End of an era

DHS coach led squad to back-to-back state titles, 5 district crowns

July 02, 2010 at 1:04 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Destrehan’s Stephen Robicheaux leads his squad onto the field before the 2008 state championship game. During his 10 years at the helm of the Destrehan program, Robicheaux won 100 games, five district championships and two state championships.
Jonathan Menard
Destrehan’s Stephen Robicheaux leads his squad onto the field before the 2008 state championship game. During his 10 years at the helm of the Destrehan program, Robicheaux won 100 games, five district championships and two state championships.
For the last 20 years, Stephen Robicheaux has patrolled the Destrehan High School sidelines and given his all to the program. Now, the coach said it’s time to put his family first.

Robicheaux was recently hired as the school system’s new Coordinator of Safety, Security and Emergency Preparedness. In his new position, Robicheaux will review safety plans for all schools in the parish and serve as the schools’s point man when dealing with emergency responders such as the Sheriff’s Office.

While Robicheaux is excited about his new career, the decision to leave his football team behind was the toughest he’s ever had to make.

“I have been very fortunate to have been at Destrehan for 20 years. I have been around great people, coaches and players,” he said. “I just had to put my family first, which I really haven’t done in 20 years.”

Robicheaux, 48, has served as Destrehan’s head coach for the last 10 years, rolling up a 100-23 record that included back-to-back state championships in 2007 and 2008. During those state championship seasons, Robicheaux’s Wildcats didn’t lose a single game.

And while the state titles will be what Robicheaux is remembered for, his teams were consistently near the top of the state rankings, winning five district championships.
But when Robicheaux looks back on his time at Destrehan, it won’t be the championship banners that he recalls. It will be the players that gave him everything they had.

“They are the reason I got into the profession in the first place,” he said. “When I told the team that I was leaving, there were some mixed emotions, but I told them that Destrehan was a great program long before I got involved.

“All I tried to do was continue what was already started.”

While Destrehan will likely continue to be a successful football program, Robicheaux will be greatly missed. LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson, who was on Destrehan’s 2007 state championship team, said that his former coach was instrumental in his development.

“He taught me how to be a student of the game and mature as a football player,” he said. “We were prepared for college before we entered a university.”

Arkansas safety/linebacker Jerico Nelson, who starred along with Jefferson on the 2007 state championship squad, also has fond memories of Robicheaux, who took on the young player after he was forced to transfer from John Curtis to Destrehan after Hurricane Katrina.

“He welcomed me to Destrehan with open arms after Hurricane Katrina and he was a great coach,” Nelson said. “He will be missed and I wish the best of luck to him in the future.”

Perhaps one of the best players to ever come out of the River Parishes is Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed, who graduated from Destrehan in 1997. Reed, who won a national championship while in college at Miami, has been selected to six Pro Bowls during his NFL career and was named the 2004 AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Though Robicheaux was just an assistant on the Destrehan staff when Reed played for the Wildcats, Reed said the coach had a huge influence on him.

“Coach Robicheaux has been an inspiration for me and for all the players he has coached,” he said. “He has meant a lot to the program, and since he has been head coach it seems like a record number of Destrehan players are getting college scholarships. Right now, he just wants to take some time to spend with his family.”

Reed said that Robicheaux is also the reason he returns to Destrehan every summer to host his football camp.

“He called me and told me we could do whatever I wanted in regards to hosting a camp here and it has been a great experience,” Reed said. “Coach Robicheaux is the reason I come back every year.”

And it’s not just the players that have benefited from Robicheaux, but opposing coaches.

“Having to prepare for his Destrehan teams made me a better coach,” Hahnville head man Lou Valdin said. “It’s going to be strange not seeing him on the sidelines next year. We became really good friends because we have so much in common.

He is the only one on the planet who understands what I go through because we both coach in this area.”

Valdin said that if you had to pick one word to describe Robicheaux’s character, it would be integrity.

“He cares about his players, his school and his coaches and he always tries to do things the right way,” he said. “His teams did a great job of representing St. Charles Parish with class. When you went to watch Destrehan in the Dome, you knew you were not only watching the best team in the state, but you were watching a well-coached football team that played the game the right way.”

It won’t only be strange for Valdin not to see Robicheaux on the sidelines next fall, but it will be hard for Robicheaux not to be involved with the day-to-day activities of the football team.

“No doubt it’s going to be hard when football season starts and I’m not coaching because I have been with these players for a while and they work so hard,” he said. “But my heart will always be with this football program.

“I’m not moving across the state. I’m going to be around and hopefully have the chance to stay close to these kids.”

School spokeswoman Rochelle Cancienne-Touchard said that the Destrehan head football coach position notice went out on Monday and that the process for hiring a coach could take up to eight weeks.

Robicheaux said he will continue in his coaching role until a new coach is hired.

View other articles written Jonathan Menard

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