COLUMBIA, MS (WDAM) - A new era has begun for Columbia High football. The Wildcats announced the hiring of Chip Bilderback as the new head coach on Monday afternoon.
"[Bilderback] defined what the C is on Columbia and that's character," said Columbia School District superintendent Jason Harris.
Bilderback replaces James Harvey, who served as Columbia's head coach from 2015-17. The Wildcats finished 3-7 in 2017 and have endured four straight losing seasons.
Bilderback joins Columbia after spending the last two seasons as the head coach of Perry Central, leading the Bulldogs to a 16-8 record during that span. Perry Central finished 10-2 this season, falling in the second round of the class 2A playoffs to eventual state champion Taylorsville.
A native of California, Bilderback served as an assistant coach at Jones County Junior College from 2014-15. Prior to that stint, Bilderback was the defensive coordinator at Purvis for eight seasons under his father-in-law Perry Wheat.
A son of a high school football coach and the husband of JCJC women's basketball coach Missy, Chip Bilderback says coaching is ingrained in him.
Bilderback is excited to join a Columbia program with rich tradition, a high school that NFL Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton had his start. Bilderback remembers a Walter Payton jersey he owned as a kid.
The Wildcats' lone state championship came in 1982. Bilderback is eager to compete in region 8-3A, home of 2017 state champion Jefferson Davis, and hopes to bring another state title back to Columbia.
"I believe you're a champion before you even stop foot on the football field," Bilderback said.