Ray Woodard begins his fourth season at the helm of the Lamar football program in 2013 with a promising future on the horizon.
The 2012 season saw Lamar compete against a pair of Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams for the first time since reinstating the program. The Cardinals, who finished 4-8 on the year, took on former conference rival Louisiana-Lafayette and also took a trip to face the University of Hawaii.
Under Woodard in 2012, Lamar had the Southland Conference Newcomer of the Year in wide receiver Kevin Johnson and a pair of Cardinals earned all-conference accolades. Johnson tied the school record with 13 touchdowns on the season, catching 10 scores, returning two kickoffs and adding a rushing touchdown.
Senior offensive lineman Sean Robertson and junior defensive lineman Jesse Dickson were both named to the all-conference second-team as Lamar played its second full Southland Conference schedule since restarting the program in 2010.
In 2011, Lamar was able to compete as a full member of the Southland Conference and Woodard guided the Cardinals to a pair of conference road wins on their way to a 4-7 overall record and a 2-5 league mark.
For the second straight year, Woodard's Cardinals rewrote the Lamar record books. Seven individual and six team records were either set or tied during the 2011 campaign.
Lamar had a pair of players earn second-team All-Southland Conference honors in wide receiver J.J. Hayes and offensive lineman Anthony Oden. Six other Cardinals earned honorable mention all-conference honors, including wide receiver Marcus Jackson who signed a free agent deal to play for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons following the 2012 draft.
All this coming on the heels of an historic year in 2010. Not only did the Cardinals take the field for the first time since 1989, but they turned a lot of heads with their immediate success on the gridiron.
In their very first game - at McNeese State on Sept. 4 - they set a school record with 429 passing yards, and two weeks later - at Southeastern Louisiana - quarterback Andre Bevil led a fourth-quarter comeback that sparked a 29-28 victory over the stunned highly-favored Lions.
Woodard guided the Cardinals to a 5-6 overall record, which included a 4-2 mark in newly refurbished Provost Umphrey Stadium while playing in front of capacity crowds in their first four home games. The overall record does not begin to tell the story of the renewed excitement and school pride that were returned to the Beaumont campus.
Although the Cardinals were not eligible for the Southland Conference championship during the 2010 season, the excitement generated by Lamar's resurrection of the football program was reflected in the fact Woodard was one of five finalists voted for the Southeast Texas Press Club's 2010 Newsmaker of the Year Award.
McNeese State was ranked 11th in the nation when the Cardinals put a scare into the Cowboys before falling 30-27 in the season opener for both teams. A week later, playing its home opener in front of a red-clad crowd of 16,600, Lamar earned its first victory in over two decades by a 21-14 margin over Webber International.
Lamar added four more victories, including the impressive 29-28 come-from-behind win at Southeastern Louisiana. A high-powered offense, which set 15 team or individual records during the season, became the signature for the 2010 Cardinals who closed the year with a dominating 44-6 dismantling of Oklahoma Panhandle State.
Woodard was named the eighth football coach at Lamar University by university president James Simmons and then athletics director Billy Tubbs on May 19, 2008. He came to Lamar after serving three seasons at Navarro College - the first two as defensive coordinator and the final as head coach. His 2007 squad went 9-3 and advanced to the conference playoffs for the first time in six seasons.
Navarro defeated defending national champion Blinn College on consecutive weeks before rolling past Kilgore - the SWJCFC regular-season champion - on the road 54-28 to earn the school's first bowl bid since the 1990s.
Navarro claimed a 24-21 win over Georgia Military in the Pilgrim's Pride Bowl to finish the year ranked fourth in the NJCAA national poll. For his efforts, Woodard was named the SWJCFC Coach of the Year.
From 2003-05, Woodard served as the head football and track coach at Burton (Texas) High School, with the Panthers winning the district title in track in 2004. He spent two years as the defensive coordinator at Livingston (Texas) HS from 1998-2001 and one season at Trinity HS in 1997-98. Trinity went 7-3 in 1997.
Woodard spent three years as the defensive coordinator for the Scottish Claymores from 2000-03 during his second stint with an NFL Europe franchise.
Woodard's other professional coaching experience came as the general manager/head coach for the Houston Outlaws (1999-2000) of the Regional Football League, defensive coordinator of the Frankfurt Galaxy (1996-97) of NFL Europe and the Texas Terror (1996) of the Arena Football League.
Woodard's first experience at the NCAA level came in 1998 when he was the defensive line coach at Louisiana-Lafayette. Lineman Danny Scott registered eight sacks, which ranks fourth in the ULL single-season list.
From 1988-95 Woodard was the defensive coordinator at Kilgore College and recruited more than 200 Texas high school student-athletes. The Rangers appeared in back-to-back Shrine Bowls in 1989 and 1990. Kilgore had a 9-2 record in 1990, won the conference championship and was ranked as high as No. 6 in the country.
Woodard also had a successful playing career, from his days at Corrigan-Camden HS to Kilgore College and the University of Texas to five years in the NFL. After earning 13 letters in four sports at Corrigan-Camden from 1975-79, he walked on at Kilgore College then went on to became a two-time All-America selection as a defensive tackle from 1980-81. The Rangers finished the 1980 season ranked No. 2 in the NJCAA rankings after posting a 10-1 record and winning the TJCFC Championship.
Woodard then finished his college career at Texas under coach Fred Akers. The 1982 team went 9-3 and finished the season ranked 17th nationally. As a senior in 1983, Woodard and the Longhorns posted a perfect 11-0 regular-season mark, captured the Southwest Conference championship and finished the season ranked fifth in the nation. Texas led the nation in total defense, yielding an average of 212 yards per game along with and average of 9.5 points per game.
Woodard was selected in the eighth round of the 1984 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. He spent the next five seasons with the Chargers, Denver Broncos and Kansas City Chiefs. He was a member of the Broncos' 1986 AFC Champion and Super Bowl team.
Woodard received his bachelor's degree in kinesiology and history from Sam Houston State University in 1988 and his master's in education from the University of Texas at Tyler in 1991.
Woodard and the former Penne Striedel have been married since March, 1982. The couple has one daughter, Jessica, who was married in April, 2010, to Eric Martin. Woodard and his wife also became proud grandparents on Apr. 23, 2012, as Trey DeSoto Martin was welcomed into the world.
RAY WOODARD YEAR-BY-YEAR