Back in charge: Class 5A Live Oak presents Randell Legette with chance to be head coach again

by: William Weathers // Contributor

After a decade in the coaching profession, including five as head coach, Randell Legette wondered when such an opportunity would present itself again.

Not only the chance to impact the games from a won-lost standpoint, but the possibility of working with and molding young men again.

A year after leaving St. Thomas Aquinas in Hammond, Legette joined the staff of Hutch Gonzalez at Live Oak High in Livingston Parish last season where the Eagles went 3-7 and didn’t qualify for the Class 5A state playoffs.

Gonzales opted to return closer to home and took a job with the Bowling Greem School, leaving Live Oak with the void of looking for its third head coach in three years.

Live Oak tabbed Legette, last year’s offensive coordinator, to be head coach in January of a program in need of stability where the Eagles are in search of their first state playoff victory since a quarterfinal run in 2017.

“It was a goal of mine and now I can check that box,” Legette said of becoming a coach at the Class 5A level. “A lot of people sleep on 2A. It had a lot to do with getting me prepared to be able to handle this. I’m a big believer that God does things for a reason. STA will always be dear to my heart because they helped me along my journey, with my preparation and the process.”

The slogan for this year’s Live Oak team is ‘Do The Work’, a mantra plastered on the outside of the doors of the team’s fieldhouse.

It’s a mindset Legette was first exposed to during his playing career for iconic coach J.T. Curtis in River Ridge and has maintained throughout a career that’s now on its second stop.

“It’s gratifying to see a person who develops in the profession and more importantly become committed to it,” said Curtis, the nation’s career wins leader at 622 in 54 seasons. “A lot of guys have a whistle and a clipboard, but it’s not everybody that is committed to paying the price that’s necessary to be successful as a coach.

“It’s the things nobody sees, the things that aren’t written about in the newspaper or shows itself on a television screen that allows you to win a game,” Curtis said. “For a guy like Randell to go out and emulate what he saw as a high school player, and continue to improve on that, is really satisfying to us as a staff and a school.”

Legette, a native of Sumpter, South Carolina native, was 11 when his family moved to Kenner. He went to attend state powerhouse John Curtis where he played wide receiver and quarterback for

“Randell is really what high school athletics is all about,” Curtis said. “He was not a naturally gifted player. He had a level of skill that he developed that allowed him to be successful in high school, and to be able to learn and to achieve through the hard work of the offseason program. All the things we do in the summertime to help with your athleticism, Randell bought into it and was a maximum effort guy. He continued to learn and grow as a player and has had a successful career.”

Legette graduated from Southeastern Louisiana where he didn’t play football, and later obtained his master’s degree from Missouri. He didn’t enter the coaching profession until he was 25 when John White opened the door for him at St. Thomas Aquinas. 

He joined White’s staff and immediately enjoyed all of the layers that came with coaching, from working on practice plans and game plans, to developing relationships and impacting young people on the playing field and in the classroom.

“That first year I fell in love with being able to coach kids, being able to be there for them,” he said. “It’s not just coaching but it’s being a psychiatrist, a psychologist, coach … whatever they need. You’re there for them. I knew it was God’s will that it was my vocation. I’m here to enjoy the ride.”

Curtis believes the habits such as a stern work ethic Legette built while at John Curtis have served him well.

“When you see his career as he’s gone on to bigger and better things it’s a reflection of the kind of person he is,” he said. “Hopefully we helped develop that attitude about working diligently and working consistently, and to self-improve day by day.”

The opportunity to return to the head coaching ranks materialized sooner rather than later for Leggette, who after one season on Live Oak’s staff, was promoted to replace Gonzales two months after the end of the season.

“When you’re a head coach and leave that position you always think, ‘am I going to get that opportunity again?’ The opportunity presented itself and it’s my job to take advantage of it,” Legette said.

He credited the foundation Gonzales established, a team culture he was able to build on in the transition for a senior class that is playing for their third different head coach in three seasons.

The only thing Legette knew was to go to work, getting offseason workouts started at 5:45 a.m. daily which he said has had a direct correlation in the classroom.

“Everything a great football team wants to have is a great culture and these kids are on the right track,” Legette said. “Because the kids were familiar with me there was a small sense of consistency, no barriers or challenges going into this. I think the kids have really bought into our vision as far as the coaching staff’s concerned and the program’s concerned.”

Live Oak may not look like John Curtis’ vaunted split-back veer, but the Eagles will reflect Legette’s desire to be physical with the ability to run and throw the football.

Live Oak’s continued work toward developing an offensive efficiency during the spring where the Eagles’ spring game with Brusly was cut short because of weather.

That work continued in the offseason where Live Oak’s part of the Robert Graves Metro 7-on-7 Summer League where junior Caden Jones and sophomore Kingston Johnson have rotated with the team’s No. 1 offense.

Jones, also a member of the team’s secondary, completed 61 of 128 passes for 820 yards with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions. He also rushed 171 times for 878 yards and another seven scores.

Junior tight Hayden is the team’s leading returning receiver with 26 receptions for 388 yards and five touchdowns followed by senior wide receiver Ben Moyer (12-192, 4 TDs in 7 games).

Freshman wide receiver Calvin Ursin has also shown flashes of giving either quarterback a top threat on the outside.

“Running the football’s always important, that’s a good core foundation for any football team,” said Legette, who returns senior Garrett Zachary to anchor the team’s offensive line. “We have some athletes on the perimeter. We have two really good quarterbacks that can air the ball out. Can we do what we have to do and execute at the appropriate time?”

Live Oak has a trio of returners that provide experience and leadership on defense with senior defensive ends Jacob Cowart (60 tackles, 9 TFLs, 5 sacks) and Gabe Harvey (49 tackles, 9 TFLs, 5 sacks), and senior linebacker Wyatt Tynes (25 tackles, 2 TFLs in four games).

Legette also expects senior linebackers Brennan Wilson (30 tackles, 2 TFLs, 2 sacks in 7 games) and Brody Welch (24 tackles, interception, fumble recovery) to figure heavily into the team’s success.

Senior kicking specialist Brek Schultz scored 29 points on 17 extra points and four field goals with a long of 51 yards. He also averaged 38.41 yards per punt with a long of 59 yards.

Live Oak will finish play in the summer 7-on-7 league next week and continue offseason work that points to the team’s fall scrimmage at home against St. Michael The Archangel and Woodlawn. The Eagles will also be at home for their jamboree against Hammond.

“We’re very task oriented, not results driven,” Legette said. “We feel if we do the necessary steps throughout the day to get better whatever happens, happens. We’ll just let the chips fall where they may.”