Legend Feature: Louisiana’s J.T. Curtis Reflects on His Career

By Walter Villa, FNF Coaches Contributer

John T. Curtis ranks second all-time in wins among high school football coaches with 570 over his 49-year career. His 26 state championships are tops among all coaches nationwide.

The stories about JT Curtis are legendary – just like the coach himself.

There was the time when a college coach wanted to find out about a potential recruit on the morning after one of Curtis’ 26 Louisiana state championships. The college coach wanted to give Curtis time in the morning after the presumed state championship celebration. But by the time the college coach called the house, Curtis’ wife informed him that JT had left at 6 a.m. to work a coaching clinic.

That says it all about Curtis, who hasn’t slowed down yet at age 70. He has won 26 state titles at John Curtis Christian, the school founded by his late father.

JT Curtis was a two-way lineman at the University of Arkansas before transferring to Louisiana College. But he knew since middle school that coaching would be his calling, and he inherited his father’s team in 1969 at the age of 22.

In his first day on the job, Curtis had 39 notebooks put together for the player turnout he expected. However, only six boys showed up for his first practice. Curtis reported the situation to his father, who let him know that fixing the issue would be his problem alone.

Curtis went 0-10 that first year but won his first state title in just his seventh season. Since then, he has put together 13 undefeated seasons.

“I’m a strong believer that amateur athletics are the backbone of our country,” Curtis said. “When guys come back and say ‘thanks’ – that’s the reward of coaching.”


Q&A with Coach Curtis

How has technology changed football?

“The speed at which information and video are available has improved significantly. It makes for a lot less work for coaches, who can rest more and spend time with family.”

How did you get opponent game film in the old days?

“Coaches would exchange 16-milimeter tape. You would run the tape back and forth. If the tape would break, you would learn how to splice it together.

“When we would play a team from elsewhere in the state, the two head coaches would drive to a halfway point, exchange tape, shake hands and see each other that Friday for game night.”

Are there are negatives to the Computer Age?

“You have to guard getting bogged down with too much information. You can get overwhelmed. You have to focus on what is pertinent and what will help you make the right call.”

What is the latest technology you are excited about?

“I fooled around with drones filming practice a bit last year, and I think it has merit, especially for wide receivers and defensive backs. It gives them a better picture of the splits, and we’re going to incorporate that more.”


The J.T. Curtis Profile

Team: John Curtis Christian in River Ridge, Louisiana

Years as Head Coach: 50 in 2018

State Championships: 26

Coaching record: 570-64-6

Profession: Headmaster, Athletic Director, Head Coach and Pastor.

Family: Wife Lydia, sons Johnny and Jeff and daughter Joanna

Accomplishments: Member of several Halls of Fame including Louisiana

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