian should look forward to embracing because we’re not just going to be here playing Friday nights in the fall, we’re going to be in the community year round with this.”
Prior to his stint at Forest Park, Edwards was the head coach at Bessemer City (AL). He guided the team to a 30-18 mark, with trips to the Alabama 6A playoffs in each of his four seasons with the Purple
Tigers. Edwards resume also includes a brief period in the NFL and collegiate coaching experience at Howard and Jackson State.