John T. Curtis II became only the second high school football coach in history to win 500 games Thursday night when he guided
Curtis (River Ridge, La.)
a lopsided 49-0 victory over Hall (New Orleans) before a crowd
estimated at 3,500. He now has a 500-54-6 record in 42 years.
The unbeaten Patriots raised their record to 8-0, while dropping Hall to 0-9.
Curtis went up 21-0 in the first quarter and scored 16 points in a
19-second span in the second quarter to put the game out of reach. A
running clock was used throughout the second half.
Curtis was rather overwhelmed by the victory and surrounding hoopla.
He told MaxPreps, "I'm not sure that it's completely sunk in - the
magnitude and honor. The kids that came back (more than 200 of his former
players, including a pair from his first team in 1969). It was just a
tremendous honor to share with them, really special. Some of the guys I
hadn't had an opportunity to see in a lot of years. They had a little
less hair and a little more weight around the middle, but the bond is
The veteran coach also enjoyed being able to use his entire roster, because he pulled his starters in the first quarter.
"We jumped up early and let the young kids play," he noted. "All 92 played. They can say they played in the 500th win."
As the game ended, he got the expected Gatorade bath from his delighted players.
The postgame ceremonies included two special presentations. Former
NFL star Archie Manning presented Curtis with the game ball, which will
end up in the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame. B.J. Gazzardo, Assistant Executive Director of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association,
presented him with a framed shirt designed for the occasion.
Players and others associated with the team were given special
T-shirts, while 700 different T-shirts were sold to the general public.
Even before the game got underway, Curtis fans were celebrating. Some
arrived as early at 1 p.m. for a 7 p.m. contest to tailgate. A popular
local band, Bag of Donuts, provided music.
The night was topped off with a get-together in the school gym.
'"It won't go on all night," Curtis promised. "We've got school tomorrow."
National record holder John McKissick of (Summerville, S.C.) said,
"He's going to catch me because I'm getting so old (85) that I don't
know if I can keep doing it. We're at 592 right now. Tell him I wish him
good luck and hang in there. They say all records can be broken, so I'm
not worried about that."
Curtis, whose family owns the school, will be 65 on Dec. 6 and shows no signs of slowing down.
CBS/MaxPreps recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said, "He's one of the
icons of high school football. He doesn't play in a rich area (for
talent), but he develops athletes as well as anybody in the country. And
he's as consistent as anybody in the country."