Football coaches entertaining as they crack jokes about their teams at Kiwanis luncheon _lowres

Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK -- Dane Charpentier, former Opelousas Catholic football coach

If he hadn’t enjoyed his stay and developed a winning program with a strong coaching staff, Dane Charpentier would have had a lot easier time saying good-bye to Opelousas Catholic.

However, that wasn’t the case.

The choice for Charpentier, after six years at the school — the last two as head football coach — to leave Class 2A Opelousas Catholic for an offensive coordinator’s position at Class 4A Cecilia at the end of the school year was met with great angst.

“It was such a tough decision,” Charpentier said. “The kids, the coaching staff and administration in my opinion are second to none. But something just told me this was the right thing to do as far as my career and for my family.”

Opelousas Catholic principal John Cavell said in a statement that assistant coach Tommy Tate, a former head coach at McNeese State and Crowley, will serve as the school’s interim head coach while a search for Charpentier’s successor is conducted.

“We are grateful to Dane Charpentier, for his dedicated service to the students, faculty, families and to all who are part of the Viking family,” Cavell said in the statement. “We ask God’s continued blessing on Dane and his family, and we wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Charpentier relished the opportunity to reunite with Dennis Skains, who was named Cecilia’s football coach Tuesday. Skains served on the staff of Charpentier’s father Sonny at Teurlings Catholic, while Dane was a player.

Skains, the head coach the past four years at South Lafourche, replaces Terry Martin, who left Cecilia to become the new football coach at Breaux Bridge.

“I realize that it’s unconventional,” Dane Charpentier said. “There’s probably some people scratching their heads. I think my priorities are right, and my family’s going to be taken care of.

“I just want to get better as a coach,” Charpentier said. “This presents me with an opportunity to step forward in my career and to develop professionally in getting the chance to work with coach Skains and the other coaches at Cecilia.”

Opelousas Catholic represented the first head coaching position for Charpentier, who initially served as the school’s boys head basketball coach.

Charpentier was also the offensive coordinator before being elevated to the Vikings head coaching job two years ago, directing the program to a 17-6 record and a pair of state playoff appearances.

Charpentier is currently serving as the head track coach for Opelousas Catholic’s boys and girls track teams.

“I think it’s a good match,” Charpentier noting Skains’ defensive expertise and his background on offense. “He’s got a lot to offer as a coach that’s maybe some of my weaknesses. Hopefully I’ve got some things to offer that maybe I can help him with.”