Carl Porter’s career as a head football coach at Southern Lab lasted 12 years. But the impact he made on his players and community has resonated for decades, according to former players like Keith Jupiter and current SLHS coach Darrell Asberry.

Jupiter and Asberry were among those who paid tribute to Porter, 87, who died early Thursday.

“He was an icon … somebody people looked up to not only at Southern Lab, but in the Scotlandville community,” said Jupiter, who played for Porter from 1982-85. “Coach Porter was more than a coach and a teacher … he was a mentor. He always had a plan and taught us lessons about life as well as football.”

Porter coached 19 years at Scotlandville Junior High before succeeding another legendary coach, the late Larney Owens, at Southern Lab in 1976. Porter’s teams compiled a 129-25 in 12 seasons, including LHSAA Class 1A titles in 1980, 1982 and 1986. SLHS was the 1A runner-up under Porter in 1977 and 1984.

The Kittens were unbeaten during each of those championship seasons. Perhaps the most memorable was a 14-0 record in 1982. That year, Southern Lab beat University High 35-21 in an all-local Class 1A final that was part of the LHSAA’s second Prep Classic held in what is now known as the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

“Teaching us about life was so important to him,” said Asberry, who was an up-and-coming quarterback during Porter’s final two seasons, 1986-87. “When you’re a kid, sometimes you think you know the right thing to do when you really don’t. Coach Porter would set you straight and make you understand what the right path was and why.”

Porter, a Southern University graduate, was a native of Columbia, Missouri. He was inducted into the Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.

“I was a student in elementary school here when coach Porter was coaching,” said Southern Lab director Herman Brister Jr. “Everybody loved and respected him. This is a huge loss for the community and our school.”

Email Robin Fambrough at rfambrough@theadvocate.com