Barbe head coach Glenn Cecchini was named National High School Coach of the Year by the National High School Coaches Association.
Cecchini is the first coach from Louisiana to receive the honor, which the association has awarded since 2000. Barbe went 38-3 this year, winning its tenth state championship with an 8-2 win over Sam Houston in the championship game last week in Sulphur.
The team is currently ranked second nationally in the Maxpreps Computer Rankings and eighth in the Maxpreps Xcellent 25 rankings, which are determined by writers. Sam Houston is sixth in the computer rankings and 20th in the Xcellent 25 rankings. Sterlington, the Class 3A state champion, is ranked 21st in the computer rankings.
Barbe won two of three games against Sam Houston this season and beat Sterlington in a nondistrict game. The Bucs also beat Class 4A champion Tioga.
Cecchini said his team deserves a national honor.
"If I could give up this award so we were the number one team, I would," he said.
"Nobody works harder than these kids. People discounted them, said thus and that about Barbe, but we still haven't gone away. I'm so proud of them winning state for the tenth time in 21 years. It is not easy. They had to come back from adversity and they did a good job. We got pounded by Sam Houston, losing 10-3. For us to come back from that says something. We didn't have an easy route. In the first round we had to face a kid (Chalmette pitcher Antoine Harris) who might be a high draft pick. We played a tough schedule."
The Bucs won all seven of their playoff games, sweeping two-time defending champion Central-Baton Rouge in the regional round and Acadiana in the quarterfinal round. At the state tournament, the Bucs avenged two of their regular season losses by beating West Monroe and Sam Houston.
"We were 38-3 and won two out of three against Sam Houston, which was ranked first or second for most of the year," Cecchini said. "If Sam Houston had won two of three against us, I would say they should be number one in the nation. We beat West Monroe 8-1 in the semifinals, we beat two other champions in Sterlington and Tioga. Louisiana baseball is good. Sometimes we get overlooked because we are a small state, but when you look at our schedule, we played a lot of good teams. We are in one of the toughest districts not just in the state, but in the country."
Cecchini said he gets plenty of help in keeping the Bucs among the state's best.
"First I have to thank my wife (Raissa)," he said. "She has done more to help her husband's career than any woman I know. I share this award with all of our assistant coaches (Alexander Armand, Bob Corley, Jarred Barrett, Luke David, Andrew Martin) who do an amazing job, including my son Garin, whose first year as third base coach was better than my best year doing it."
Cecchini said his players deserve most of the credit.
"It is a player's game," he said. "Anytime you win a gold medal or coach of the year award, the players are making you look good. It is all about them. We put them in a position to win games and they were great. We had so many great plays, whether it was Kyle Debarge or Davis Meche on defense or Jack Walker pitching or Brody Drost, Brayden Corley or Damon Fountain hitting. They were all clutch over and over again."