Rayne native and long-time Church Point High School Head Football Coach John C. Arceneaux stands near the trophy case in the CPHS gym. Arceneaux, who now holds the most wins of a CPHS head football coach, has lead the Battling Bear team to two district championships. (Photo Courtesy/Claudette Olivier)
Arceneaux now holds most wins as Bears’ head football coach
Church Point High School Head Football Coach John Arceneaux knows it’s not about the game wins but it is about the life wins.
Arceneaux said, “With kids, we don’t get to see the wins until 10, 15 years down the road, to see if we really helped those young men and put them on a path to success with the lessons that they learned participating in athletics in high school, if it has set them up to be good husbands, fathers, employees. Hopefully they will be a supervisor or run their own company.
“Those are the things that are important to me (as a coach). It’s understanding that I will be judged one day, and it’s not going to be about how many football games did we win — it will be about did we make a difference in their (the player's) life.”
On Friday, October 26, with the CPHS Battling Bears win over the Mamou High School Green Demons, Arceneaux became the CPHS head football coach with the most wins, surpassing his wins predecessor Red Smith, who was coach from 1970 to 1984, by three wins. Arceneaux, who has been head coach since 2007, has 82 wins, while Smith has 79.
Arceneaux, a native of Rayne, follows in the footsteps of five other head football coaches who have lead the team since 1951. In addition to Arceneaux and Smith, the head coach position at CPHS has also been held by the following coaches: Willard Barnhill, 1951-1969; Mike Richard, 1985-1991; Mark Millet, 1992-1998; and Scott Speyer, 1996-2006.
CPHS Principal Lee Ward Bellard, who presented Arceneaux with his “Winningest Coach” award at the game against Mamou, said, “He (Arceneaux) works very hard. He expects his coaches to work hard, too, and do what is right for the kids. They not only worry about the athletic part, but they care about the kids, not just the wins and losses. He is helping the kids be better people.
"He also cares about the kids that don’t play and finds ways to get them involved in the athletic program, too. Coach Arceneaux does what is best for the kids, the school and the community.”
Arceneaux’s road to being the “winningest” coach started right after he finished high school.
“Coming out of high school, I knew I want to be a coach,” Arceneaux said. “As I was entering college, I had thoughts of going into physical therapy or something like that, but coaching always kind of appealed to me. I always wanted to be a baseball coach because I played baseball in college.”
Prior to coaching at CPHS, Arceneaux coached at his alma mater Rayne High School from 1993 to 2000. He joined the coaching staff at CPHS in 2001, and was named head coach in 2007.
“I love the challenge of using a game to help prepare young men for life, using the lessons learned on a daily basis to prepare them for the real world,” Arceneaux said. “I enjoy seeing them be successful in life.
“I love the Friday nights. I love the atmosphere that’s created here in Church Point. We don’t have fair weather fans — they come out and support the kids whether we’re winning or losing. This is just a great community that supports the school, supports the kids.”
Arceneaux said his favorite moment as a coach is not just one memory in particular, but more of a series of moments.
“Probably the most exciting moment as head coach was in 2013 when Kian Richard made the kick on that last play of the game at Donaldsonville to get us to the quarterfinals for the first time in school history,” he said. “(That moment) Followed up by the next week, the atmosphere that was created with the quarterfinal game here against Livonia that we lost 27-26. I just thought that was a great atmosphere. The stadium was electric. It was just a great, great atmosphere for a high school football game.”
Arceneaux also spoke of the significance of playing high school sports and the memories that can be made by participating on a team.
Arceneaux said, “I saw a post on Faceboook this weekend about how playing high school football is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and it just made total sense because once your are out of high school, you can always go play pick-up basketball with your friends. You can always go, if you’re a baseball guy, you can always go play beer league softball. There’s even some 30 and over baseball leagues. But you are never going to put on the uniform, helmet, shoulder pads and all that and go play football. You can go play flag football, but it’s nothing like playing tackle football. It’s truly a once in a lifetime experience for men.”
He continued, “Like I tell the kids all the time, you are creating lifelong memories. Twenty years from now when you’re going to have your reunion, you are going to talk about something that happened on a bus trip or on a Friday night or maybe something that happened at practice. You are creating lifelong memories. It’s things that you have a very limited window to create those experiences within your life.”
In addition to being the “Winningest Coach,” Arceneaux also holds the 2013 Louisiana Sports Writers Association Class 3A State Coach of the Year award and the 2017 District 5-3A Coach of the Year award.
The Battling Bears 2018 football season came to a heartbreaking end on Friday, November 16, when the team lost to Sterlington High School 57-56 in overtime in the second round of the state playoffs.
Arceneaux said, “At halftime, we were down by two scores. The kids had an opportunity to kind of just lay down and let their season end, but we challenged them at halftime to dig their heels in and fight. They fought, and they battled back and got the game into overtime. They gave themselves a chance to advance to the quarterfinals so that says a lot about that group of young men, that they do hear the message that we are putting out there.
“They came together, and we just really feel that it is a brotherhood out there — that if they all come together for a common cause, that they can accomplish great things, and they did that. They fought, and unfortunately they came up just one point short.”
Arceneaux will lose 11 of his football players to graduation next spring, but he is already looking forward to the 2019 football season, which he planned to start preparing for on November 26 with his offseason program.
“Every year is a new year,” he said. “You start back from ground zero, and you start building. We’ll start the season with the same goals we have every year — to give (the players) themselves a chance to compete for a district championship, make the playoffs and try to make a run, to string five wins together once you get in the playoffs.”
While his team is done for the 2018 season, Arceneaux will keep an eye on another Louisiana football team — the New Orleans Saints.
“The Saints, if they continue to play like they are playing, they are going to be in the Super Bowl, but in football, you are always one injury away from the season just going away,” he said, laughing. “If Drew Brees would get hurt, I think things would dramatically change.”