Louie Blanchard was big at everything he did

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Louis Blanchard was the biggest kid at South Terrebonne High School – in talent, but also in heart, generosity and his love for life.

The Gators community is mourning the tragic passing of one of their own – a senior student who was a multi-sport star and one of the most popular students at the small, family-oriented school.

Blanchard died this past weekend at a New Orleans hospital – less than a month after severely injuring his neck after falling off a trampoline.

No cause of death is yet certain.

Those who knew the young man remembered him this weekend as a champion in all walks of life – a young man with endless talent and also an endless love for others.

He was 18.

“Words cannot describe how wonderful Louie was to be around,” said Justin Lirette, who coached the young man on both the Gators football and basketball teams. “It was a pleasure to coach him all four years of high school. … He was one heck of a kid, and he will be greatly, greatly missed.”

On the athletic playing fields, Louis Blanchard was king.

He was an impact player since his ninth grade season on South Terrebonne’s football team – so good that longtime Gators coach Richard Curlin said he was one of the best in school history.

Blanchard won the District 7-4A Defensive MVP Award … twice.

Before his injury, Blanchard had given a verbal commitment to play college football at UL-Monroe.

He chose them after fielding interest from more than a dozen schools around the Southeast.

One opposing coach said he was so good that the game plan was to run in the opposite direction on literally every, single play.

“I told my offensive coordinator, ‘You’re going to get fired if we run in that direction,’” the coach quipped with a laugh. “He’s too big. He’s too strong. We can’t block him.”

Lirette said what made Blanchard so good was a combination of his God-given ability and also his mentality.

Blanchard was a big, strong kid. He stood 6-feet, 3-inches and weighed 273 pounds.

But athletically, he didn’t rely on that size.

He was a perfectionist.

When named The Times’ Player of the Week earlier this fall, Blanchard was asked on camera why he works so hard.

His answer was simple. He said he didn’t like to lose.

“No matter how dominant Louie would be in whatever sport he played, he would always be anxious to know what he could do to get better, and he worked at it each and every day,” Lirette said. “In my opinion, that work ethic is what set him apart from other athletes at his level and it’s what made coaching him a pleasure.”

But he was a big kid off the playing field, too – literally.

Folks who knew Blanchard remember his big heart and his ability to make others laugh at the most opportune times.

When news of his passing became public, social media was overtaken with those expressing their memories of Blanchard, who was named the Gators’ Homecoming King by his peers – just weeks before his injury.

The general message among friends was common: Louis Blanchard was a fun, fun guy to be around – the type of young man who could find common ground with anyone he met.

Before the season, Curlin echoed that, calling his senior a “leader of men.”

“Our players love Louie,” Curlin said. “He’s one of the most popular guys on our team. He’s a pleasure to be around. He’s one of those guys who has a way to get you to take a liking to him and who gets you to root for him.”

“He was a joy off the field, as well,” Lirette added. “He was a pleasure. He would light up any room he walked into. He was that type of guy.”

South Terrebonne High School held a candlelight vigil in honor of Blanchard over the weekend. The school was open for classes Monday, and has offered help and support to all students who may need guidance in the tough time.

Students from up and down Lafourche and Terrebonne Parish attended the vigil to offer their support.

Curlin addressed the crowd, and summed up Blanchard about as well as anyone could.

“He was truly one of a kind,” Curlin said.

Indeed, coach.

Indeed. •

Louis BlanchardCOURTESY

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