First article on Ladouceur was revealing

Posted on January 3, 2013 by

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This is a photo of the clipping that announced the last time a head coach was chosen at De La Salle.

This is a photo of the clipping that announced the last time a head coach was chosen at De La Salle.

Our founder, the late Nelson Tennis, loved to look over a copy of Contra Costa Times page from Feb. 11, 1979 that introduced 24-year-old Bob Ladouceur as the new head coach at De La Salle. His quotes at the time are surprising given what he accomplished over the next 34 seasons in a head coaching career that concluded Friday.

By Mark Tennis
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We don’t know the name of the writer, but a Sunday story in the Contra Costa Times dated February 11, 1979 that we’ve had in our files at Cal-Hi Sports for 13 years announces the arrival of a young head football coach at De La Salle High of Concord.

Since the head coaching career of that young coach at the time, Bob Ladoucuer, has come to a close this week after a Friday press conference at the school, we thought it would only be fitting to revisit his comments from that 1979 story.

With full credit to the Contra Costa Times (they should actually dig out this story themselves and reprint it), it begins by reporting that De La Salle athletic director Chuck Lafferty and principal Brother Michael Meister had announced the selection of Ladouceur, then 24, as the head football coach for the 1979 season. He was replacing former coach Ed Hall, who was the school’s first head coach during the 1972 to 1978 seasons. Hall later became known as a football coach at Diablo Valley College.

Ladouceur also was given a full-time job in the school’s religious studies department. This prompted a question whether there would be any kind of conflict between teaching religion and coaching.

“Absolutely not,” Ladouceur said in the first quote ever attributed to him as the school’s head coach. “My background is a constant reminder that football is not the most important thing in life. I hope to get that through to the kids to help make them better individuals. Don’t get me wrong, football is important, but it should be fun also.”

Ladoucuer’s previous positions before coming to De La Salle were as backfield coach at Monte Vista of Danville and being employed by the Contra Costa County Juvenile Hall.

Athletic director Lafferty was quoted that Ladouceur was promised “freedom to be innovative.” He added: “We’d like to see some new faces, too. Kids that haven’t come out for football for some reason before. With the advent of a new coach and new season, it’s more than possible.”

Running a veer offense eventually became a staple of Ladouceur’s offense, but at his first press conference it was unknown what he had in mind.

“I’m easy-going as far as new ideas go,” he said. “We’ll definitely run something exciting for the fans to watch. No boring up-the-middle stuff.”

That first story introducing Ladouceur concluded by him showing plenty of enthusiasm for his new job.

“One of my long-range goals has been to teach at a Catholic high school as well as become a head coach. It all happened sooner than I thought.”

Notes: The first time I saw De La Salle play under Ladouceur was in 1984 and the Spartans lost by one point to Skyline of Oakland (QB at the time was Brian Johnson of S.F. Giants’ fame) on a field goal that just missed in the closing seconds.

The team didn’t lose again until the 1987 CIF North Coast Section Class 4A final when a two-point conversion run late in the fourth quarter was ruled no good (the call clearly could have gone the other way) in a one-point loss to Monte Vista of Danville.

The next two losses came in 1989 early in the season (one was by two points to St. Francis of Mountain View) and then the next one after that was in the 1991 NCS final to Pittsburg.

What is perhaps most amazing about the 151-game win streak that followed is that Ladouceur’s teams were just a handful of plays from being on a nine-year winning streak before that.

Sometime after the 1992 season, I remember listening in to a conversation between Herb Meyer from El Camino of Oceanside, who was the state’s first coach to reach 300 career wins, and the late Gene Vollnogle of Carson, who at the time was the state’s winningest coach with 289 career triumphs.

“Have you seen De La Salle play, the way they fire off the ball?” Meyer said.

“Yes, I have,” Vollnogle replied.

Meyer’s response: “That coach is going to leave all of us in the dust.”

Nobody could have said it better. At the end of the 2012 season, Ladouceur had 399 career wins.

Corrections or comments? Email markjtennis@gmail.com.