Over the past three seasons, I had the privilege of covering De La Salle football many times, and following each Spartans assignment I would cringe. I usually turned to my wife and game-day photographer (same person) and say, “We got another blowout.” To which she would respond, “De La Salle…again?”
The Spartans, under football guru Bob Ladouceur, are a well-oiled machine of pure dominance. To me, the lover of sports drama and junkie for the walk-off home run, buzzer beating three or game-winning touchdown catch, covering De La Salle was boring. They never lost and rarely were the DLS games ever close.
The school’s offensive line fired off the ball creating huge running lanes, the defense lived in the opponent’s backfield and the quarterbacking was almost always efficient. This same formula for success lasted 34 years.
Ladouceur’s head coaching record over that span was 399-25-3, ranking tops in California. He also ran a streak from 1992-2004, where his Spartans team won 151 consecutive games. The streak more than doubled the previous record of 72 consecutive victories set by the Hudson (Michigan) High School football program from 1968 to 1975 (according to the NFHS).
De La Salle has not lost a single game to a Northern California team since 1991. Seriously? I was playing tee-ball at 8 years old the last time NorCal team (Pittsburgh High) beat the Spartans.
After each DLS slaughtering I covered, the latest being an NCS 49-0 drubbing of Amador Valley, I would interview Ladouceur. And to my amazement, he was never satisfied with his team's performance. He always saw areas for improvement or if they were not obvious, he promised to go to the film room and find the flaws. He was the consummate perfectionist.
In fact, following that game, this was his first quote, “Not a lot of mistakes tonight. The defense played stout and the offense moved the ball.”
He set-up and ran the most successful high school juggernaut (possibly ever) that has far too much momentum to slow down, even with a looming coaching change. The style of football and work ethic is ingrained in the roots of the program and the winning seems a lock to continue.
I will still cover the games with the long lost hope of a close contest or maybe even a loss, but the program has gained my deep admiration and respect.