Q&A with Loyola head coach Mike Greene

By LEE BRECHEEN, Louisiana Football Magazine

Where did you go to college and what sports did you play?

Greene: I graduated locally from Centenary College right here in Shreveport. I was a baseball four 4-year starter on scholarship. I started as a third baseman my freshman year, but my last three years started at shortstop. I remember playing against LSU back in the day. We came close to beating them one year but their big catcher (Craig) Faulkner hit a home run against us late in the game. I played against Albert Belle, and really have great memories of playing against LSU and the great coach Skip Bertman. I thought playing LSU back in the day was really good for the state of Louisiana. Even though I played baseball in college I always loved football too.

Where did you go to high school?

Greene: I went to Jesuit High School here in Shreveport, which is now called Loyola Prep. I graduated in 1983.

Where did you start coaching?

Greene: I got a call from my former high school assistant coach Tony Rinaudo about coming back to Loyola Prep to coach baseball. That’s where it all began and 35 years later I am back at Loyola Prep as the head football coach. Coach Rinaudo was a running back for Jesuit back in the day and played in the 1966 state championship game at Central High School.

Tell us about the leaders on Loyola’s team.

Greene: I would have to start with Cooper DeFatta. He recently had an incredible game in Week 6 with 150 yards rushing. Andrew DeFatta, Cooper’s cousin, is a big-time two-way starter for us and also a leader. Defensive end Nick Haynes has done an incredible job this year for us on defense. Linebacker Gray Deason is leading the team in tackles. Gray had to move from defensive line to linebacker because of injuries and he’s doing a great job. I would also like to mention more leaders for us in linebackers Robert Pavlick, a senior, and Rowan Guthikonda, a junior outside linebacker for us. Both these kids are having great years for the program.

What do you think about the game today?

Greene: It opens doors I think for kids. If you’re a tough kid, an average football player can come out for football and become a great player if they work hard. Average athletes who are tough-minded can have a lot of success in this game. You don’t have to be an All American for college to play this game and be a leader for a program and a good player.

Tell us about your staff at Loyola.

Greene: I have a really good offensive coordinator in John Sella. Sella spent time before at Captain Shreve. Coach is doing a great job piecing everything together week-to-week. Wide receiver coach Sherrod Lewis does a really good job and has to train receivers every week because of injuries we have had there; he’s also our head track coach. Offensive line coach is Zachary Minton, who teaches history at the school. Our head strength and conditioning coach is Michael Catalanella, a former college cheerleader at Louisiana Tech. This guy can personally squat 510 pounds in the weight room. Strongest grown man I know, and at 5-11, 280 pounds, he can do back flips. We also are grateful to have offensive line coach Scott Wojtkiewicz, a former teammate of mine and a QB for Jesuit back in the day, and coach Paul Bouvier, who coached in Florida and went to college at Central Florida.

What are the challenges in coaching high school football these days?

Greene: I think kids have so much going on in their lives nowadays. Back in the old days, football was everything to a kid growing up, but now I see a lot of kids not playing sports due to social media, with many clubs they belong to that involve games connected to social media. I also think if you took cell phones away from kids today, you might have a chance to win a state title every year.

Tell us about your football schedule this year.

Greene: I told my team going in we were going to have some hard games to play. Up to this point, I think it has all worked out for us for the better. I thought one team we played in particular, D’Arbonne Woods, wow, they’re tough and play the game hard every play. Natchitoches Central, Captain Shreve, Logansport and North DeSoto — they’re all good and made us better by playing them this year. It has prepared us really well moving forward.

How do you feel about the state title games being back at the Dome? 

Greene: I think it makes it so much better. Kids want to play in the Dome. It’s a big deal for them. I wish everybody would come back together. If it takes adding a Class 6A to make us all come back together, I would be for it.

Tell us about your family.

Greene: I have to start with my wife of 37 years. I met Aimee at Centenary. She sat at many cold baseball games supporting me while I was in college and all my games since as a coach for 37 years. I have been blessed to have her. While we are doing this interview, my daughter, Elle Mancini, is in town visiting us with my 14-month-old grandbaby, Caroline, and my son-in-law, Stephen Mancini. Elle used to be assistant to the famous Harry Connick, the singer and actor, while she was in New York. My son, John Michael, lives only a few miles from me with his wife Hallie. My youngest daughter, Chloe, just graduated from the University of Arkansas; she’s waiting to hear back from vet school. I am proud of all my kids and my wife.  

Contact Lee at lbrecheen@aol.com