During his time growing up in Monroe, where he attended Wossman High, Marvin Dantzler watched with great admiration the play of New Orleans Saints running back Dalton Hilliard.
Once Dantzler became a high school football and track coach and migrated to Oklahoma, he tracked the playing career of Kenny Hilliard from LSU to the Houston Texans.
Dantzler’s fascination wasn’t only with the vast achievements of the two Hilliards, but their small-town background at Patterson High that’s not only produced college-caliber talent, but won its share of football games as well.
When Patterson advertised for an opening to replace football coach Chad Blanchard, who left just before Christmas, Dantzler was intrigued by the possibilities of returning to his home state and coaching at such a talent-rich and successful program.
Dantzler, 36, officially became Patterson’s new coach Thursday, gaining the approval of the St. Mary Parish School Board after being the selection of Principal Rachael Sanders from 37 candidates.
After meeting with returning team members Friday and observing an offseason workout Dantzler begins his new job Monday.
“It was timing,” Dantzler said. “I felt like it was a great situation, and the opportunity may not come again. Patterson’s had great tradition. It was just too good of an opportunity to pass up.”
Dantzler officially resigned from his position at Booker T. Washington in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Feb. 3. He had spent five years coaching at Washington, the last four as head coach.
He guided the Hornets to a 33-12 record, a pair of Class 6A state playoff berths, which included berths in the 6A-II semifinals both seasons.
“I found in coach Dantzler a man who loves football, loves kids, and loves a small-community vibe,” Sanders said. “He will be right at home in Patterson, especially on Friday nights. After meeting him, our players were giving me high fives and fist bumps.”
Patterson found itself in the market for a coach once Blanchard, who spent 15 years at the school and two as head coach, took an offensive assistant’s position at Destrehan. He went 18-7 with the Lumberjacks, led them to the District 8-3A championship in 2015 and state quarterfinals the year before.
Sanders said she received 47 inquiries for the job, 37 résumés, conducted 16 phone interviews and 11 face-to-face interviews before tabbing Dantzler for the position.
Dantzler’s career has now come full circle, graduating from Wossman and Southeastern Louisiana in 2003 where he ran sprints and relays in track during a time when the school’s football program was dormant.
Dantzler’s first coaching job was at Springfield for three years and also for a season at Grant in Dry Prong before moving to Tulsa. He coached John Marshall High to back-to-back state track championships in 2010-11 before moving to Booker T. Washington, where he continued as the Hornets’ head track coach and assistant in football.
He said over the past four years, Booker T. Washington produced nine Division I signees and sent 60 players to play football at some level in college.
“I’m from the state, coached there and played my high school football there,” Dantzler said. “There was an opportunity and my interest grew and after meeting with the principal, I felt even better about it.”