When he thinks of Percy Duhe, McDonogh 35 football coach Wayne Reese remembers how assertive the former high school coach was.
“Coach Duhe was the type of guy who was real aggressive in football,” Reese said. “He didn’t care who you were or what level you were on; if you had something that he didn’t know about, he would try to get information from you to make him better. And he’d call anybody.”
Duhe, who had a decades-long career that touched several area public schools, died Oct. 30 at Passages Hospice from complications of diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, family members said. He was 81.
The funeral is set for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at St. Pius X Catholic Church, 6666 Spanish Fort Blvd. The burial is 10 a.m. Monday at Southeast Louisiana Veterans Cemetery in Slidell.
Starting at Nicholls High School in the mid-1970s, Duhe’s teams were known for their Power-I attack and aggressive 6-2 defenses. Duhe also was head coach at John McDonogh High and later in his career at Sarah Reed High.
“His teams were very well-coached, well-prepared, organized, disciplined,” said Robert Welch, who coached against Duhe’s teams while at Fortier High School. “I remember his McDonogh teams ran the option, around 1983, and they were very good.”
Reese had been part of a strong staff at McDonogh before becoming coach at Booker T. Washington. Duhe left Nicholls and followed Warren Skinner as head coach at McDonogh and kept the program strong, Reese said.
“That’s when players from McDonogh started getting big-time scholarships to programs like LSU, guys like (defensive end) Clint James,” Reese said.
Duhe’s 1986 McDonogh team pulled off his most memorable victory. The Trojans beat 11-0 Shaw 15-14 in the regional round of the state playoffs at Hoss Memtsas Stadium. That Shaw team was led by quarterback Mickey Joseph, a Parade All-America pick who played at Nebraska.
Welch and Reese also remembered Duhe for his contributions to coaching. Welch said he, Reese, Duhe, Don Wattingly and LeBaron Kennedy were the founding members of the New Orleans Football Coaches Association. Soon, there were more than 100 members.
“It was one of the best things that happened to New Orleans’ public schools,” Welch said. “It gave a lot of coaches the opportunity to speak publicly about different topics in football. We had football coaching clinics. It was a great opportunity to share ideas and for you to move on to next areas.”
Reese said not many city school coaches could attend clinics out of town given by college coaches, but Duhe had a remedy for that.
“He used to have a clinic here in New Orleans every year, and he’d invite the big-time college coaches, and they would come,” Reese said. “And it was a free clinic for the inner-city coaches. Back in the day, we didn’t get that chance to travel to the universities. He was real good with that.”
Duhe twice had to rebuild struggling programs. But as good of a football coach as he was, many considered him a better baseball coach. He was the head coach at Clark High and Nicholls, where he mainly coached black players and had teams that were very competitive.
Duhe also had a stint as defensive coordinator at Southern. He coached defensive back Aeneas Williams, who this summer was inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“He was a disciplinarian who made us accountable,” Williams said.