By LEE BRECHEEN, Louisiana Football Magazine/YouTube TV
There are plenty of first-year head football coaches around the LHSAA, but not many have the experience and widespread respect of new Bossier coach Gary Smith.
Recently we talked about his staff, the school and his background playing and coaching. The Class 4A Bearkats, winless last year but a powerhouse reigning state champion in basketball, are 1-1 going into Friday’s crosstown test with Class 5A Parkway.
This job is a happy homecoming for him.
“I am an alum of Bossier High School, and so is my wife Diane. I was a center and defensive lineman, and I also was on the wrestling team and the track team,” he said.
“I am extremely proud to be back at my alma mater. There have been some great coaches before me and I am grateful I can follow in their footsteps.”
Like many high school seniors, he wasn’t ready to end his football career after graduating.
“I walked on the football team at Southern Arkansas. It was a great experience,” he said, “but after three semesters I came back home to graduate from LSU Shreveport.”
Smith has coached at four other local schools and a Dallas metroplex program. He started at Airline from 1995-2004 as defensive coordinator, then became the head coach at North DeSoto for two seasons. A big move to DFW followed with a substantial stay as defensive coordinator at McKinney Boyd High (2006-12).
Smith returned home and coached on the staff at Southwood from 2013-15, then joined Jason Brotherton’s crew at Haughton and hung with the Bucs until this spring, seeing his sons graduate from HHS.
When it comes to coaches who have influenced him the most, most are well-known locally.
“Chuck Dupree taught me about the importance of off-season and organization. Mike Greene (now at Loyola) is the best high school coach I’ve ever been around. Anthony McLain treated players like they were his sons,” said Smith, “and Jason Brotherton has a ton of respect from me and everyone for the job he has done at Haughton.”
I asked him what he likes most about coaching.
“I love the X’s and O’s and the challenge of lining up with a game plan each week. There really is nothing like Friday night football,” he said. “The most important thing about coaching that I like is the relationships you build with young men and the chance you have to help them be successful not only on the field, but going forward in life.”
It’s always tough for any coach to single out players, especially one like Smith who has been at it for almost 30 years. Give him credit, he didn’t dodge my question, which speaks highly of the players he cited.
“Linebacker Dez Smith at Southwood was very smart and tough. Defensive end Jamal Palmer, who I coached at McKinney Boyd, became an All-Big XII player at Baylor. We had one of the best defenses in the Dallas area because of him.
“Recently, linebacker Jake St. Andre at Haughton (now at UL Lafayette) had the best IQ of the game of any player I have coached. I also have to point out Harrison Voight at Haughton, who is the best outside linebacker I have ever coached,” said the new Bossier coach.
Smith is proud of his Bearkat staff.
“Receivers coach Jarvis Armington is a Bossier grad like me. Our DB coach, Eddie Pentecost, coached a long time at Parkway. “Our offensive line coach, Michael Manno, coached at Red River, Airline and Parkway,
“Our quarterbacks and running backs coach is Marrico Wilson, the former head coach at LaGrange in Lake Charles for seven years,” said Smith. “Our defensive coordinator is Marcus Hudson, who was an all-district linebacker and fullback at Benton who played at Belhaven. Our offensive coordinator is a young, well-known locally former star at Parkway, C.J. Morgan, who played DB for Mississippi State.
“I’m really excited about this staff. They are all great coaches who have the commitment and passion to give Bossier High School the kind of football program that these kids, their families and this community deserves,” he said.
There’s no doubt there is talent at Bossier – just consider how the Bearkats’ basketball program has been one of the state’s best this century. Now that some of those players are also coming out for football, and Smith’s staff is developing the young men coming into the program, the rebuilding process is underway and success could be not too far down the road.
Contact Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org