Don Wattigny is as Edna Karr as you can get.

He worked at the school when it first opened its doors as a junior high in the early 1960's.

He was there on Huntlee Drive when Dave Lutenbacher, the school's first principal, chose purple and gold as the school colors.

Lutenbacher, you see, was a Warren Easton alum so he liked purple and gold.

Wattigny was also there when Karr chose the nickname Cougars, which edged out the name Kangaroos. (Yeah, they were almost the Kangaroos.)

And Wattigny was there when Lutenbacher came up with the motto "Second to None," the Karr motto that is still around over 50 years later.

Oh, and Wattigny was around in the '90s and early 2000s too, coaching and laying the groundwork for one of Louisiana's most successful football programs.

He led Karr to its first football state championship in 1993, a foreshadowing of things to come for the Algiers football juggernaut.

So don't blame Don Wattigny if his chest is stuck out a little bit more than usual Friday night at Behrman Stadium as he watches two of his former players go head-to-head when Brice Brown leads Karr against Jerry Phillips and Warren Easton in a Class 4A semifinal showdown.

"They are both quality people, hard workers who put their nose to the grind and were good people to coach," Wattigny said."When they played, they gave you everything they had."

They've done the same as coaches, which is why both are one win away from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. One of these two schools has been for each of the past seven years. (Karr has been to the Dome six of the past seven years and Easton went in 2014).

Brown, in his third season as head coach, is seeking to go 3-for-3 in reaching the title game, losing in his first season before winning it all a season ago.

Phillips, in his second season, is trying to get the Eagles there for the first time in three years and in the process, prevent his alma mater from getting back.

"(Karr) has been running the state and the city forever," Phillips said. "But I think we are ready mentally and physically this time."

Both coaches credit Wattigny for some of their success. They use some of the principles that he instilled in them.

"He was always straight to the point," said Brown, a former lineman.

Brown still remembers one of Wattigny's pre-game speeches as Karr was preparing for a game against rival O. Perry Walker.

"They have better athletes than us. You're supposed to lose the game. But you play at Karr and you have one job and that's to win the game."

Karr ended up losing in overtime, but the message was clear. You play for Karr, so you're supposed to win. 

Phillips, a former safety, recalled a play when he slipped down and the receiver caught a pass. Phillips pretended to be hurt. He remembers Wattigny quickly putting an end to that.

"Get your $%^ ass up, you ain't hurt. Make a play the next play."

"He didn't cut any corners and didn't pull any punches," Phillips said. "He made you respect the program, and you knew everything was bigger than you. The program was bigger Jerry Phillips. You had to respect the Karr program, the Karr name. And I still carry that to today. it's worked in my life and I'm trying to bring that mentality to Warren Easton because it works."

Friday's game will be the second meeting in the past month between the two schools.

Karr rolled to a convincing 40-6 victory in the regular season finale and won the District 9-4A title.

"We really want to get our lick back," Phillips said. "We got beat up pretty bad, but we knew we would see them again, if not this week then in the state championship. I think we are a lot more prepared. The last game got out of hand early. We were caught up in the moment, and Karr was ready to play."

Brown expects it to be closer the second time around too.

"They know us so well," Brown said."Jerry knows what I'm trying to do and he knows it's going to be a tough game just like I know it's going to be a tough game. But it's supposed to be tough in the semifinals."

Wattigny, who did the pregame coin toss in the first meeting, will help broadcast the game this time.

It's almost a win-win for Wattigny.

"I wish they were playing each other next week (in the championship game)," Wattigny said. "I love both of them because they do things the right way. I always pull for both of them. But I told Jerry this week he knows where my heart is."

Follow Rod Walker on Twitter, @rwalkeradvocate.