Coach of Year: Ducote nurtures Rosepine to prominence from roots up

Published 7:56 am Saturday, December 25, 2021

A historic year for the Rosepine football program is ending with another first, as Brad Ducote is the first Eagles head coach to win the American Press/Southwest Louisiana Coach of the Year Award.

Ducote was voted the winner by fellow Southwest Louisiana head coaches. He led the Eagles to an 11-2 season that included an undefeated run through District 5-2A play and Rosepine’s first trip to the quarterfinals of the playoffs.

Ducote said he is overwhelmed to be honored.

Email newsletter signup

“Coming from your peers, it makes it more special,” he said.”To think that coaches think that much of me is flattering.”

Ducote is a Rosepine native who played at the school and has spent much of his career leading the junior high program before taking over as high school coach four years ago.

“I’m from here and went through bad times here, as far as football goes, as a player and a coach,” he said.

“It humbled me, so when we have success I don’t get overly excited. This place has grounded me. I’m just super proud of the kids we had this year, the coaching staff and what we were able to accomplish.”

Ducote said the successful season was not surprising. Many of the team’s stars were featured on the Rosepine baseball team that won the Class 2A state championship in the spring.

“I knew this was a special team,” he said. “We had high goals: to win every game we stepped on the field to play. We won district, which was a goal. We fell short in the playoffs, but one goal was to get further than Rosepine ever has and we were able to do that.

“We get great support from the community. When we beat Red River (in the regional round), you would have sworn that was the state championship. It was special. We have had that kind of support throughout my tenure.”

Ducote has known and coached the players since they were children.

“I’ve known these kids since they were 7 or 8 years old playing youth ball,” he said. “They’re grounded, talented but humble kids. They are leaders. The seniors we had this year, they were all business, like coaches on the field. There were no disciplinary problems. They pretty much ran the show. The younger kids looked up to them and followed them.”

Star quarterback Ethan Frey set the tone for the team on and off the field.

“Ethan had a baseball scholarship to LSU and we asked him to run the ball more than ever,” Ducote said. “He could have easily said ‘No,’ but competed all year.

“Braden Trull was a total warrior. Dalton Keel was a great leader with a great work ethic. Cole Donahue was the hardest worker we had and is a special kid and special talent. Logan Cheever on the defensive line led by example.”

Ducote’s son, Grant, was the offensive co-star, running for nearly 2,000 yards and scoring 35 touchdowns.

“When you get to watch your kids it is a special time; it creates special memories,” Ducote said.

Grant Ducote and Jake Smith lead a talented junior class that Ducote said he expects to keep building on this year’s success.”

“Losing this group of seniors is tough, they are great kids,” Ducote said. “That will leave a void, but this junior class is pretty special too. Smith throws the ball well and can do a great job. We still have quite a bit of talent. We are looking forward to getting back where we were and moving further.

“Bryant Merriweather, Isaiah Stinson, Michael Woods are back, all our offensive line is back and several on the defensive line got time this year.”

Ducote said he’s happy that he found success in his hometown.

“Rosepine is like a family,” he said. “I’m from here, I know the kids and most of the community. The staff is tight and family-like. That makes it all fun. Being around coaches and players you love, it takes the work out of it. It is fun and special.

“I wouldn’t trade my experiences here for anything. I coached junior high for so many years. Junior high kids are eager to learn; they are all ears. That’s what I always enjoyed about coaching youth. I was always worried if the older guys in high school wouldn’t have that attention span, if they would think they knew it all. I’ve never had that problem. I never thought it would be as positive as it has been. It’s been a blessing.”