On the heels of one of the school’s most successful periods, new Vermilion Catholic football coach Ossie Blaize wanted to make one thing clear to the returning members of the team.
“I knew they were obviously disappointed, but I tried to convey that VC football is not about one person,” said Blaize, hired to replace Russell Kuhns who resigned June 16 after leading the Eagles to 45 wins over four years. “It’s everybody in the (meeting) room — the school, the parents, community and administration. That’s what makes it a special place.”
Blaize knows all about those special traits, having coached Vermilion Catholic from 1991-2000 when he led the team to three state quarterfinal appearances and one semifinal.
Vermilion Catholic Principal Mike Guilbeaux said he named Blaize as interim coach because of his familiarity with the program.
“We had some really good applicants, but felt coach Blaize knew the program and kids and was familiar with the style of play,” Guilbeaux said. “This gives us the opportunity to start looking next spring at an early stage. It was a good fit for upcoming year.”
The 68-year-old Blaize, who returned to VC last year where he coached the offensive line and helped with the defense, said the 2016 season represents his 46th in coaching.
“I’ve had a few people ask if I thought I was too old,” Blaize said. “I don’t play, I coach. I’m not going to get real winded. The day it stops being fun is the day I start sleeping on the day before a game and then it’s time to give it up. I hadn’t had that happen yet. I enjoy working with the kids and seeing them develop.”
Blaize quipped that a look at his roster is the only evidence of his advanced age.
“I’m coaching kids of kids I coached here in the early 90s,” said Blaize, who is looking to round out his staff with two assistants. “You know you’re getting a little long in the tooth when you have stuff like that happening. When you do something for so long, it’s kind of who you are. I can organize and make decisions.”
The late nature of Kuhns’ resignation, which came after a fourth consecutive double-digit win season and state semifinal appearance, made Blaize an ideal candidate because of his wealth of coaching knowledge and track record at the school.
Blaize also led VC to a pair of state track championships during his first tenure and guided the Eagles boys this season to the District 7-1A championship, regional runner-up and fifth place at the state meet.
Despite significant losses at the skill positions, Blaize is adamant about continuing VC’s no-huddle spread offense that’s been a program staple that predated Kuhns’ arrival.
The Eagles return five starters on both offense and defense with the interior lines being the team’s early strengths.
“We’re going to try to keep what’s been going on,” Blaize said. “We’ve got a lot of new people at skill positions and have to get better, and our nondistrict schedule’s not easy. We’re young, but we’ll get better.”