When first-year coach Lawrence Brown surveyed the tradition of Pointe Coupee Central football prior to his hiring, he learned quickly he would have to make his own.
With one game left in the regular season the Cougars are on the verge of a new chapter in the program’s history.
A win against North Central on Friday would give Pointe Coupee Central a shot at its first appearance in the Class 1A playoffs.
The Cougars (4-4, 4-2) have won four straight games in District 1-6A. A win would guarantee PCC its first winning season and its best record since 1991, when current Grambling coach Doug Williams guided the team to a 5-5 record in its inaugural season.
“Over the last 20 years, they’ve never had a winning season and they’ve never made it to the playoffs, but the times are changing and so is the character of our players,” Brown said.
Such opportunities seemed unlikely during PCC’s 13-game losing streak that included a dismal 0-9 finish in 2010. But Brown credits the recent success to his players who have subscribed to his coaching philosophy.
“We’re all about family here,” Brown said. “We’re building a family of trust, faith and accountability.”
To develop trust among players, Brown sought out the toughest competition possible in nonleague play against a pair of 3A playoff contenders.
A 60-22 setback in the season opener against Avoyelles provided extra motivation against Port Allen. The Cougars stood toe-to-toe with the Pelicans in a 12-12 stalemate until the second half, when Port Allen ran away with 22 unanswered points.
“When we made the schedule, we were looking for teams that would push us to our limits,” Brown said.
“It was something we had to go through to get ready for the type of football we have to play in our district.”
District losses to St. Edmund and defending champion Westminster Christian left the Cougars’ season at a crossroads.
Starting quarterback Antonio Johnson suffered a high-ankle sprain and was replaced by running back Kevin Bourgeois.
Notable changes took place on defense as well. Senior wide receiver D’Aaron Bennett saw more playing time at defensive end, and the coaching staff moved starting middle linebacker Drea Cobb down on the defensive line.
But the adjustments brought immediate results. After surrendering an average of 42 points in its first four losses, PCC limited Opelousas Catholic to 19 in a thrilling overtime win.
That sparked a four-game winning streak during which the PCC defense allowed 20 points or more only once.
“The kids got more focused, started making better decisions, started making more plays and turned the season around,” Brown said. “We also moved some players around, and the kids got healthier to contribute to the strides we’ve made.”