Interview with Josh Fontenot
By Reid Althage
LAFM: How many years have you been in coaching?
I have been in coaching for 10 years.
LAFM: What is the name of the first school you coached at? Where else have you coached?
I started out as a graduate assistant at Nichols and did that for two years. Next, I was an Offensive Coordinator at Central Lafourche, then Woodlawn (Baton Rouge), and Plaquemine. I moved to Florida and was the OC for Spruce Creek High School for 2 years. I am now the head Coach at Crowley High School.
LAFM: What made you get into coaching?
I grew up on a sweet potato farm. I knew how to farm and how to play sports. I was not farming anymore, so that left sports. I started playing college ball. Although I was not that good, I really fell in love with it. I latched on to a few coaches I really enjoyed, and they suggested coaching to me. Once I started coaching, I really enjoyed working with the kids. I love teaching them about football and about life through football. That means a lot to me. You know, every coach wants to win and enjoys playing football. Still, any coach will tell you the kids are why we do it.
LAFM Who had a major influenced on your coaching career?
I had two great parents. My mom is a coach, and my dad coached me in all of my youth sports. To be honest, the way I saw them handle situations and kids was an influence on me. They were very fair and firm while never screaming or being a dictator. I learned early on from them. Keith Menard, now coach at Central Lafourche, was my high school coach at Sacred Heart. I still have a great relationship with him. From their I had a ton of influences. I try to pick up the good and bad from everybody I worked for. One of the guys I learned the most from, and how to run a program was Kyle Acosta who has passed away now. Kyle hired me at Woodlawn. I learned a lot about coaching from Kyle and Coach Daryl Day at Nichols. They were both big on community support, and making you football team present in the community, making people accountable, and fund raising. When I was at Nichols, I saw Coach Day trying to do those things, and Kyle Acosta do those things at Woodlawn. Lastly, Craig Manuel has had the biggest influence on me and on how to manage kids, attitudes and parents. He has been on my staff both years I have been here. He is retiring this year. Craig has a way of teaching without telling you what to do and letting you make your own decisions. I am going to miss him dearly. I could not have picked a better coach to help me through my first years as a head coach. He is probably the biggest influence directly on me coaching wise.
LAFM: Did you go to college? Did you play ball?
I went to Nicholls State. I tried to play QB. I won’t say I played it. I played enough to letter a couple of years but that was it. In my last year of playing, I really started to learn how to be a coach and then went into my Graduate Assistant job. I was very fortunate to have some coaches who gave me responsibility and put me to work.
LAFM: Who are some of the best players you have ever coached?
My first year at Central Lafourche their was a QB named Jarvis Wilson. I mean one of the first high school kids I ever coached. He was and probably still is the best athlete I ever coached. He unfortunately broke his leg when we were 5-1. We did not win one game after that. Another would be Josh Son at Nichols State. Josh was our starting QB at Nicholls. I did not directly coach Josh, but I did help in a way. I was a side by side with him all the time. I was able to calm Josh down and bounce ideas off him. I learned a lot from being around him. Devante Bourque was a player I coached here at Crowley. He was a really good, top notch athlete.
I will mention Josh again because I learned a lot from him. I learned from him how you can succeed with your brain and your competitive edge. That was the first experience I had with a kid who outperformed his natural ability. He was just so competitive. Today, a player like Josh is what I am looking for in my QB.
LAFM: What would you like to see changed in Louisiana High School football?
I wish we could go closer to NCAA rules. I think Texas uses NCAA rules. I understand some of the new rules the National High School Federation makes are for safety and to protect our kids. Some of the rules we use take the small man out of the game. Lets face it, about 90% of an average high school team is undersized. For example, if smaller kids could block a different way they may be more successful. Some guys have even made the point that are hashes are too wide.
Other than that, we have the whole split thing. I think their are other ways we can handle the faults of our system. Understand I think we have a good system and good association. I do think some rules were not being enforced that should have been enforced. I do not think the split in the long run is good answer. I am a public school coach and a Catholic school graduate. I think their are definitely some things that need to be addressed. Their are some things that do not make a level playing field between the two sides, and they need to be fixed. I want to see us come back together. Nothing will ever be fair. Fair just does not exist. I do think their are things that can be done which will make it more of a level playing field. Either way it is Not going to change the way I coach. I just wish we could come up with a better solution.
LAFM: Do you think the brand of Louisiana football is different than anywhere else?
I think Louisiana high School football is some of the most competitive football in the country. Look at who we sign, and who we send to the pros. I have been in other states. Our good teams from here are just as good or better than the ones in Florida. I am proud of being from Louisiana. I am proud to coach here.
LAFM: Do you feel like the offense/defensive philosophies differ between North and South Louisiana?
I do not think their is a different philosophy. Up north, I feel that most of the time you are going to get a pretty physical game. Still, you can look at Carrol who go empty every down and throw the ball (atleast when we played them). Then you go play Wossman and West Monroe and they are going to pound on you a bit. I think you have the idea of who wants to be a spread team, and who wants to be a power football team. That is the two philosophies going forward. Do you want to win with defense or offense?
Their is a million ways to play. It really depends on your players. When I first got here, we were a lot more spread than we were last year. I think most of us as coaches are successful when we can adapt. The guys who are not successful are the ones that say “this is what I do, this is what we are going to be.” If your at a school where you get the same kid over and over again then that is fine. I have never been to a school where I had the same kind of athlete. I think you need to be open minded without losing the integrity of what you do.
LAFM: Who is your favorite NFL or college player of all time and why?
One NFL player would have to be Dan Marino. I was just amazed at how quickly he got the ball out of his hand.
My favorite overall would probably be Chad Loup at LSU. He was the QB during the down years at LSU. You may not know who he is, but I know Lee (Brecheen) will know. I grew up an LSU fanatic. My dad was a walk-on at LSU. When I was 8 or 7 years old, my aunt married Harold Loup. Harold Loup is the father of Chad Loup. I got to go through Chad Loup’s recruiting process at LSU, and saw all the behind the scenes activities. I grew up a Chad Loup fanatic. I mean I wore number 16 in high school and wanted to wear it in college. Chad adopted a lot of little cousins through his dads marriage. He always gave us attention, spent time with us, and threw balls with us on Sundays.
LAFM: Who is your favorite college or pro football coach and why?
I loved Michigan and Bo Shembechler as a kid. Why? I do not know. I had an uncle or something. Also, I was a fan of Gene Stallings. I loved both of those coaches. With the knowledge I have on those guys now, I have a bunch of admiration for both of them.
LAFM: What makes Crowley High School a great school and great football program?
I would say the direction we are heading in as a football program and as a school. We are in a transition phase right now. We are trying to approach things a different way. I am trying to get the community involved. We want to give the Crowley a football program they can be proud of. We are still working on that and have a ways to go. This year, going to the playoffs and having a good record was a big step towards our goals. Now, we are not satisfied with what we have done. Our community has been very good in supporting us. I try to go out with the kids, raise money, and let them have an identity with our community and our community with us. Crowley High is starting to become a community school and community football program. I think what we have going on here makes us a team to watch for in the future.
We have a bunch of extremely good, well-mannered, smart kids. I am extremely proud of them and would bring them anywhere. We are going in the right direction towards involving our community, letting them be apart of what we do, and giving them something to be proud of.