This Best of the NPJ for 2022 story was originally published on December 29, 2022.
When Andy Boone stepped down as the Avoyelles High School football coach after 15 years, the most success coming in the last two seasons, it was quite a surprise.
Now it appears he’s done something even more surprising. According to a KALB-TV report Wednesday, after 15 years at Avoyelles, Boone is taking over as head coach and presumably athletics director at Lakeview High School, following Brandon Helms, who retired for health reasons after the 2022 season.
Boone led the Mustangs to the 2021 Class 2A semifinals and a down-to-the-wire loss at Many, the second straight narrow defeat suffered to the eventual state runner-ups last season. The semifinal appearance was the first in school history.
This year, Avoyelles went 9-4 and reached the state quarterfinals, after again finishing second to Many in the district – which also includes Lakeview.
Overall, Boone was 81-70 at Avoyelles in 15 seasons as head coach. He turned heads with unconventional, aggressive strategy: Boone’s teams never punt, always attempt two-point conversions after touchdowns, and always kick onsides after they score.
“Fourth and 40 from our own 10 – we’re going for it,” Boone once told Louisiana Football Magazine. That rigid strategy quite possibly cost Avoyelles a 2021 state championship game appearance. Facing fourth-and-long inside its own 20-yard line with just over two minutes left, and with a slim lead over Many, Boone refused to punt. The Mustangs didn’t pick up the first down and Many quickly drove for the winning touchdown in the final minute of play.
Boone’s teams are also noted for their smash-mouth football style and powerful running game. This season, Avoyelles had three running backs with over 1,600 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns. The Mustangs totaled 6,093 rushing yards with 76 touchdowns from their running attack.
Lakeview’s Gators have had only fleeting success in the short history of the football program, but the installation of a new artificial turf playing field and renovations to the football facility over the past year, with Helms as a key figure, unquestionably provide the opportunity for improvement. The Gators haven’t won a district game since 2019, according to KALB-TV, but did pick up victories in four of their five non-district contests this fall before injuries and a lack of depth on the roster hampered Lakeview.
Lakeview made two playoff appearances in Helms’ five years as head coach, highlighted by a six-win season in 2019.
When announcing his resignation a few weeks ago, Boone said he wasn’t done coaching. That seems to be to the benefit of Lakeview High.
Photo Credit: Avoyelles Today/Avoyelles High School