NEW IBERIA — As Brent Indest absorbed the poignancy of the moment Friday night, he was stirred by glimpses of the past intersecting with the possibilities of a special future.
It was an historic occasion — the first time the Panthers had been this far in the playoffs in over 40 years — and Indest couldn’t help reeling it all in.
Indest’s Catholic High-New Iberia team had just defeated Newman 55-35 in a Division III select semifinal.
Now comes the week that was highlighted in his most recent twitter feed as “priceless.”
Indest has the opportunity to bring a state championship to Catholic High for the first time since 1962 when his Panthers meet Calvary Baptist in a state championship game Friday at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Catholic-New Iberia, which went 14-0 in 1962, beat Ferriday 13-0 in Class 1A championship.
“There are always so many hurdles when you talk about a state championship,” Indest said. “I was talking with and thanking our supporters afterward, and it occurred to me as I looked at a lot of them is what makes this so special. I’m home now (at Catholic High).
“Things like that fuel you. Many of the fathers of players are guys that I graduated with and played football with (at Catholic High). Now I’m coaching their kids.”
A personal career milestone is also there for the taking.
In his 17-year high school coaching career, Indest has never coached a team to a state championship.
After stops at Abbeville, Kaplan, Crowley, Carencro and two years at CHSNI, Indest’s teams are 141-68.
Many of those seasons were spent restructuring programs that were once on life support, like the 0-10 team he inherited at Crowley.
A state title also eluded Indest in 2011 when he coached Carencro into the Class 5A championship game against West Monroe.
State titles are obviously coveted treasure, Indest said, but obtaining one of them has never been an ultimate goal.
“That’s really not something that drives me,” Indest said. “Wherever I’ve coached, it’s never been a football factory or one with an exorbitant budget or an expensive staff.
“In my entire coaching career, I’ve coached seven Division I players. This week we are playing a team (Calvary Baptist) that has seven (Division I prospects) on the team.
“No, I’ve never been a go-to- the-Dome or it’s-a-bust-season type-of-guy. You just coach the best you can, and in the long run things might work out.”
Indest said his 2011 season at Carencro is memorable for the impact that it made on his players there.
“Those kids had never won a state playoff game in their careers and then they were going to play for a championship,” Indest said.
The Panthers were seeded No. 1 in the Division III playoffs and are 12-0. Second-seeded Calvary Baptist is 11-1.
Calvary Baptist defeated the Panthers (34-33) in last year’s Division III semifinals before moving on to capture the state championship.
Indest remembers the game well.
“We were inside the 10-yard line, and we didn’t score,” he said.
Indest said his experience taking Carencro to the Dome four seasons ago has taught him what traps to avoid this week as he prepares the Panthers for Calvary Baptist.
“I’m not answering the phone as much,” he said. “I’m limiting the calls, especially with the media this time.”
Then Indest said he’s delegating the bothersome, ancillary responsibilities to others.
“The week of the state finals when I was at Carencro, I was concerned with selling tickets and things like T-shirts,” Indest said.
“I’m doing none of that this time, and I’m keeping those things out of the athletic department office.”