The prep football coaching carousel is spinning this week in St. Mary Parish.
Central Catholic head coach David Fuhrer confirmed to the Tri-Parish Times on Sunday afternoon that he has been told by school administration that he will not be running the team’s program in 2014.
Central Catholic’s decision to replace Fuhrer comes just weeks after Patterson High School head coach Tommy Minton made the decision to retire from the school in hopes of getting a job in the private sector.
Both the Eagles and Lumberjacks are currently going through the process of finding new coaches.
Each team was in the playoffs in 2013.
Fuhrer was with the Eagles for nine seasons. Minton anchored the Lumberjacks for 16 years.
“I was told by our principal that I would not be the head coach next year – that’s correct,” Fuhrer said. “That’s not my choice. That’s his choice. They just told me that they were looking for a change. That’s pretty much all I know. … But I love the school and I love the kids, and I’m grateful for that time that I was able to lead the program.”
“It was tough to step away,” Minton said. “When me and my wife talked about this, it was a long, drawn out conversation. In this job, you talk to kids all of the time about making the right decisions and the right choices in life. And when we go through that process, we tell the kids to do what’s best for their families when making big decisions. Well for me, I’m following my own advice. That’s what I’m doing here. This is the decision that is best for my family in a lot of different ways.”
Fuhrer said he was not fired from his position as a teacher on staff, and he will likely remain at the school and be the Eagles’ track coach throughout the spring and in future seasons.
His dismissal marks the end of a successful nine-year run that included multiple state playoff appearances and many postseason victories.
The outgoing Eagles coach said he was surprised by the decision, adding he had already started offseason conditioning for several football players that are returning to the team next season.
The Eagles reached the LHSAA Class 1A Quarterfinals in 2010 and 2011 under Fuhrer’s watch. After losing several contributing players from those teams, Central Catholic’s program rebounded and made the playoffs in 2012 and 2013.
The Eagles were 5-7 in 2013 and 4-2 in district play. The team won a playoff game before losing to Vermilion Catholic in the Regional Round of the Division IV playoffs.
“I’ve been fortunate to coach some really, really good guys during my time here,” Fuhrer said. “And I’ve had a lot of former players that I coached come back and serve as assistant coaches for me, so that’s been a real blessing. We work hard here. We set the bar high in our expectations for our program and for our kids. Unfortunately, you fall short sometimes and in the last few seasons, we didn’t reach some of the goals that we set for ourselves, but this is a great school and a great community.”
Fuhrer said administration has told him that he’s welcome to be an assistant coach for the Eagles’ football team in 2014.
He said he will make that decision once a new coach is hired.
“I may do that – I’m not sure yet,” Fuhrer said. “I may also take a year off and sort of recharge a little bit. I can’t say that I won’t miss it. I know I’d miss it. But I think I may consider watching it from a different perspective and learning some things.”
While Fuhrer figures out his future after a forced exit, Minton left Patterson’s program on his own terms.
The Lumberjacks’ coach had a dominant 16-year run with the program, turning Patterson into one of the top programs in the entire state of Louisiana.
The Lumberjacks made multiple trips to the Class 3A State Finals under Minton’s watch, most recently in the 2010 season.
Under Minton, Patterson has evolved into a pipeline for several Division I college football programs across the country.
Standout prospects like LSU halfback Kenny Hilliard and Houston standout Trevon Stewart called the Lumberjacks’ program home before taking their talents to the collegiate level.
Minton’s final year with Patterson was another successful one. The Lumberjacks posted a 10-3 record and pushed to the LHSAA Class 3A State Quarterfinals.
With a lot of talent returning from that squad, Patterson was already being penciled in as a favorite in Class 3A for 2014.
“I think the No. 1 more important thing to note is that I went to work every day and I had a job for 16 years that I truly enjoyed,” Minton said. “I love the kids. I love the relationships that I’ve made over the years with the people I’ve met, the people I’ve coached with and the people I’ve coached. I loved being a part of this program, but for me, this decision provides me an opportunity to better myself and my family financially, so I decided it was the time to move on.”
Minton said he hasn’t decided whether or not he will coach in 2014, adding that if he does get a coaching job, he would like to position himself at a private school.
Without being asked, Minton connected a few dots, confirming that he had spoken with Central Catholic’s administration about its vacancy.
But he said that he doesn’t believe he will coach in St. Mary Parish in 2014.
“There are some private school jobs open in our area – that is a fact,” Minton said. “But I don’t think at this time, it will be a good fit.”
Minton said he has offers on the table to work outside of football in the private sector – offers that are more likely to be accepted as we push closer to spring football season getting under way.
But even if Minton chooses to sit out a season or two, he said that his decision to leave Patterson is likely not the end of his career as a coach.
He said that if he were a betting man, he would place a sizeable wager that he would be on the sidelines sometime in the future for another prep school.
“I’ve been doing this all of my life,” Minton said. “I’m never going to say anything like I’m closing the door. I love coaching, and I love football. I’ll never close any door to anything that involves me doing that.”