To say Kyle Lasseigne knows E.D. White Catholic football would be an understatement.
Lasseigne was the head varsity coach of the Cardinals for 10 years before stepping down in 2014 to spend more time with his family. Prior to assuming the top spot, he spent another eight years as an assistant coach. Before that, he was a student at E.D. White, graduating in 1988.
Now, Lasseigne is back once again as the head coach for the 2019 season.
The thing is, for all their history together, E.D. White doesn’t know Kyle Lasseigne. At least not this Kyle Lasseigne, anyway.
For anyone who saw the Cardinals during Lasseigne’s first run with the program, the 2019 season won’t resemble much from those years.
While he was away from the varsity squad — he remained with the school coaching the eighth grade team — Lasseigne took a deep introspection into what he did well as a coach and what he didn’t do so well.
“I learned that some of the things I had done the first go round I would never do again,” Lasseigne said. “Those are things I got rid of. I put a lot more trust into my coaching staff. I've got a bigger coaching staff. I also relied on outside people more than I did the first time around, with parents and the community, to help me out in doing this job. The first time I did this job I tried to do way too much on my own and it led to some burnout. That’s the difference this time.”
Lasseigne’s second objective is to not let himself be as stubborn.
During his period of reflection Lasseigne spoke to several former players about what he could’ve done better. Later on, those same players he would list as references on his reapplication for the position.
What he learned is that he won’t be his own offensive coordinator this time around. He wants to focus on more big picture ideas and let his assistants manage the individual groups. That way the players don’t get too many voices in their head and he doesn’t get spread too thin trying to coach a dozen different groups at once.
So one of Lasseigne’s first decisions when he retook the reins of the program was to hire a former E.D. White quarterback, Grant Chiasson, as offensive coordinator. Chris Bergeron, who took over the program in 2014 before he stepped down at the end of last season, will act as defensive coordinator.
Chiasson brings in a new-look offense where the Cardinals will run out of the pistol and feature more throwing — a far cry from the ground-and-pound style of his former teams.
“Instead of having my head in a notebook doing Xs and Os, I can do a lot more in terms of relationships, developing relationships with players and parent, and ultimately I think that leads to long-term success,” Lasseigne said. “You may have some short-term success doing it the other way, but long term in establishing a program with expectations, I think that’s the better route to go.”
Learning a new playbook can be an adjustment for some of the older players on the roster, but so far the Cardinals are embracing their new, old coach.
Lasseigne may be a blast from the past for the Cardinals, but his teams certainly won’t look that way.
“It’s a good new start — a clean slate,” junior running back Branton Vicknair said. “The basics of it are similar. A lot of the formations and all are similar. But it’s a new offense and I think we’re ready for something new."
The dramatic changes don’t come from a place of necessity.
E.D. White was a successful program under his tutelage with a 61-43 overall record and a trip to the Class 3A semifinals in 2009. In his final season, the Cardinals reached the second round of the playoffs.
But the Cardinals are in a new classification this year, having moved down to Class 3A from their previous position in 4A. That means old rivalries like South Terrebonne and Assumption are replaced with Lutcher and St. James, past district foes.
It also means the traditional season finale against Vandebilt Catholic will now be played in the regular season opener on Sept. 6.
An adjustment, to be sure, but the Cardinals are used to that by now.
“This year I think it’s best for us to move down,” senior lineman Brennan Borne said. “It’s tougher competition and it’ll show us what we’re capable of.
“It is (sad to lose rivalries). But it was time for a change. I’m glad this is what happened.”