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St. Louis Catholic High School head football coach Mike Johns retired after 48 seasons in the Lake Area. (Kirk Meche /Special to the American Press

St. Louis Catholic High School head football coach Mike Johns retired after 48 seasons in the Lake Area. (Kirk Meche /Special to the American Press

St. Louis picks Cryer to take over football program

Last Modified: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 5:23 PM

By Albert Burford / American Press

St. Louis Catholic announced Monday it has selected Charlie Cryer as its new head football coach.

Cryer comes to St. Louis from St. Mary’s in Natchitoches, where he has served as head coach since 2009.

He replaces Mike Johns, who retired at the end of last season after 13 years on the St. Louis sidelines.

“It was a good situation and hopefully we can continue the success they’ve had in the past,” Cryer said. “It’s an opportunity to live in a bigger city. St. Louis is a big program. Coach Johns has done a great job there. I know his health has hurt him a bit lately. It’s an opportunity to win and coach a program of that stature.”

Cryer had a 43-16 record at St. Mary’s where his team went to the playoffs each season. His most successful run while at St. Mary’s came this season when the Tigers reached the Division IV quarterfinals.

“It was a tough thing to leave there,” Cryer said. “I had 19 starters coming back, so it was a tough thing to do.”

Moving to a larger school in a bigger classification was also important to Cryer.

“We have 120 students in grades 9 through 12 at St. Mary’s.” he said. “I’ve worked at bigger schools, but for the past couple years, that’s what I’ve had. I think St. Louis has 106 on the roster. That’s a big difference.”

Cryer grew up on Shreveport, but has ties to Southwest Louisiana since spending time coaching at Oberlin and Merryville in the late 1990s. He also has two children living in Lake Charles, one of whom is McNeese women’s basketball assistant coach Kacie Cryer.

Cryer’s most successful season as a head coach came in 2003, when he led Vermilion Catholic to the Class 1A state championship and was named division’s Coach of the Year.

St. Louis Athletic Director Jason Oertling said the school received more than 15 applications for the job from across the state. The selection committee narrowed that number down before inviting candidates for interviews.

“We were very excited about all the candidates that applied and even more excited about the candidates we interviewed,” Oertling said. “We felt like it was hard to go wrong with the candidates we had. We were fortunate and coach Cryer ended up getting the recommendation of the committee. We’re excited for him and St. Louis because we think it’s going to be a perfect fit.

“We wanted to find somebody who would be able to continue the success coach Johns achieved and make sure we live up to the standards he set,” Oertling said. “We feel like coach Cryer is going to be able to do that. We’ve been very lucky for the last 13 years to have somebody like coach Johns and hopefully the foundation he set will continue and give us something to build upon.”

Both Cryer and Oertling said they hope to retain many of the assistant coaches already on staff at St. Louis.

Cryer called Division II the toughest classification in the state and said he understands the desire to compete with the best teams in Louisiana.

“I’ve watched bits and pieces of video on them and talked to some coaches,” Cryer said. “I think they have an opportunity to do well. I’m not going to do it by myself, though. It starts with a great staff and some great kids. That’s what we did at St. Mary’s. I’ve been in the Catholic system for about 10 years, so the kids aren’t going to be unfamiliar to me. I know the way they play and with good coaching and hard work, we’ve got a chance to be successful.”

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