RESERVE, La.-- The head football coach at East St. John High School resigned on Friday, just days after making controversial remarks during a speech. Coach Larry Dauterive spoke before the Quarterback Club in New Orleans earlier in the week. His comments about his players' family lives sparked both outrage and support for the coach, which culminated in his resignation.
A handful of supporters greeted Coach Dauterive, as he headed in for a meeting Friday morning with the superintendent of St. John schools.
"The man should keep his job because he's doing a good job," said Harry Bridges, a longtime supporter of the football team.
Friday's meeting capped a week in which Coach Dauterive made several statements during a speech, which included comments about how a number of the players on his team lack a proper meal after Friday games, that many were born to teenage mothers and most lack a father figure.
"Sixty-nine of those kids are from single parent families, so I'm the only poppa they got," Coach Dauterive said during the speech, which was recorded. "That's a staggering figure. So, I'm their only chance to get out of there."
It all came to head when Coach Dauterive handed in his resignation to the superintendent. He spoke exclusively to Eyewitness News after he left the meeting and said he resigned in order to maintain harmony in the parish.
When asked if he had any regrets about the speech that he made, Dauterive replied, "What I wish wouldn't have happened is that we would have been 7-0 and I wouldn't even gone to the Quarterback Club."
School board members arrived at the office a short time later.
"He's not a bad person and I don't want anybody to say that," said St. John School Board Member Keith Jones. "But this decision he made was, obviously, solely on him."
Yet, the board remains divided in its reaction to the coach's sudden resignation and the speech that led to it.
"[I was] very disappointed initially and then I became very angry after I saw the speech for the second time," said Patrick Sanders, the board's vice-president.
"I think his choice of words could have been better," said school board president Gerald Keller.
"I think they were stereotypes," said board member Albert Burl. "I didn't think it was necessary or called for in that situation."
"There was a rush to judgment on everyone's part and a rush to judgment rarely produces justice," said school board member Russ Wise.
In the meantime, Coach Dauterive said hardest thing to deal with is no longer seeing the players he's coached.
"I love those kids. They're like my children. The ones that are seniors have been with me for four years. It's like you're losing part of your family," he said.
As for whether the situation will be a distraction for players during their Friday night game against Destrehan, Coach Dauterive said he believes it probably would be.
"I think these kids have a bond with me and I'm hoping it wouldn't be, but I think it will be," he said. "I hope it's not."
St. John School Supt. Courtney Millet named Ronald Barrilleaux as the interim head football coach on Friday. Barrilleaux has been a teacher and coach at East St. John High since 2002 and served as the football team's offensive coordinator.
On Monday, Dauterive will be reassigned to a teaching position at another school in the district. He said, at some point, he may begin to look for another job as a head football coach.