Stefan LeFors barks out a signal that includes the word “lucky” and a bunch of seemingly random numbers. Parkview Baptist quarterback Roman Mula takes the signal and goes with it.
Seconds later, Mula takes the snap, pivots and quickly fires a pass to a receiver on the left side. The play ends with the catch. And the process is repeated multiple times in the non-Steacontact drill until the Eagles pause for a mandatory water break.
“The guys are working hard. We are throwing a lot at them and seeing what sticks,” LeFors said. “Personnel-wise, we’re still trying to see who fits where. Until pads go on, I don’t know. We’ll see what we have soon enough.”
Six months ago, the odds that LeFors would be coaching high school football in Baton Rouge were unlikely. Or about the same as the odds that traditional power Parkview Baptist would run an offense other than the option.
Less than a month before the 2019 season, LeFors, the former Christian Life Academy and University of Louisville star quarterback, and his pass-oriented pro-style offense are in uncharted territory. He is the first-year head coach at Parkview, a school he once played against.
LeFors is also back in a city where the geographical/football landscape has changed since his senior season in 1999.
“It is a lot different in Baton Rouge now,” LeFors said. “But the adjustment would have been a lot tougher if I didn’t know my way around. I am comfortable being here. The traffic — there is so much more of it — is one of the biggest things to adjust to.”
The 38-year-old LeFors knows what he wants. He had an 86-20 record in eight seasons at Christian Academy located in Louisville, Kentucky, and won two Class 2A titles in the past three years. He has a son going into middle school. All those factors made a family move seem less than logical.
For LeFors and his wife, Joy, who also graduated from CLA, it makes perfect sense. And it started with a phone call. LeFors thought was a mis-dial in the days after Jay Mayet resigned as Parkview's coach.
“I got a call from a buddy, Travis Bernhard, that I went to school with,” LeFors recalled. “We hadn’t talk in forever and I thought it was either a butt dial or he just dialed the wrong number.
“He says, ‘Listen, I’ve got my young kids at Parkview and they have an opening. The coach stepped down. Would you be interested?’ I said, ‘Thanks, that’s cool, but let me talk to my wife.’ As soon as I asked her, she said, ‘Yeah, go for it and let’s see what happens.’ ”
Previously, there was talk about returning to Baton Rouge, but it never got serious until after the call from Bernhard. It got real in a hurry. The whirlwind process had the LeFors family, including their two children, in Louisiana before the spring ended.
If there was any doubt about the move, it disappeared quickly. The LeFors’ home in Spencer County, located just outside of Louisville, sold in seven days. A local home they liked came back on the market just as LeFors arrived in March. He quickly put in an offer that was accepted.
Just as LeFors arrived, word that The Church Academy — previously CLA — was closing became public. Parkview offered to accept students wishing to transfer. The Eagles have six former TCA players on their 2019 roster.
“Three of those guys are seniors, which to me is even tougher,” LeFors said. “You have one year left and everything is new — the school, the coach and the players. I’m able to tell those guys ‘I’m one of you,’ which is surreal. The team and the school have welcomed them.”
PBS Superintendent Don Mayes and Mula, the Eagles’ junior quarterback, said he believes LeFors is the perfect fit, along with a revamped staff. Mayes knew a proper balance was needed, noting Parkview's storied history that includes five LHSAA titles.
“I think the changes are exciting, but we also needed a way to honor and transition from the legendary coach (Kenny) Guillot, Jay Mayet and Scott Dieterich (longtime offensive coordinator),” Mayes said. “I think hiring Stefan does those things. We wanted a head coach and staff who are good at teaching the game and I think we have that,”
At times, learning LeFors’ offense has been similar to grasping a foreign language for Mula. Because LeFors serves as his own offensive coordinator, there has been some intense instruction time with the quarterbacks. But what quarterback doesn’t to play in a pass-oriented offense orchestrated by a coach who played in the NFL for the Carolina Panthers and in CFL?
“A big adjustment for me was getting used to throwing the ball so much,” Mula said. “The offense isn’t easy, but I think we’re all catching on. Everybody loves coach LeFors. We are all excited about the season."
In those rare free moments, LeFors recalls what Louisiana’s Friday night lights were like when he played with future LSU star Michael Clayton at Christian Life. He is eager to experience it as a coach.
LeFors is curious to gauge the differences between the teams he coached and played against in Kentucky and those in Louisiana. He already knows about the players. He says he can’t wait to physically see defensive lineman Jaquelin Roy of University High, an LSU commitment who is the state’s top recruit for 2020.
Then reality hits. A scrimmage with two-time defending Class 5A champion Zachary and a Week 1 match-up with Division I runner-up Catholic High are creeping ever closer.
“First it’s Zachary and then Catholic High,” LeFors said. “We have a lot to do. And yes, welcome home.”