Rajan Nanavati, Editor and Founder of Hail To The District
While most people will mention states like Texas and Florida when you talk about states that produce the best football programs from smaller towns (or even larger towns and cities), but those who really know football are well aware of how football-crazy the state of Louisiana can be. Some of the greatest talent in football history has gone to school in the state of Louisiana, and the state has also seen its share of incredible high school coaches as well.
To that end, here’s our list of the greatest current small town high school football coaches in Louisiana:
Tommy Minton, St. Charles Catholic High School — Tommy Minton, the head coach of St. Charles Catholic High School in LaPlace, Louisiana (which has a population of fewer than 30,000 people) is one of the winningest coaches in state history, with exactly 200 wins — and less than 100 losses — to his name. The longtime coach at Patterson High School turned his last stop into one of the most fertile recruiting areas for colleges in Louisiana and led St. Charles to the state championship game in 2016. At St. Charles, Monica has averaged more than 10 wins per season over the past 15 seasons.
Dennis Dunn, Pineville High School — It’s rare to see a successful college head coach take “the step down” to coach in the high school ranks, but that’s exactly what we saw when Dennis Dunn stepped down from his position at Louisiana College to take the job at Pineville High School in Pineville, Louisiana (a town of fewer than 15,000 people). After leading Louisiana college for 11 years, Dunn went back to his high school roots, where he became one of 50 Louisiana prep coaches to win 200 games. He had been a high school head coach for 19 years and won nine LHSAA titles.
Paul Trosclair, Eunice High School — Paul Trosclair is a coaching legend at Eunice High School in Eunice, Louisiana (Population: 10,279). The coach has been the head man there for 21 years and has led teams to the state championship on two separate occasions. A proponent of the old-school Wing-T offense (which he’s been running for over two decades, Trosclair’s brand of football is much more of your throwback style, especially when compared to today’s spread-style of offense. While his teams haven’t been major contenders in recent years, Trosclair is still among the top 10 active coaches in Louisiana football history, with 218 wins.
Don Jones, Patterson High School — Most coaches are inducted into the Hall of Fame long after they’ve retired from the sport. But don’t tell that to 69-year old Don Jones, who just accepted the head coaching position at Patterson High School in Patterson, Louisiana (Population: 6,061). With a career record of 233-151-3, Jones is among the all-time winningest head coaches in Louisiana football history. That led him to be enshrined in the Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame in the spring of 2016. Instead of slowing down at his age, Jones is relishing the opportunity to lead his seventh different high school program.
Dalton Faircloth, Vidalia High School — There’s nothing better in life than the return of a triumphant hero. That’s what we saw with head coach Dalton “Dee” Faircloth at Vidalia High School in Vidalia, Louisiana (a town of just over 4,000 residents). After compiling a record of 249-187-6, which ranked 22nd among Louisiana high school football coaches, Faircloth had to step down from his position as head coach at Vidalia to undergo chemotherapy treatment for prostate cancer. He has been in remission since treatment and spent the past three years as an assistant coach. However, when former head coach Jeff Hancock accepted a position elsewhere, the school’s administration couldn’t possibly give the position to anyone else.
Lewis Cook, Rayne High School — Head coach Lewis Cook of Rayne High School (his alma mater) in Rayne, Louisiana (home of just over 8,000 people) has led three different high schools to 30 state playoff appearances in 32 years. The head coach has 23 district and four state titles to his name as well. By the end of the 2017 season, Cook had accumulated a staggering 344-82 record, ranking him third in Louisiana history among active coaches and fifth all-time in the state. Cook also spent eight seasons as an offensive coordinator at the college level, coaching at UL-Lafayette over two different stints, where he coached former NFL quarterback (and Louisiana native) Jake Delhomme.
Jerry Arledge, West Monroe High School – Jerry Arledge has been a part of the West Monroe Rebel football program for almost a quarter of a century, helping lead the team to eight state championships as defensive coordinator and numerous district titles as head coach. After succeeding the winningest head coach in school history (Don Shows), Arledge cemented his own legacy in West Monroe (population: 12,922) with the teams 15th Class 5A state finals berth and 12-2-1 overall record, leading to him being named the 2016 All-NELA Big Schools Coach of the Year. Under Arledge’s regime, the school just racked up its 21st consecutive district championship.
Jim Hightower, St. Thomas More Catholic High School — If you’re carving busts of high school head coaches in the state of Louisiana, then Jim Hightower, the coach of St. Thomas More Catholic High School in Lafayette, Louisiana would undoubtedly have to be included on the list. He’s one of only two coaches in the history of Louisiana football to accumulate more than 400 wins, and over the course of his coaching career, his teams have averaged over nine wins per season. Just shy of his 70th birthday, Hightower led the Cougars to their first LHSAA title in 2016; it was the second LHSAA title for Hightower, who won the Class 1A title as head coach at Catholic-Pointe Coupee back in 1978. While Hightower originally hails from California, he’s spent the vast majority of his life in Louisiana, the state where his two parents also happened to be from.