Wednesday night Charles “Laury” Dupont was inducted into the Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame.
In 40 years of coaching “Coach Dupe” accumulated a 229-99 win/loss record, 11 district championships, three state championships and four Class 2A state runner-up teams.
Emile Gauchet, who spearheaded prep football coverage for WWL-870 radio for over 15 years says, that Dupont was a major influence on football in South Louisiana. “He is one of the true legends of the game not only by what he did on the sidelines, but also by teaching players about life matters. Some of the best postgame speeches I have ever heard came from the mouth of Laury Dupont. He is one of the great gentlemen of this sport.”
Dupont was head coach at Thibodaux High School , 21 years at West St. John High School and he ended his coaching career with four years at Vandebilt Catholic High School. “It’s a humbling experience,” Dupont said. “It is the pinnacle for what a coach wants to do on the field and I am humbled to be honored by my peers. I am very honored and it is really something special when you are included in a group of great players and coaches, and certainly to be included in a group that has Buddy Marcello in it.”
Dupont vividly remembers his early coaching days working for Pat Szush. “Coach Pat Szush had a great influence on my career from when he coached at E.D. White and Thibodaux High School and when he hired me he also hired a bunch of young coaches that were spitting fire and brimstone. I became a head coach at Thibodaux High School in 1982 and I don’t know if I was fully ready, but I am not sure you are really fully ready for your first coaching spot. I know we won more games than we lost, but Pat Szush had a great career impact on the success I had and the success my teams had. He preached about family first, school second and athletics third. I didn’t have a lot of rules because if it was too many you got more rules to break. My golden rules were the players don’t curse and the coaches won’t curse you, you don’t steal and you don’t lie. If I brought one of those kids in my office I already knew the truth, so he better not lie to me.”
His jump to West St. John High School brought great success on the field and it also put him up against some of the best coaches in high school football. “River Parish football is unique. It is really like the movie “Friday Night Lights”. These young men wanted to make such an impression and put on a show for everyone. I would tell the young men that this was like a movie or a restaurant. If the movie is not good you are not coming back to see it again and if the food is bad you are not going back to the same restaurant. I am so proud of what my kids did on the field, but I am most proud of maybe helping build a foundation for making a life outside of football and working well with others. When you played on the River on the other side were coaches like Rick Gaille, Tim Detillier, Lou Valdin, Mickey Roussel, Tim Robicheaux and the athletes you faced were guys like LaRon Landry, Ed Reed, Dawan Landry, Jarvis Landry- my goodness he took over late in a game like no one I had ever coached against and I could go on and on. It was a challenge each week, but I can say every one of those teams we faced played in the SuperDome for the title. You were toughened late in the year by who you played throughout the season. I know today in entering the Hall of Fame I will be followed by those other coaches one day.”
Like most coaches Dupont remembers the state championships, but the ones he lost stick in his mind also. “In 1992 we didn’t have good special teams and it cost us and then in 1993 and 1994 we lost to the University of Evangel ” Dupont laughingly said. “They were a great team, but we held our own against them.”
Dupont said his most memorable win was in 1998 against Mickey Roussel’s undefeated Riverside High School team. “We had a few injuries during the season and lost to them, but we were on different sides of the brackets and we ended up playing for the whole ball of wax. We were healthy and won it against a great team and great coach in Mickey. The community just wrapped themselves up in the win and it was the first time a state title was won for the area since Terry Robiskie and 2nd Ward High School won it back in the early 1970’s. It was just a great feeling.”
In the early 2000’s Dupont had a great run coaching future NFL performers in defensive lineman Tyson Jackson and running back Quinn Johnson. “I had two outstanding players in Quinn and Tyson and it was something to see coaches like Nick Saban and Lou Holtz around and we had coaches from USC, UCLA, Miami ( Fla. ) and Florida State around the campus. In 2003 we had eight Division-1 scholarship players. It brought some interesting recruiting stories. One of the most interesting was that of the recruitment of defensive end Tyson Jackson by Nick Saban and LSU and Miami ( Fla. ) getting involved.
