NEW ORLEANS — When Cyril Crutchfield was unceremoniously let go as South Plaquemines’ head football coach in April 2010, it was hard for him to see any positives.
After all, in nearly a decade in Plaquemines Parish, he went 106-33, earning three state titles while taking Port Sulphur or South Plaquemines to the state title game five total times.
But Friday, Crutchfield finally recognized the positives in being let go, even controversially.
St. Augustine High School formally announced the hiring of Crutchfield as their head football coach.
“Sometimes things happen and sometimes things happen for a reason,” Crutchfield said. “A lot of times we question why things happen. We go through this point of saying, ‘Oh man, why did this happen?’ But what we have to understand is God is in control of every situation. Sometimes things has to happen for a door open.”
Crutchfield said that for those who remember how his teams played at South Plaquemines – full-throttle and tricky – they’ll recognize how his teams at St. Augustine will play.
That means onside kicks. That means reverses and halfback passes.
But most importantly, that means putting players in position to be at their best on and off the field.
And that’s what set Crutchfield apart in the interview process, St. Augustine athletic director Clifford Barthe said.
“When the committee interviewed him, we recognized that he had a very strong passion for the game, for his kids,” Barthe said. “In conversations with him and talking about his experiences down in South Plaq, that came through.”
Crutchfield was let go from South Plaquemines amid allegations of using profane language in front of students and teachers. He denied the accusations and, in interviewing with St. Augustine, explained his side of the incident.
That sufficed for Barthe.
“The fact that they had actually re-hired him but took away the football team from him kind of gave us the idea, the sense that something else was going on there,” Barthe said. “So we moved on.”
He was district coach of the year in 1999, 2000-02 and 2007=09.
Though Wally Scott won’t be competing against Crutchfield for district honors anymore – the two faced off when Crutchfield was at South Plaquemines and Scott at Ecole Classique – the Ben Franklin coach doesn’t doubt the Purple Knights will return to state championship glory.
“I’ll say this – they will win,” Scott said. “He’ll have them winning. He’ll have players there.”
He added, “You pretty much knows what he’s going to do and the kids play for him. He gets freakin’ athletes and they freakin’ play.”
Yet, at South Plaquemines he was at one of two programs in the parish. Now he’ll compete against the biggest schools in New Orleans for titles.
Crutchfield isn’t worried, drawing upon his experience Port Sulphur.
“We felt like we had a good run at South Plaquemine,” Crutchfield said. “We were able to do a lot of things with limited resources. Here at St. Aug, those resources will be more available so we actually think the sky is the limit.”
He leaves Landry, where he spent a season beginning to build the new school’s program from scratch.
And while that was a tough decision for him, he said he ultimately chose what was best for him and his family.
“I had some sit-down individual conversations and the one thing that they said was, ‘Coach, you’ve got to do what’s best for you and your family,’ ” Crutchfield said. “That’s something that I stressed to them. It was hard but things like that are going to happen in life.”