High School Football Coach Wins Milestone 500th Game
This blog promises to go beyond the box scores in youth sports, but this milestone was too major to pass up.
The fraternity of football coaches who've won 500 games at any level—high school, college, or pros—just doubled this past Thursday, as J.T. Curtis Jr., head coach at John Curtis (La.) Christian School, scored his 500th win, a 49-6 victory over Clark (New Orleans) High School.
Amidst an audience of roughly 200 of his former players, Curtis' team jumped out to a 42-0 halftime lead and never looked back, knowing what was at stake for their coach.
Curtis joins the 85-year-old John McKissick of Summerville (S.C.) High School as the only coaches to ever win 500 career football games, at any level of play. McKissick, who started coaching in 1952, has racked up 592 career victories (and counting), as he's still coaching the Summerville football squad.
The 64-year-old Curtis began coaching at John Curtis Christian School back in 1969, when he took over for his father. After posting a dismal 0-10 record his first year as head coach, he's gone 41 straight years without having another losing record.
In his 43-year coaching career, Curtis has guided his team to 23 state championships, 30 appearances in the state finals, and 11 undefeated seasons.
"I couldn't be more proud of the coaches and the players and the staff and all of the guys through the years," Curtis said after Thursday's game, according to The Times-Picayune. "I really mean what I said earlier this week about them all playing a part in 500 and getting us to where we are. It's exciting. It's something I don't know if I can comprehend right now. We never started out to do something like this. It's a monumental achievement. It's going to take some time to sink in.''
After the game, former New Orleans Saints quarterback Archie Manning, father of NFL quarterbacks Peyton and Eli, presented Curtis with a ceremonial game ball in honor of win No. 500.
Did we mention that Curtis also happens to be the headmaster of the school, and followed in his father's footsteps by becoming an ordained minister, too?
As headmaster, Curtis has set extremely high academic standards for his players. If a player has one grade below a C, he must attend a post-practice study hall, Curtis said to the Associated Press.
If they have more than one C, the player must attend study hall after practice and for 75 percent of their lunch period.
"They usually get the hint pretty quickly," he said.
Roughly 97 percent of the football players, and 98 percent of the school's total students, end up going to college, according to the AP.
The next time a coach argues that athletic success and academic success can't go hand in hand, here's hoping the coaching résumé of Curtis gets brought up as a refutation.
Congratulations on a major milestone, Coach. And congratulations on keeping academics at the forefront of your program's success, too.
Photo: John Curtis Jr., football coach at John Curtis Christian School, runs football practice at the school in River Ridge, La., on Oct. 26. (Gerald Herbert/AP)
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