“Tyson committed to Nick Saban and LSU early, but Miami ( Fla. ) came in late to try and get him to visit the school. Tyson assured me we would not go to Miami . One of my coaches called to tell me Coach Saban called and wanted to know if it was true that Tyson was visiting Miami . I told him no, that Tyson was playing basketball and he wasn’t going to Miami . The next day Tyson’s picture was on the front page of the Miami Herald and he had gone to visit the Hurricanes. To say Saban was upset was an understatement. He was livid and he lit into Tyson pretty good when he got back about his commitment and I heard about it too. To tell you the truth Tyson went only because he had never been on a plane before. That is the real reason.”
Another tremendous player Dupont coached was former Vandebilt and current UL-Lafayette star halfback Elijah McGuire. “Elijah is quite a young man. He worked so hard to get his grades in line and what a player. He was electric out on the field. He could cut on a dime and hit full speed as well as anyone, but it was his work ethic that stuck out. As a sophomore being the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year is such an honor. He has a chance to be special in college and in the pros. I will steal a line from you and say he is Louisiana ’s version of Reggie Bush.”
Dupont also recalled about being a huge LSU Tiger fan growing up and listening to the games on the radio. “Being from this part of the country I was such a big fan of Don Schwab, Joe Labruzzo and Mike Hillman, guys from on the bayou. I grew up such an LSU Tiger fan, but back then it was listening to LSU football on the radio with John Ferguson telling you about the game. It’s different today. The game has changed on how it is coached and today some of these high school athletes get as much recognition as college players. Television and the 7 on 7 tournaments have changed the football world.”
Dupont know the sacrifices of being a coach and also not having an 8-hour schedule to work and missing time from your family. “I think some people don’t realize the sacrifices a family makes when you are a coach. You miss a lot of events and family situations, but my family, children and my wife Jan never missed a game and were always in the stands. There is a lot of time away from home and you also are dealing with young men that need some guidance at times. In coaching at West St. John either you were from a family with a good job or from a family with no job. There was no middle class and it was part of my job to help those young men. Great understanding from my wife and kids and I love Jan today more than the day I married her. She’s a very special lady.”
Coach Dupe, now a spokesperson for Thibodaux Regional Medical Center , loves his new job, but like all coaches he still has that competitive fire burning. “Working for Thibodaux Regional Hospital is a great experience. Getting to work with some of the best people in their field, Greg Stock, the entire athletic training program and Coach Rod (Don Rodrigue) is fantastic, but like all coaches coaching is always in your blood. You never lose that desire to coach. I am like a boxer who thinks he has one more fight in him. I can say I truly loved coaching and getting put into the Louisiana High School Hall of Fame is the greatest honor I could have received.”
Congratulations to Thibodaux Regional Hospital and CEO Greg Stock for being recognized as "Business of the Year" by the Thibodaux Chamber of Commerce during its 48th annual banquet Thursday night at the Thibodaux Civic Center.
Thibodaux Regional is the fastest-growing hospital in the Bayou Region with an annual impact of over $175 million.
In January of 2016, Thibodaux Regional is planning to complete their new $73 million dollar Wellness/Orthopedic Clinic which will be a one of a kind facility in the state and in the Gulf South Region.
"I overheard someone say that we have technical changes going in our industry, and we have to perform well, as well as figure out which way to go. So we really appreciate the chamber's support," Greg Stock said. "We've tried to establish our culture around certain terms in our vision. One is individual excellence and team excellence. When you have a group of people that are willing to be accountable, not because we are making them and it's something inside of them, you have a great chance to win for the patients. That is what Thibodaux Regional stands for."
This year's Chamber of Commerce banquet had former New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers and UL-Lafayette quarterback Jake Delhomme as the guest speaker.
This week the New Orleans Saints unofficially made the decision that Rob Ryan was returning to the team for another year as defensive coordinator.
That was the right choice made by head coach Sean Payton.
This team has been through Gary Gibbs, Gregg Williams, Steve Spagnuolo and now Rob Ryan as defensive coordinators under Sean Payton.
The question now is not about coaching, but about personnel.
Just ask yourself the simple question.
If you are the Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, Baltimore Ravens or the Green Bay Packers who would you swap starter for starter with if you were any of the above five teams?
With the exception of cornerback Keenan Lewis, middle linebacker Curtis Lofton and despite a disappointing season, defensive end Cam Jordan, if you were any of those teams you probably wouldn’t trade any of your starters other than for the three named Saints players.
I have to give an incomplete evaluation right now to free safety Jairus Byrd since he is coming off of back and knee surgery, but if you can only have four players that you have to seriously think about it goes to show that the Saints issues on defense belong on the personnel side and finding the right “fit” players for Ryan’s defense.
