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Dupont steps down as Vandebilt coach

Laury Dupont (left) recently retired as Vandebilt Catholic head football coach and has been replaced by defensive coordinator Brad Villavaso, who served as the school's head football coach from 1996-2006. Dupont will remain with the school as the athletic director. (Photo by File)

Five years after leaving Vandebilt Catholic’s football program for a job at Ole Miss, Brad Villavaso is once again the head coach of the Terriers.

Villavaso, who served the last three years as Vandebilt’s assistant coach and defensive coordinator, was promoted to the team’s head coaching position on Wednesday. 

He replaces Laury Dupont, who stepped down after three years as the Terriers coach last month. Dupont will remain with the school as the athletic director.

Dupont, 60, said his decision to retire as a coach was due to recent health issues. He had neck surgery a week before the Terriers’ 2011 regular-season opener against E.D. White. He missed the first two games of the year and was forced to coach from the press box for several more games before returning to the sidelines later in the season.

As a member of the state’s prestigious 200-win coaching club, Dupont retires with 228 victories and three state championships (all at West St. John) in 38 seasons. He had coaching stints at Thibodaux High, West St. John and Vandebilt.

In three seasons at Vandebilt, Dupont had a 20-14 overall record with two Class 4A first-round playoff wins in 2009 and 2010. The Terriers went 5-6 overall with a trip to the playoffs last season.  

“I had 38 great years on the sideline,” Dupont said. “I’m real disappointed that we didn’t win a district championship in the three years (at Vandebilt). I’m disappointed that I couldn’t give my best this year because of my health. It was a tough decision. It was a family decision, and I’m comfortable with it. I’ve accomplished a lot, and I’ve been blessed with a lot of good athletes and good coaches and great administration over the years. I decided that this was the time.”

Dupont said he looks forward to focusing all of his attention on the athletic director job and spending more time with his family.

“The administration and the people over here are great,” Dupont said. “I’m going to miss the athletes as far as the personal relationships in football, but I’ll still be in contact as close as I can with the parents and the athletes as being the AD. I think I could do a really good job with the administration and our athletic department. I have a really good assistant in Doug Hamilton, and we’re going to look forward to next year as just AD.”

Vandebilt president David Keife praised Dupont for bringing stability to the program.

“I think Coach Dupont put our program on the right track,” Keife said. “Not only are we very competitive, but we are also running the program in the right way. His veteran leadership has been good to not only the coaching staff we have, but he has some relationships with the booster club and the parents and the student-athletes. It’s certainly a loss not having him on the sideline. We understand that and we’re very happy that he’s going to stay on as our athletic director.”

Dupont turns the reigns of the program over to Villavaso, a former Nicholls State linebacker (1985-88). Villavaso was Vandebilt’s coach for 10 seasons (1996-2006) before leaving to take a football-related job at Ole Miss in 2007. He returned to Vandebilt as a defensive assistant coach in 2009.

“I’m excited about the opportunity,” Villavaso said. “I spent 10 years over here, and I really had a good time with those 10 years. We had some good seasons. I enjoy the school. I love what the school is about and its mission. I was thankful that Mr. Keife and (Vandebilt principal Jim) Reiss and Coach Dupont gave me the opportunity to come back here and coach at Vandebilt.”

Villavaso stepped in and served as interim coach for two games this season while Dupont recovered from his neck surgery in August.  

Keife said the school decided to promote Villavaso as coach instead of opening up a job search.

“(Villavaso) brings a great deal of knowledge and experience to the program,” Keife said. “I think he makes the transition easier for our athletes and for our parents. He’s well-known not only in the local community, but in the coaching circles around the area and the state. We’re really fortunate and pleased to have him. If he had not sought the position, then we probably would have opened it up with a search.”

Dupont said Villavaso’s coaching experience, which includes previous head coaching jobs at St. John of Plaquemine and Vandebilt and assistant coaching stops at Thibodaux High and Nicholls State, made him the right person for the job.  

“It was a no-brainer,” Dupont said. “We did have another coach on staff that was very qualified to, but Coach Villavaso was the most qualified. Coach V is a good coach. I’m looking forward to working with him as the athletic director.”

With over 20 years of coaching experience, Villavaso said he has gained great knowledge about the game after working under guys like Ed Orgeron and Houston Nutt at Ole Miss and Dupont at Vandebilt.

“I’m going to use a lot of things that I’ve learned from all of those guys to continue my head coaching career, and some things that I learned when I was a head coach before,” Villavaso said. “I think I was maybe a head coach too young, and I was 20-something years old when I took my first head coaching job at St. John-Plaquemine. It’s been 20 years since then. I’ve been around some good people, and I’ve been around some good programs. I’m going to take a little bit of everything they taught me, and I’m going to use it to try to be successful myself.”

Villavaso said he wants to continue the program’s recent success that started under Dupont. The Terriers, who had many key injuries to starters during the 2011 season, will seek to make their fourth straight playoff appearance next year.

“We’ve got a good nucleus of guys coming back for next year,” Villavaso said. “We were hampered with a lot of injuries and all on the coaching staff as well as on the field. I think that hurt us a little bit, but the kids stayed positive and they worked hard. We’ve done a lot of good things, and there was a lot of stuff that we can build on. Hopefully we can move forward and next year have a good football season.”