Interview with Andy Boone
by Reid Althage
LAFM: How long have you coached at Avoyelles High School? What other schools have you coached at?
I was the HC at Cenla Christian Academy. I started out as an assistant coach at Deridder High School. Next, I was the junior high coach at Oakdale for 7-8 years. I got out of coaching for a little while. When my kids got old enough, I got back in to coaching with Pee Wee Football. I went on after that to Cenla Christian. Then I ended up here at Avoyelles.
LAFM: Did you grow up in Louisiana? Did you play ball in high school? Did you play ball in college?
Yes, I am from Oberlin. I played ball at Oberlin High School. I went to McNeese State and got my bachelors degree. I did not play college football.
LAFM: What made you get into coaching?
It is just one of those things I felt the Lord was calling me to do. I enjoy helping kids. When you are looking at what you want to do with the rest of your life, you end up praying about it. Coaching is something that was an option. It felt right for me, and I have always enjoyed it.
LAFM: Who are some of the best players you have ever coached?
Matthew Mcgee was a great player. He was an All-State RB for Avoyelles. Another one would be my son Wesley Boone. He was an All-State LB and played RB for me. He started as an 8th grader here and was a 2 way starter for 4 years. He actually had about 20 offers but just did not really want to play. He had played football for a long time (since he was 8) and had other interests. Another one would be Dravon Baptiste. He had something like 2100 yards rushing. He led the state during the regular season. He is at Arkansas Baptist right now.
LAFM: What is something common that you see in the great players you have coached?
They are not afraid of hard work. You got to be able to work your butt off. If you can do that, then you can be great.
LAFM: Coach, your team has an interesting philosophy and strategy. Tell us a little about it?
Well, we have not punted the football in 4 years. We onside kick every time. We go for 2 points every time. We do not practice punting or even have a punter. It is a way for our team to compete. It puts a lot of people in binds when they play us.
LAFM: How did this style of play come about?
When I got to Avoyelles, they had won one game in about 4 years. I think they had won 3-4 in the last 10 years. I went back, looked and over a 3 year period they averaged about 8 points a game. They never had (and still do not) many kids come out for football. In my first and second year, I was looking for a way to compete. We went 3-7 my first year which was not bad considering our past. Starting next year, I had read an article in Sports Illustrated on a guy in Arkansas who never punts, always kicks onside kicks, and goes for 2. He won state championships. I said well that seems like a way to compete. I implemented that strategy my second year. We went 2-8 but averaged 30 points a game. The next year we went 9-1 and lead the state in scoring (averaged 47 points a game).
LAFM: What is the main advantage to your style of play?
It changes the way other teams play. We run the double tight double wing, and I can get at least 3 yards a play. Basically, I can keep the ball forever if I have 4 plays. I mean we had a drive last year that was 24 plays, 12.5 minutes long. It really frustrates most teams. They have to change their game. Most teams that play us start onside kicking because they know they will not have the ball that much. We snap the ball with 1 second left on the play clock every down. It wears a team out. The philosophy behind us onside kicking is that our opponent is either going to score fast or we are going to get the ball back pretty quick. Our defense is barely on the field, while yours is on the field the whole game. Come the 4th quarter, the other teams defense is just completely worn out.
It is a different kind of football that lets us compete with teams that we should have no business competing against. Two years ago in the playoffs, I had 28 kids dressed out while the other team had 70. They ended up beating us 38-36. Their coach told me after the game, “Coach that was the most helpless feeling I have ever had. We could not do anything to stop you from getting 3 yards.” I have coaches tell me how they have to use a 30 to 45 minutes of practice time every day in order to prepare for our onside kicks. It takes their practice time up. It is fun and different.
LAFM: Who are some of your favorite college or pro players? College or pro coaches?
I like Peyton Manning. He is a Louisiana Guy. Peyton is a tough guy, and I like hard nosed players. I like Les Miles. He likes to gamble and do things different.
LAFM: Do you think the brand of Louisiana Football is different than anywhere else in the country?
I have to say I have never coached outside the state so I really do not know. I will say that per capita Louisiana produces more pro football players than any other state. I think we have some great coaches here. I mean just look at the kids who go on to be successful in college and the pros. I think it is a reflection on the excellent coaching they receive in the state.
LAFM: What is your advice to high school students regarding the recruiting process?
I tell them several things. Listen to your parents and make sure you are doing everything right. Make sure you are not breaking any rules. I think the biggest mistake my kids make early on is their grades. A lot of the kids do not realize that grades are one of the biggest parts of recruiting. If they do not realize it early on, it can be too late when they are recruited later in high school. The kids think if they are good enough then they will go play. That is not true. If you do not have the right GPA or ACT then you will not be recruited.
LAFM: What makes Avoyelles High School a great football program?
We are unique in the way we play the game. No one else in the state is like us. Every year I have been here, I have had at least one 8th grader start. You get a chance to play when you are young. You are going to get a lot of chances to play a lot of games. Although we lack numbers, the kids who do come out love playing our brand of football.