My question is who made the decision to bring in veteran cornerback Champ Bailey, outside linebacker Victor Butler and defensive lineman Kenyon Coleman via veteran free agency and why is this team constantly proclaiming that cornerback Patrick Robinson is a “starting” cornerback when it has been obvious for the past three seasons he doesn’t have the ball reaction skills to start at the NFL level.
LSU defensive end Danielle Hunter became the third Tiger defender to announce they would give up their senior season of college football to turn pro early.
The 6-4, 259 pound defender projects as a second round pick for the 2015 NFL draft and I currently have the MortonRanch High School in Texasstandout ranked as the 43rd best overall player for the late April draft.
In 2014 Hunter registered 73 tackles, 1 ½ quarterback sacks, 13 tackles for losses, 6 pass deflections, 2 quarterback hurries and he forced one fumble.
Hunter’s low sack total has been a cause of debate on just how good of a pass rusher the speedy edge rusher is. I do know Hunter is an athlete of the highest level and his potential as a pass rusher will have him going either late in Round 1 or very early in Round 2.
“I just laugh when I hear LSU folks criticize him for not being a good football player or much of a pass rusher,” an SEC offensive line coach told me this week. “Stats are deceiving sometimes. The folks that are critical of him never had to figure out how to block him or try and block him. When we have played against him we paid special attention to making sure we had help in blocking him in pass rush situations. This year we used a back or a tight end to help out in obvious passing situations. He knows how to use his arms and hands well to come off of a block, but he doesn’t seem to have a great array of moves and countermoves to get to the passer. That’s not a talent issue, but a coaching issue on LSU’s part. He has one hard “speed” move, but even with a limited set of moves, he was tough to block. Hunter is a very instinctive player and he can chase down backs with ease from the backside. He is not as explosive an edge rusher like Barkevious Mingo was at LSU, but he is a far more physical player and a much better run defender than Mingo was.”
With Hunter declaring early it assures that LSU will have a defensive lineman drafted in 12 straight years. No college can come close to matching that type of success in recruiting and developing defensive linemen for the NFL.
If Hunter goes in Round 2 as I project it will also mark the 10th time in those 12 straight years that LSU will have a defensive linemen selected in the top 88 picks.
LSU Early Entry Projections:
Danielle Hunter-Defensive End 2nd Round Projection
Jalen Collins-Cornerback 2nd Round Projection
Kwon Alexander-Outside Linebacker 3rd Round Projection
When the 2014 pro football season started there were 14 defensive backs playing in the NFL with their roots in the state of Louisiana. No other state has produced more NFL defensive backs over the last four years than the state of Louisiana and the Pelican state will add to the mix again in 2015 with the addition of Tulane cornerback Lorenzo Doss, LSU strong safety Ronald Martin and Alabama safety Landon Collins, who prepped at Dutchtown High School in Geismer.
Another Louisiana product to watch is Northwestern State (LA.) cornerback Imoan Claiborne, who earned 1st team All-Southland Conference honors in 2014 and has been invited to play in the 2015 Senior Bowl. I have Claiborne projected as a 5th or 6th round pick for the 2015 NFL draft and he will do very well in the one-on-one drills due to his outstanding athleticism leading up to the late April draft.
In 2014 Claiborne intercepted 4 passes, had 7 pass break-ups and he registered 3 fumble recoveries. Claiborne was voted to the Sports Network All-America team for 2014.
The former Alexandria High School product is anxious to showcase his skills for the NFL.
"I wasn't a very highly recruited player, only three schools offered, " Claiborne said. " I was a pretty good basketball player and a track sprinter, but I loved football. I just want to show the NFL that I am a physical player, very focused on my assignments and I just want to win. My coaches from junior high school and up just kept preaching to me about taking care of business on and off the field and that is what I am about. I really played more on the offensive side as a high school player, so I feel as though I can learn a lot more about the cornerback slot, but I won't be outworked out on the field and off it. I pattern my game after Brent Grimes with the Miami Dolphins. He's not the biggest, but he is the biggest when it comes down to fighting for position and for the football. I respect him a lot."
Claiborne says that growing up he admired Terrell Owens and he does have a favorite NFL team.
