Ascension coaching greats
The Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame had their induction ceremony last week—welcoming in five new members.
Two of the newest inductees not only made their mark on Louisiana athletics, but they made a lasting and impactful impression on Ascension Parish.
G.J. “Bucky” Mistretta and Kenny Almond brought out the best in their programs, creating winning environments with thirsts for winning championships.
It was great to see both coaches take their places in the Hall of Fame. It was certainly much deserved.
Mistretta was one of the best football coaches Ascension has ever seen.
Though he coached at both Lee High and Redemptorist, his greatest impact was felt at his alma mater, Ascension Catholic.
Mistretta built the program into a Class 1A juggernaut that routinely reached the state semifinals, made multiple trips to the Superdome and brought home multiple state titles. In what may have been his most impressive feat, he won a state championship in two separate stints with the Bulldogs.
His first go-around in Donaldsonville lasted 14 years and culminated in Ascension Catholic capturing the Class 1A state title in 1973. It was their first football state championship since 1941.
Mistretta then left to coach at Redemptorist from 1977-84.
When he returned to Ascension Catholic in 1985, the Bulldogs instantly built themselves back into a 1A powerhouse.
In 1987, they reached the state semifinals, and in 1991, they finished as state runners-up.
In 1992, Ascension Catholic outscored their opponents, 254-64, in the postseason—including a drubbing of West St. John in the title game to claim another state championship.
During their dominating run of the late 80s and early 90s, Mistretta coached running back Germaine Williams—who was the state Offensive MVP in 1989 and held the state record for most career rushing yards with 8,048 until former LSU running back Kenny Hilliard broke it in 2010, while at Patterson.
Ascension Catholic football hasn’t been the same since Mistretta retired in 2003. They’ve just never been able to recapture the magic.
From 2003-10, the Bulldogs only made three playoff appearances and never made it past the second round.
Though, under both Doug Moreau and Drey Trosclair, the program has been able to turn a corner and make consistent trips to the postseason.
And in a week that he represents Ascension Parish with his induction into the Hall of Fame, his son, Guy, has just become the new head football coach at Dutchtown.
He becomes only the second head football coach the Griffins have ever had. Like his father, Guy has won two state titles. He won one at Redemptorist, and recently, he won a second at Livonia.
Almond is most widely known for his exploits at Woodlawn, but his stop at East Ascension
jump-started the Spartan basketball program and brought them back into respectability.
He was already a member of the Louisiana High School Basketball Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame and a LABC Mr. Louisiana Basketball Award recipient.
Almond’s Woodlawn teams were special. In his time there, he won three state championships.
His 2003 squad went a perfect 39-0 and brought home the state title. They finished the year ranked No. 2 in the country.
Also in his tenure, his Panther team won a Class 5A record 56 consecutive games.
In his 10 years coaching at East Ascension, the Spartans won 255 games. They also made two state semifinal appearances, and in his final three years there, they won three straight district titles.
In 2014, Almond left the Spartans to briefly coach at Zachary.
Overall, he won 892 games in his coaching career.
The strong basketball tradition Almond was able to build up while he was the coach at East Ascension has continued since his departure.
The Spartans reached the state semifinals in 2016, and this past season, they won the District 5-5A championship and headed into the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in Class 5A.