Walking the walk
Published 9:53 pm Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Nearly five years ago, the Troy Trojans played host to their first ranked opponent in Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium on September 9, 2004. The opponent that night was No. 19 Missouri.
Troy trailed 14-7 late in the second quarter when Troy running back DeWhitt Betterson ran for an eight-yard gain to the Troy 35-yard line.
Betterson was hit, however, and the ball popped free. Before it could hit the ground, Trojan offensive lineman Junior Louissaint snatched the ball out of the air at the 37-yard line and rumbled toward the end zone.
He dragged a Missouri defender into the end zone for the touchdown that would go on to tie the game.
Troy rode the momentum from that play to a 24-14 upset win over Missouri, quite possibly the biggest win in school history.
Now, nearly five years later, Louissaint will step onto the field at Movie Gallery Veterans Stadium for the first time since his playing career ended.
He will do so Friday night as a member of the Pike County High School coaching staff.
“I hope it’s not emotional,” Louissaint said. “I’m going to enjoy stepping back on that field. I know a lot of those guys that are going to be there watching, especially Coach Blakeney and some of the other coaches. There’s going to be a lot of hugs and tears shed, but I’m going to enjoy it and I’m going to talk some junk to some of the kids and let them know what I did on that field. It’s just going to be a great time.”
Louissaint played professional football for a brief time, initially going to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL for a couple of preseason games before being released in the final series of cuts. He then played in the American Indoor Football Association with the Lakeland Thunderbolts, winning a league championship there. His final stop in his pro career was with the Florence Phantoms of the AIFA, where he also won a championship.
Despite playing elsewhere, his heart never left Pike County.
“I was always here,” Louissaint said. “My wife and kids live here, so I was always part of here. I’m thankful that I was able to get in touch with Coach Eddie Stephenson and a couple of the other coaches here, and they’ve given me the opportunity to coach and be part of a school system.”
The opportunity to coach at the high school level is one that Louissaint is excited about. He feels he has plenty of wisdom to bestow upon the Pike County players. “I want to teach them discipline on and off the field, and the right techniques,” Louissaint said. “A lot of kids out here now don’t use the right techniques. They just do enough to get by in high school, and a lot of them wonder why they don’t make it to college. I’m just out here trying to help them, and teach them the ropes so I can help try and get them to the next level.”
Louissaint said being able to coach after experiencing a higher level of football is something that will help him in his coaching career.
“I just want to be able to help out the kids and give the kids that I wish I had when I was younger, and that’s somebody that played at a higher level than high school,” Louissaint said. “A lot of coaches didn’t play college, not to take anything away from coaches that never played college ball. But just from me playing college ball, I know what it takes to get to college and stay in college and the going to a pro league, I feel like I’ll be able to help some of these younger guys and teach them some of the things that I wish somebody would have taught me.”
Despite Louissaint’s success as a pro player and his new status as a high school football coach, the play against Missouri has made his name famous, even if his face isn’t.
“There’s a lot of people who don’t remember,” Louissaint said. “But, if I say my name, they always remember the last name. Just by looking at me, they don’t really remember. That big play itself really made me who I am in Alabama.”
While Louissaint’s play against Missouri truly is the stuff of legends here in Pike County, some of his players believe it to be nothing more than tall tales. “Actually, I never told the kids anything about that. Coach Timothy Brown told them the story, but a lot of them don’t believe it.”