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.”