Capitol High is set to become Capitol Charter School this fall.
Some things about the school’s latest changeover within Louisiana’s Recovery School District are yet to be determined. Who the Lions head football coach will be isn’t one of them.
Former Pointe Coupee Central coach Cleotha Johnigan Jr. has been hired as Capitol’s latest football coach. He was hired Wednesday and is already working toward the fall season.
“I’m looking at this as a positive opportunity,” he said. “Being able to bring two schools together, like Capitol and Istrouma, is something I look forward to.”
Students from Capitol and Istrouma will be combined this fall with the closure of Istrouma. The 41-year-old Johnigan has some experience when it comes to melding players from two teams together.
Johnigan led Class 1A PCC to an 8-3 record and the District 5-1A title. The Cougars lost 37-26 to Block in the regional round of the 1A playoffs. It was Johnigan’s only season as the school’s head coach.
When the Pointe Coupee Parish School System opted to consolidate PCC into Class 3A Livonia, Johnigan was a finalist for the Livonia High job. Though former Redemptorist and Dunham coach Guy Mistretta got that one, Johnigan spent the spring working at Livonia to help get players ready to compete together in 2014-15.
“It’s tough to leave those kids,” Johnigan said of his PCC players. “I’ve told those guys to keep their goals in mind, which is helping Livonia get back to the championship game. This opportunity at Capitol was one I felt like I couldn’t pass up.
“There will be some challenges. I’ve already met with about 18 players who played at Capitol last year. The task now is to get the kids from Istrouma involved and get prepared to compete on the 2A level.”
Johnigan succeeds Claude Coleman, who led the Lions to a 6-5 record and a berth in the Class 2A playoffs. Capitol lost to Homer 34-32 in the first round of the playoffs. Coleman resigned last month, citing the change in management at the school.
A 1990 graduate of Rosenwald, a forerunner to PCC, Johnigan was an assistant at Pointe Coupee Central from 2007-12. He was a nonfaculty coach before getting a degree from Southern in 2012. Johnigan said he hopes to have a staff of five assistants, including at least two faculty coaches at Capitol.
“I’ll be reaching out to the Istrouma guys to let them know about conditioning and workouts,” Johnigan said. “It’s pretty much the same situation we had at Pointe Coupee Central in that we’ll be dealing with numbers and making sure we have enough guys to compete on the 2A level.
“I think the teaching part will be the easiest because that’s what we do as coaches. My goal is to have a successful program and work hard for my players. Last year we had five senior starters at PCC, and all five had the opportunity to play on the college level in some fashion.”
Johnigan said Istrouma players interested in joining the Capitol Charter team can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (225) 397-1290.