Interview with Kenny Sears
by Reid Althage
LAFM: Where did you go to High School? College?
I went to Holy Cross High School in New Orleans. I went to Northwestern State for College.
LAFM: Did you play football? What position?
Yes, I played at Holy Cross then went on to play at Northwestern State. I actually was recruited as a LB. I ended up playing O-Line one year and then played Defensive End my last two years.
LAFM: How many years have you been coaching? How many years have you been at St. Paul’s High School?
I have been in coaching for 24 years and all of them have been at St. Pauls. I started off as an assistant for Coach Harry Nunez. Once he retired in 99, I stepped in and have been the head coach ever since.
LAFM: What made you get into coaching?
I enjoy and have a passion for football. When I got out of college, I really was not sure what I wanted to do. I decided to give high school football a chance. Coach Nunez had coached me at Holy Cross, and I knew he needed an assistant. I ended up coming out to St. Paul’s and have been here going on 25 years now. I have kind of fallen in love with it. Being around the kids, having them work towards a goal, getting them focused, and everything else that comes with coaching, I have enjoy on a daily basis.
LAFM: What coaches had an influence on you and how you coach?
Certainly Coach Harry Nunez was a tremendous influence on me at Holy Cross and St. Paul’s. He influenced me in just the way he treated everyone with respect. Coach Bennett, who was a basketball coach and long time AD at St. Paul, was just a tremendous gentleman and caretaker. He took a great deal of interest with each kid, each athlete, and how to teach and train them. Obviously being a kid in the Catholic League, I admired all the coaches in the Catholic League. At the time it was Coach Henry Rando my coach at Holy Cross. Their was Coach Bob Conlin at Brother Martin. Coach Billy Murphy at Jesuit and Coach Hank Tierny at Shaw. You had to admire all those guys being in such a competitive district and the great job they did. All of those guys were guys I looked up to.
LAFM: St. Paul’s has a history of great football players. Can you talk about some of these guys and why they are so great?
It is so hard to rank any but I can give you a few off the top of my head. One is Dillon Long who is playing at McNeese right now. Dillon is probably one of the best all around backs I have ever had. Mickey Johnson who is at LSU. Houston Bates is a Defensive Lineman at Illinois. Alex Williams was a real good QB for us.
I would say they all bought into the team concept. In some cases, our kids have had to learn to work hard. Overall, we have a system where guys are constantly looking over their shoulder, and they have no other choice but to get better in order to play.I think that makes them better players, better people, and gives them that edge. I think all those guys had that edge and it helped them go on to the next level.
LAFM: I know your team had a great district win streak end this year. What was the key to you guys success during the streak? How is your team so consistent?
We had a 33 game district win streak which snapped this year. Honestly, we really did not think much about it. We have always been a team that focuses on one game at a time. One of our strengths as a team is not getting ahead of ourselves. Taking one week and doing what we need to do to get better in that week is what our team does.
LAFM: Do you think the brand of Louisiana football is different than anywhere else in the country?
Great high school football starts with great community. I think that is something special to Louisiana. Whether it is in the private sector or public sector, every community has a team and rallys around their team. I think per capita our talent pool is tremendous. It can be compared to any other state in the country. I think many of the people in this state identify with their high school team in a lot of ways more so than even their college. It is just the nature of Louisiana which makes it special.
LAFM: Do you think it is advantageous for football players to play other sports?
Yes. Since I have been here, we have always encouraged kids to play other sports. The days of specialization are here, but at the same time you want high school kids to experience as much as possible. Now some sports do go hand in hand. I think it is important for coaches to communicate with each other and not over train an athlete and just stay on the same page with each other. I know it is difficult for an athlete to be in 3 different sports as well as even 2, but some can do it. Coaches communicate with each other, work in training the athlete, and do it the right way. It just gives kids more opportunity in high school to experience different things. It also allows athletes to keep their competitive edge. Sometimes when you focus on one thing year around you lose that competitive edge. When you transition into another sport, it helps keep that edge.
LAFM: What is your advice to St. Paul’s students in regards to the recruiting process?
Well, I tell them to keep it in perspective. When you have an offer, it is not binding till you sign the papers. Sometimes you need to be patient with the process. Now, it is common for schools to try and find that athlete at an early age. I do not know if that is a good thing. Each Kid develops at a different pace, and some may not develop until they are a senior in high school. One thing I tell kids is to hang in their, compete at a high level, and everything will take care of itself. The number one thing I tell them though is that every college coach that has ever walked in my office does not exactly ask about how fast, how good, or how tall you may be. What they always ask is what are your grades. They ask to see your transcript first. That is the most important part, because the 2nd part is not going to happen if you do not have the grades and ACT score. You need to focus on being a student and then being an athlete comes 2nd. If you take care of that first, then it opens the door if you do have the ability.
LAFM: Can you name a few of your favorite games at St. Paul’s High School? What made them special?
You know it is kind of hard to remember wins. You remember losses more so than wins. We have had a lot of great victories over the years. I remember the first time we beat covington back in 04. I really felt that was when we started to turn around our program and became the team we are now. Another signature win would probably have been the year before against Fountainebleau. They were heavy favorites in that game. Also, both Higgins playoff victories were special. I think that was in 08 and 09. Both games we came from behind and won in the last few seconds of the game.
LAFM: What makes St. Paul’s High School a great school, and a great football program?
I am really proud of our school and our kids and the effort they put in to our school. We are a tough school academically, but it is much more than that. It is really a special place and I am lucky to have been here for 25 years. Not many coaches have that opportunity. Part of it is the Christian Brothers that are present at the school along with the rest of the faculty. They makes it a really special place. Everyone works toward one goal which (more than anything else) is making our kids become better people . We certainly take that and put it into our program. We want the kids to understand what a great place this is, and how important it is for them to go out each day and do the best they can. Not only for us, but for themselves so they become better people.