Feb 14, 2011
Fontenot Wins No. 800

OPELOUSAS — First a coaching milestone. Then talk of an extended run into the playoffs.

For North Central High basketball coach Butch Fontenot, it’s been more than a special season that includes a personal accomplishment few state coaches have claimed.

Fontenot won his 800th career game when NCHS defeated Westminster Christian Academy 93-62 Thursday night.

The win enabled Fontenot to enter a diminutive victory circle of boys’ state coaches.

Ahead of Fontenot with more than 1, 000 wins are only Joel Hawkins, who coached at Lake Providence and Southern Lab, and the late Leslie Gaudet at Pine Prairie.

In December, Louisiana coaching veteran Danny Fletcher won his 900th game in a tournament hosted by his Rosepine team.

As he exited the WCA gym, Fontenot said he expects larger things from his team, now 26-4 and ranked No. 2 in last week’s Class A state polls.

“I think this is a special team. This team is as close as any I’ve had. Not the most talented, but they just play well together. We’re going to win the championship in Class A, said Fontenot, a 70 year-old veteran with an overall record of 801-296 after another win Friday night over St. Edmund-Eunice.

For several minutes on Thursday night, however, Fontenot, who has coached at NCHS since the school opened in 1991 and at Class B Washington High, had the spotlight focused on himself.

He posed for pictures with his team, greeted old friends with extended handshakes, and enjoyed congratulations from St. Landry Parish school officials.

Then he discussed the significance of the achievement.

Right now, this (800 wins) means so much, because I don’t think there will be another coach that is going to come behind me, Fontenot said. It’s almost impossible, because of the way leagues are structured now and the number of games that you can play.”

Longtime Midland principal Clyde Briley, whose boys teams at the school won 421 games in 17 seasons, agrees.

“It takes a lot of years to get there (800). As things are now, it’s going to be a lot harder to do, Briley said. “Years ago, a (non-football school) was able to play maybe 45 or 50 games. Now it’s fewer than that, maybe 35, even if you go into the playoffs.”

Fontenot also acknowledges the length of his career has played a part, something he said wasn’t anticipated.

That brings into question whether he wants to catch Hawkins and Gaudet.

“To get to 1, 000 (wins), I would have to go three or four more years. Seriously, I’m going to go three. I really never wanted to coach this long, but it’s so easy when you’re winning, he said.

Former Palmetto boys basketball coach Kermit Thomas, remembers when his teams and Fontenot’s at Washington would meet in classic Class B contests held in the small gyms sprinkled across St. Landry during the early 1980s.

That rivalry between Washington and Palmetto, Melville, Morrow and later Leonville and Arnaudville, was something you always looked forward to, said Thomas, who served on the same NCHS staff as Fontenot from 2000-09.

Butch always did a great job with his teams, and he’s worked real hard. He likes to tell the story of when I was at Palmetto and he was at Washington, I had to pass through (Washington) to go home. You would pass by his gym and the lights were still on, because he was practicing his teams, Thomas said.

Fontenot also cultivated a devoted fan following who enjoyed his frequent sideline antics that included cajoling players and bickering with referees.

People used to go to games to see him cut up on the sidelines, and as he once told it, they went to games not to watch his teams, but to see him, Thomas said. He’s quiet now. He grew up to handle himself a little better and do a better job with his kids.

Fontenot said the years created a personal mellowing.

“I’ve calmed down a lot. It’s maturity, he said.

The personal fires that have stoked his career still seemed to blaze in Thursday’s WCA game.

Fontenot reigned over his portion of the sideline, bellowing at players, commenting on their decisions. He also admitted experiencing a case of severe pre-game nervousness, something he’s been unable to shake throughout the years.

I take the game seriously. We can be up by 50 and if we’re making mistakes, I’m concerned. I know you can’t be perfect, but I like to think so, he said.

Fontenot’s wife, Washington Elementary principal Ruby Fontenot, said she too has played a part in her husband’s success.

This season he has good kids that he doesn’t have to worry about, she said. I make sure of that every year, because my school is his feeder school. “Before they get to him, I weed them out.”

