In the mid-1990s, Parkview Baptist was part of a running joke at another local high school known for its football prowess.
“The joke in our locker room was that, if you couldn’t start for us, you could always transfer to Parkview and play for them,” said one local coach, who was then a high school player. “And now Parkview is one of the top programs in the state. You wouldn’t have thought that would happen back then.”
But it did. As skeptics around Louisiana question the methods some high school football powers use to maintain their success, Parkview finds itself under a microscope. The Eagles have won four state titles since 2001, including three since ’07.
Picking apart the Eagles is revealing. What it shows probably won’t quiet critics, but it may surprise some of them.
“I’d like to think what we do is based on consistency,” coach Kenny Guillot said. “The offense is pretty much the same every year, and so is the defense. And it’s kind of neat that we have first through 12th grade here on one campus. Kids grow up in our system. They grow up around us (coaches) and knowing what our teams have done.”
The win totals and accomplishments the Class 3A Eagles have rolled up rival those of any Louisiana program in the past six years. There was a six-year gap between the school’s first and second state titles. Then, by Guillot’s own admission, the Eagles took flight in 2007.
Parkview is 72-10 since. The Eagles claimed state titles in 2007, ’10 and ’12 and were the runners-up in ’09. They have won six straight district titles.
“You know, I really don’t have any explanation for it,” Guillot said of the six-year surge. “We work hard every year and, for whatever reason, things just took off.
“I know our guys believe in what we do and expect to win. People come in ready to play us, and those challenges push us to boost our game. I know some people probably think it’s easy, but it’s not. There’s a lot of work involved.”
Other coaches agree that consistency is a major factor for the Eagles. It starts with the 69-year-old Guillot, who took over as head coach in 1999. His son-in-law Jay Mayet (defense) and Scott Dieterich (offense) have been the coordinators for all but one season since.
That’s a stark contrast to the consistent turnover at East Baton Rouge Parish-based public schools, which welcomed four new coaches this fall and had another take over midway through last season.
“I say teenagers are hormones in tennis shoes,” Lutcher coach Tim Detillier said. “There’s not a whole lot of stability in their lives at times because they’re teenagers.
“When your program has the same system and the same coaches every year you give those kids structure. That’s what we try to do at our school, and we’re a public school. I think they do the same thing at (Parkview).”
One major component of PBS’s six-year run is the ability to dominate at the line of scrimmage. Again this year, the Eagles look solid with 270-pound Luke Gomez, a returning all-state player, back to lead the offensive line. Austin Taylor (310) is a leader for the defensive line.
While Parkview stresses the importance of repetitions within its option offense and 3-3 defense, critics whisper the other “R” word — recruiting. There are two kinds to note.
Linebacker Darry Beckwith, offensive lineman Lyle Hitt and punter Brad Wing are ex-Eagles who enjoyed success at LSU during the past decade. The Eagles typically have more than a handful of college signees who go to state colleges or Division II or III schools.
Then there’s the other kind of recruiting. Charges of recruiting are at the heart of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s decision to split its football championships into separate divisions for select schools like PBS and nonselect traditional public schools this fall.
Initially, John Curtis and Shreveport’s Evangel Christian were the names bantered about. In the months that have followed the split vote, Parkview, Monroe’s Ouachita Christian and basketball power Riverside Academy have been added to the list.
“In this day and time when a program is successful, everybody assumes there’s got to be some other reason for it,” Livonia coach David Brewerton said. “Whether it’s true or not, people believe the schools have to be recruiting or doing something wrong to succeed, and that’s unfortunate.”
The Dunham School’s Guy Mistretta was a rival of PBS’s during his time at Redemptorist, and he agreed with Brewerton.
“I have three former Parkview guys as assistant coaches now,” he said. “I know first-hand and from them how hard Parkview works, especially in the offseason. People may not believe it, but some of titles were won between January and August.”
Guillot offers some interesting numbers. Of the Eagles’ 14 projected senior starters, nine were “bed babies” who attended Parkview since the age of 3 or 4. Three other senior reserves also were PBS preschoolers. That’s 12 of Parkview’s 19-player senior class.
Only three seniors enrolled as high school students. One of those players is punter-receiver Tom Wing, the brother of Brad Wing, who moved to Baton Rouge with his family from Australia.
“I’ll go on the record saying I don’t have a problem with Parkview,” Detillier said. “You hear about schools who go to middle school games or recreation-league games. They don’t.
“The way I see it, they’re winning with their own kids.”