Ascension Catholic football seeking return to glory
These days, when the name "Mistretta" is brought up, most people think about Guy, the Livonia head coach that just won the Wildcats the 3A state championship.
But back in the late '80s and early '90s, there was a different Mistretta dominating high-school football.
Guy's father, Bucky was in his home town of Donaldsonville leading alma mater Ascension Catholic to countless playoff appearances.
Under Mistretta, the Bulldogs established themselves as one of the most proven powerhouses in Class 1A.
They routinely reached the state semifinals, they made multiple trips to the Superdome, and most importantly, they were champions.
Mistretta brought home Ascension Catholic's only two state titles back in 1973 and again in 1992.
"With a small school like that, you get some great classes from time to time. When you do, you have to make the most of it," Mistretta said. "We had it back in '73. They had a big senior class, and we had the same thing in '92. It really goes up and down, but those were really good years."
Mistretta had two separate tenures at Ascension Catholic, and both culminated in title runs.
During his first stint with the Bulldogs, he coached for 14 years and brought home the 1973 title.
He then left for Redemptorist, where he coached form 1977-84.
Mistretta came back to Ascension Catholic in 1985, and they instantly became championship contenders.
In 1987, the Bulldogs reached the state semifinals.
In 1991, they reached the title game, and the very next year, they crushed West St. John to claim the Class 1A championship.
That year, they outscored their opponents an amazing 254-64 in the postseason.
Mistretta said that the atmosphere in the community at the time was unrivaled.
"It was fantastic. Everybody loves a winner, and they all jumped on the bandwagon. It was really great for the community; it was terrific," Mistretta said. "People were really excited for us. They had signs all over town, and we were even getting support from surrounding communities. A lot of the other teams were rooting for us to win it all. It was a great experience."
Mistretta coached many great players--guys like Tony Landry and Germaine Williams.
Landry was named LSWA All-State Defensive MVP in 1992, and Williams was the Offensive MVP in 1989.
Williams 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.
Mistretta said that it makes him proud to look back at all the things he and his staff were able to accomplish back in those glory days.
"It's really heartwarming. A small community like that, they're really invested in the program," Mistretta said. "It was special for me because I was a small-town boy, and I was born and raised in Donaldsonville and graduated from Ascension Catholic. It was a great experience.
"A lot of the players on the '73 team were my classmates, and a lot of the players on the '92 team, they had parents that were on the '73 team. So, there was great continuity there."
It's still tough for him to decide on which team was the best he's ever coached.
"It's very hard for me to choose, but if I had to, I would say the '73 team was probably the best overall team. The '92 team was the most talented," Mistretta said.
Mistretta retired in 2003, and ever since, the program has had a tough time recapturing the magic they had during his tenure.
From 2003-10, the Bulldogs only made three playoff appearances and never made it past the second round.
In 2011, Hall of Fame coach Doug Moreau took over.
In his three years, he got the program back on track. They made three straight playoff appearances.
Now, 25-year-old Drey Trosclair steps in, and he's motivated to get the program back to what it once was under Mistretta.
"That's what it's all about. I have a lot of people counting on me to do that," Trosclair said. "I was brought here to do a job, and I'm going to work my tail off to do what they brought me here to do--which is win football games. This is just the beginning. Hopefully, we can win a whole lot of football games from here on out."
Trosclair's team took the first step last Friday night when they earned him his first ever head coaching victory.
"We just want to build on this. This is a great feeling," Trosclair said. "It's always a great feeling to come away with a win. We just want to build on this and continue on the path that we're on."
Mistretta said that the program can make a return to dominance, but it won't be easy. The passion of the community is a big component needed.
"Everybody wants to see the program do really well, but things are different now from where they were back when we were winning so many games," Mistretta said. "There's much more competition. It's a lot tougher to win a championship. But if the community gets behind them like they got behind us, I think they can be a winner again."
Trosclair couldn't be happier to follow in the footsteps of greats like Mistretta and Moreau, and he said that the Bulldogs' opening win over Catholic of Pointe Coupee showed how special things can be for the program.
"It's an incredible honor for me to follow in the footsteps of those guys. I have some lofty goals and expectations that I have to meet," Trosclair said. "It was a fun night for high-school football. My whole family was out here. Everybody was showing such great support. We have tons of people in the stands. It was just an exciting night for our program."
Under the young and energetic Trosclair, it's a new era for Ascension Catholic football. They're just hoping for the same kind of results seen in the decades of dominance under Mistretta.