There was nothing imminent on Mark Millet’s coaching radar that made the veteran coach stand up and take notice. Until just recently.
Millet, who served the past six years as the defensive coordinator at Patterson, didn’t express any interest when the Lumberjacks found themselves in the market for a head coach when Chad Blanchard left after Christmas.
“I told (former Patterson head coach) Tommy (Minton) and Chad, if I ever do it (become a head coach) again, it would be at a small school in the middle of nowhere and be the only game in town,” Millet said.
True to his word, Millet found the exact situation right down Highway 90, becoming the head football coach at Centerville High, which played varsity football for the first time in 2015.
Anthony Hicks, who led the Bulldogs to a 3-7 inaugural season, left to become the head coach at Northside High School.
“It was almost the last day to apply, and I just decided to do it,” Millet said. “I knew they just started a program and it would be a little rough. It kind of intrigued me to work with kids who didn’t have that life-long football mind. I’ve coached at places where the kids have been born and bred with it. These guys have been just basketball and baseball.”
Millet, a native of Crowley, accepted the position last week, conducted his first player/parent meeting on Friday and officially began his new job on Monday.
“There’s the small-town feel,” Millet said. “This was just something I wanted to do. It’s probably the most innocent football still left to play. I just wanted to be able to teach it to people who didn’t understand what football is, hoping I could get them started in something before I retire.”
Millet said the number of parents that showed up for the meeting gave him an indication the excitement level football is gaining at the Class 1A school. He estimated that more than 50 players from grades 7-12 were also on hand.
Centerville, which fielded several junior varsity teams before last season, finished 3-8 overall. The Bulldogs began the year with three straight victories before enduring a difficult time in District 7-1A, which featuris three of the state’s top select schools in Vermilion Catholic, Central Catholic and Ascension Episcopal.
Centerville reached the postseason, falling 31-0 to LaSalle.
“It’s more of a mental toughness thing in dealing with the adversity of the game,” Millet said. “Everybody’s happy when you’re winning, but when it turns on a dime, you need to play through it. I think that’s something that happened a little last year. The district’s not going to get any easier.”
Millet brings 26 years of coaching experience to Centerville, including three previous head-coaching stops at Church Point, Crowley and Morgan City.
Millet said he hopes to conduct spring training in early May and introduce his plans for an offense that can control the ball with a defense and special teams that will be sound.
“I’ve had a couple of friends call and questioned why I left Patterson for this job,” Millet said. “It doesn’t matter whether they’re just starting football or it’s been there 100 years. We’re going to have some fun and we’re going to work hard.”