Over the last few days, as the condition of former St Aug football coach Otis Washington became grave, I did a little reflecting.
And, I can say one of the coolest things about this job is being a TV reporter when Otis Washington won his last of three LHSAA state football crowns in 1979.
It was a chilly night at Cajun Field in Lafayette, and there was plenty of hype around St Aug’s opponent that night, the New Iberia Yellow Jackets. New Iberia emptied as their fans drove a short distance north for what they believed to be a state 4A football championship in the making.
However, the final score was St Aug 16, New Iberia 7. It was a systematic defeat, something Washington’s teams handed out quite well.
Otis Washington’s teams were solid in every phase of the game, but other than the championships, Washington should be remembered as a coach ahead of his time in the passing game. An already talented Purple Knights squad had the added advantage of being able to strike quickly.
And, this was a time in the prep game when many coaches believed the old adage that three things can happen when you throw the football, and two of them are bad.
Washington went to be the first African American coach at LSU, and later the head coach at Southern University. But, he will always be remembered for his incredible work at St Augustine high school.
Washington said as much in a short clip from an interview we did at his home in Baton Rouge in 2010.
George C. Scott made plenty of movies, but he will always be General George Patton. Jeff “Skunk” Baxter has made quite a second career as a consultant for the Department of Defense, but he will always be remembered as the once lead quitar for Steely Dan. No matter what she does for the rest of her career, Emilia Clarke will always be the mother of dragons on the HBO series Game of Thrones. Eddie Robinson will always be the head coach of the Grambling State Tigers. That is what he was put on this earth to be.
And, so it was for Otis Washington. His legacy, 40 years after his last championship, has raised the bar to almost impossible levels for every football coach at St. Augustine high school. It isn’t fair, but hey, if you take that job, you understand that no matter what, you will always stand in in his shadow.
Otis Washington is, and always will be, the head football coach at St. Augustine high school. If anything, his passing, at the age of 80, has only made his significant resume grow in stature.