Fontenot Wins No. 800

2TheAdvocate.com (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)

OPELOUSAS — First a coaching milestone. Then talk of an extended run into the playoffs.

For North Central High basketball coach Butch Fontenot, it’s been more than a special season that includes a personal accomplishment few state coaches have claimed.

Fontenot won his 800th career game when NCHS defeated Westminster Christian Academy 93-62 Thursday night.

The win enabled Fontenot to enter a diminutive victory circle of boys’ state coaches.

Ahead of Fontenot with more than 1, 000 wins are only Joel Hawkins, who coached at Lake Providence and Southern Lab, and the late Leslie Gaudet at Pine Prairie.

In December, Louisiana coaching veteran Danny Fletcher won his 900th game in a tournament hosted by his Rosepine team.

As he exited the WCA gym, Fontenot said he expects larger things from his team, now 26-4 and ranked No. 2 in last week’s Class A state polls.

“I think this is a special team. This team is as close as any I’ve had. Not the most talented, but they just play well together. We’re going to win the championship in Class A, said Fontenot, a 70 year-old veteran with an overall record of 801-296 after another win Friday night over St. Edmund-Eunice.

For several minutes on Thursday night, however, Fontenot, who has coached at NCHS since the school opened in 1991 and at Class B Washington High, had the spotlight focused on himself.

He posed for pictures with his team, greeted old friends with extended handshakes, and enjoyed congratulations from St. Landry Parish school officials.

Then he discussed the significance of the achievement.

Right now, this (800 wins) means so much, because I don’t think there will be another coach that is going to come behind me, Fontenot said. It’s almost impossible, because of the way leagues are structured now and the number of games that you can play.”

Longtime Midland principal Clyde Briley, whose boys teams at the school won 421 games in 17 seasons, agrees.

“It takes a lot of years to get there (800). As things are now, it’s going to be a lot harder to do, Briley said. “Years ago, a (non-football school) was able to play maybe 45 or 50 games. Now it’s fewer than that, maybe 35, even if you go into the playoffs.”

Fontenot also acknowledges the length of his career has played a part, something he said wasn’t anticipated.

That brings into question whether he wants to catch Hawkins and Gaudet.

“To get to 1, 000 (wins), I would have to go three or four more years. Seriously, I’m going to go three. I really never wanted to coach this long, but it’s so easy when you’re winning, he said.

Former Palmetto boys basketball coach Kermit Thomas, remembers when his teams and Fontenot’s at Washington would meet in classic Class B contests held in the small gyms sprinkled across St. Landry during the early 1980s.

That rivalry between Washington and Palmetto, Melville, Morrow and later Leonville and Arnaudville, was something you always looked forward to, said Thomas, who served on the same NCHS staff as Fontenot from 2000-09.

Butch always did a great job with his teams, and he’s worked real hard. He likes to tell the story of when I was at Palmetto and he was at Washington, I had to pass through (Washington) to go home. You would pass by his gym and the lights were still on, because he was practicing his teams, Thomas said.

Fontenot also cultivated a devoted fan following who enjoyed his frequent sideline antics that included cajoling players and bickering with referees.

People used to go to games to see him cut up on the sidelines, and as he once told it, they went to games not to watch his teams, but to see him, Thomas said. He’s quiet now. He grew up to handle himself a little better and do a better job with his kids.

Fontenot said the years created a personal mellowing.

“I’ve calmed down a lot. It’s maturity, he said.

The personal fires that have stoked his career still seemed to blaze in Thursday’s WCA game.

Fontenot reigned over his portion of the sideline, bellowing at players, commenting on their decisions. He also admitted experiencing a case of severe pre-game nervousness, something he’s been unable to shake throughout the years.

I take the game seriously. We can be up by 50 and if we’re making mistakes, I’m concerned. I know you can’t be perfect, but I like to think so, he said.

Fontenot’s wife, Washington Elementary principal Ruby Fontenot, said she too has played a part in her husband’s success.

This season he has good kids that he doesn’t have to worry about, she said. I make sure of that every year, because my school is his feeder school. “Before they get to him, I weed them out.”






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