"Being a former wide receiver I really admired how good and how physical a player T.O. was with the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles. He was a great competitor and he could just pluck the ball out of the sky with ease. I will be thrilled and honored to whoever selects me and I will do my best to make them proud they selected me, but my favorite team growing up was the New Orleans Saints. I am a "Who Dat" guy."
This past Wednesday marked the 10th anniversary of the death of New Orleans television/radio/newspaper legend Buddy Diliberto.
I partnered with Buddy D on radio shows for over a dozen years on WWL-870 before his death, and I have enough stories about the legendary Buddy Diliberto that it would read as thick as War and Peace, the Russian version.
The one story I get asked about the most is how Diliberto got kicked off the New Orleans Saints team plane. At that time it was the norm for the local press to fly with the team on away games, but for Buddy D it became a calling card for his titanium backbone to speak for folks that didn’t have a great voice on what was right and what was wrong for his hometown team.
For the thousands that have asked me they have heard the story, but for the many who haven’t heard I share with you the story.
In 1972 Buddy Diliberto was the only local sports reporter to be critical of then-Saints owner John Mecom, Jr. and he was on the thinnest of ice to begin with, but Mecom hired Dick Gordon to become the Saints new executive Vice President/general manager.
Gordon had no sports roots at all and he was known because he was a Gemini and Apollo astronaut. NASA was making major cuts to the space program and Gordon retired from NASA and also the United States Navy.
Gordon's hiring had more to do with him being a celebrity, Gordon being invited to the “chic parties”, getting pictures taken with stars and politicians and being a national hero, than knowledge of the game.
Within a month of getting the top spot with the Saints Gordon spoke at the Saints Touchdown Club in New Orleansand proclaimed that the New Orleans Saints were just three players away from going to the Super Bowl.
In 1971 the Saints were 4 wins, 8 losses and 2 ties.
Diliberto just couldn’t wait to get back to the studios of then-ABC Channel 8 to give his 6 p.m. sports broadcast commentary and uttered the lines that “New Orleans Saints new Vice-President and general manager Dick Gordon says that the Saints are just three players away from the Super Bowl. What he didn’t tell you was that the three players were God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.”
Within an hour of the broadcast Diliberto was paid a visit by Mecom’s top lieutenant Fred Williams and told he was banned from the Saints plane for life, plus ten years.
In typical Buddy D fashion he tried to explain how ridiculous the comments Gordon made were, but Williams told him the decision was final, no matter how ridiculous it sounded.
Diliberto asked what the life plus ten years meant and Williams told him, “Buddy, just in case you are the second Lazarus, Mr. Mecom has his bases covered.”
It was a typical Buddy D. story, and I do miss getting those two daily phone calls from him no matter where I was. He was indeed a one of a kind guy to be around.
New Orleans-based Fox Sports reporter Jennifer Hale just finished up her fourth season as a sideline reporter for Fox Sports. Hale made the transition from news to sports in 2011 for Fox-8 in New Orleans and also nationally with the Fox Network, and in short time she has become one of the elite female sports reporters in the country.
Jen is also the sideline reporter for the New Orleans Pelicans and she took some time off of her busy schedule to give her comments on the best offensive and defensive players she has witnessed in 2014.
"The best offensive player I covered this year is hands down Aaron Rodgers with the Packers, " Hale said. "Not only is he unbelievably accurate even deep down the field, but he is also a great leader for his team and they rally around him. He fought through some adversity late, like the ankle/calf injury and he sustained that injury in the game I covered against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Just a true competitor. What sticks out about him is that in the game today with Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, certainly Drew Brees and Joe Flacco they are pocket-style quarterbacks, but with Rodgers it is his ability to maneuver around the pocket so well and throw off the run with great accuracy. He is a pocket style passer, but he also throws the ball so well on the move and it is amazing. He extends plays and his receivers like Jordy Nelson, Randall Cobb and Davante Adams make so many big plays downfield due to his improvisational skills."
"On defense no question it is J.J. Watt with the Houston Texans. I can't imagine him not winning the Defensive Player of the Year award with everything he has done this season. It certainly was a historic season for him because this season he became the only player in NFL history to record 20 or more quarterback sacks in separate seasons. He's exciting to watch and on both sides of the ball. He has scored this season in virtually every way from causing a safety, running back an interception and he showed off some of his skills earlier in his football career as a tight end by catching a touchdown pass."