For a while there, the Teurlings Catholic football program was a tough one to figure out.
Its history was filled with some great highs and tremendous lows.
The year before I began working at the Daily Advertiser, the Rebels enjoyed a season for the ages in winning their first 11 games without giving up a single point on defense, before falling 26-8 at powerhouse John Curtis in the state quarterfinals.
That next season was pretty good as well with another district title and a 9-3 overall record.
Two losing seasons followed, before an explosive 1986 offense that scored more than 60 points in two games with another over 50 to post a successful 8-3 season.
Instead of being a trend in the right direction, though, four lean years ensued. Teurlings only won four of its next 40 games.
Believe it or not, I do remember covering one of those four wins – a 27-6 shellacking of North Vermilion behind the big rushing night of Ed Stevens.
But just as it appeared that the Rebels might be headed for a long drought, it turned around again with a 6-5 winning season and return to the postseason. Then in Jake Delhomme’s senior season in 1992, the Rebels were back on top with a 10-4 record and making it all the way to the state semifinals.
Unfortunately for Rebels’ fans, the roller coaster ride still wasn’t over. Teurlings would go 4-16 over the next two seasons. Then, with one decision by an coach, the roller coaster ride ended with the hiring of Sonny Charpentier as head football coach.
Charpentier played high school quarterback, but was more known for being a college basketball player at Nicholls State and Top 28 basketball coach at Teurlings.
In his first season, the Rebels were 12-1 and then 10-2. Sure, there have been a few little speed bumps along the way – like 5-6 in 1998 and 6-5 in 2005 – but for the most part, Teurlings has been one of the most consistent winning programs in the area over the last two decades.
It’s amazing that Charpentier’s reign is about to hit his 20th season already.
Along the way, he brought stability and made football fun to play and watch at Teurlings. The Charpentier era will also be remembered for exiting Clark Field for the Rebels’ own campus stadium that must have seemed like a dream to many longtime fans.
But what I remember most about the Charpentier era is the great games I’ve witnessed. A few really stick out in my mind.
If I was going to list the top 10 games I’ve ever covered, several of them would likely be Teurlings games. One was a 21-14 regional round playoff win over Lutcher at Carencro High in 1999.
It was a perfect example of what old Dick Vitale meant by an all-airport team. Lutcher looked like a college team compared to Teurlings when the Bulldogs got off the bus, but somehow the Rebels prevailed that night on their way to a state semifinal appearance.
Then in 2002, there was a memorable state regional showdown in Abbeville between Charpentier and Brent Indest’s Wildcats, and the Rebels escaped with a 31-30 win thanks to a stop on the goal line to secure it.
(I also covered the quarterfinal game the next week against Patterson. I still haven’t figured out what happened at the end of that game and don’t believe what I saw, so I’ll spare everyone the details.)
Then there was that crazy 49-48 triple overtime win over Franklinton in the first round in 2006.
No, through it all, the Rebels haven’t reached Louisiana high school football’s promised land, but much like the case with STM, that’s done nothing to diminish Charpentier’s reputation in my mind.
When you look at how few college players have been recruited out of this program and how many great wins Charpentier and his staff have produced, little more needs to be said.
Going from the Class 1A semifinals in 1992 to the Class 3A semifinals in 1999 is an incredible feat. Now the Rebels are competing for district titles in the rugged District 5-4A.
And through the years, the Rebels continued to play elite teams like Notre Dame and Breaux Bridge when it would have been much easier to schedule down and collect even more wins. That earns respect.
These days, the Rebels begin the post-Zach LaFleur era and look to quarterback Cole Kelley and Sage LeBlanc for big plays, while being forced to replace such defensive leaders as three-year starter Michael Courville.
• Sports editor Kevin Foote has been covering high school football in the Acadiana area for the past 31 years. This is the sixth in a series of stories as we count down the days to the start of the 2014 high school football season that will review his memories of covering the area’s programs through the years.