Lafayette Christian Academy takes goes on the road to Ville Platte on Friday night as a former son returns home to Bulldog Stadium.
Knights coach Derek Landry is coaching against his former school, where he played quarterback in the 1990s. As Landry puts it, he along with former teammate and current Bulldogs head coach Jorie Randle “have been working hard over the past couple years to try to make this game happen, to be able to go back to Ville Platte High and be able to get some kind of little rivalry going since the Tee-Cotton Bowl doesn’t exist anymore.”
“It was a great atmosphere,” Landry said of his time there. “We had one of the best bands in the area. We always kind of joked the stands were full until after halftime because everybody came to see the band.”
The football team was “pretty decent” in Landry’s estimation. Ville Platte was in the race for a district title every year and made it to the state playoffs a few times during his time there. But the records and playoff appearances aren’t what he still remembers.
“It was a great experience and a great group of guys,” Landry said. “In fact the majority of the coaching staff there now I think I played with at one time or another, and a lot of the kids over there now are related to the majority of my teammates.”
Landry had aspirations of doing other things in life after playing football, even wanting to join the Air Force, but his football experience left him looking for more.
“I knew that’s what I wanted to do the rest of my life and be involved in football some kind of way,” Landry said. “So it was a huge influence on my life and my career.”
His career so far has spanned two programs built from the ground up while he was there. He was the defensive coordinator at Ascension Episcopal when it opened up and started playing football.
“I worked under a great guy named Randy Johnson, so I got to see kind of firsthand the dos and don’ts of building a program and kind of modeling what he did,” Landry said.
The coach has since taken those lessons to Lafayette Christian.
“We won six games and got in the playoffs my first year here — in fact the school’s first year of varsity football — and we ended up drawing Sacred Heart (Ville Platte) in the first round of all places, which was like a really cool experience,” Landry said. “The field is named after my grandfather, so being able to coach on my grandfather’s field was like a really cool experience for me.”
In that game, Landry said all of his former friends and teammates from Ville Platte High came out to support him — something that may occur this week with a little different flavor.
“They’ve been telling me they’re going to be out there this week and do a little trash talk and a little friendly banter going back and forth,” Landry said.
All the friendly banter aside, Landry is just hoping everyone sees a good football game Friday.
“I think we’re getting it together,” Landry said. “We’re rearranging some pieces. We’re trying to get some guys in the right place, and if we can get back to form, where we were at the end of last year, I think they’re going to see an exciting game. They’re going to see a fast-paced game for sure.”