Guilbeaux introduced as DHS athletic director, head football coach

Newly named athletic director and head football coach, Benny Gilmore, talks a group of athletes in the DHS weight room Monday.

Donaldsonville High School principal, Dr. Esrom Pitre, introduced Benny Guilbeaux as the school’s new athletic director and head football coach Monday. After what felt like a long search, the Tigers athletics and football program can now move in a positive direction with a well-qualified Guilbeaux as the leader. His official start day is Friday, March 1.

“We had some good qualified candidates, some really qualified candidates but the school committee and myself felt this was a perfect opportunity to get someone who had the status,” Pitre said.  “He’s a Notre Dame graduate and has played at a high level. He had the academic standards as well. He knows what it takes both in the classroom and on the field.”

Guilbeaux is an Opelousas native and graduated from Opelousas Senior High School before going to play college football for the Irish of Notre Dame, where he started at the defensive strong safety position. He graduated with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in 1999 and also went on to complete a Master’s degree at the Southern University in Baton Rouge.

“We just thought it was a really good fit for us to be able to have someone like a Benny Guilbeaux who could come in and inspire our students to think, to learn, to achieve and to care,” Esrom said, “care about the community, care about themselves a little bit more. With that being our mission, he fit in to it perfectly.”

Pitre took Guilbeaux around the school to introduce to some and re-introduce to others on the DHS staff, as Guilbeaux served as the assistant football and track coach during the 2010-11 school year. He left DHS to go serve as the defensive coordinator at Assumption High School.

“I’m happy to be here. I’m very familiar with a lot of the staff, a lot of the administration from when I was here before,” Guilbeaux said on being named athletic director and head football coach. “It’s good to be somewhere where you are respected, not to say I wasn’t respected in the other places, but I’m well-known around here for the most part and I’m very comfortable.”

When Guilbeaux walked to the back of campus Monday, he went into the weight room and gave an introductory speech to the athletes who were lifting weights in there. He told them things would be different.

“Be bigger than your sport,” Guilbeaux said on what his message to athletes is. “Sports can use you, especially young kids, and if you don’t use it as a vessel then you aren’t doing what you are supposed to be. Sports are extracurricular.”

He pointed out that he likes to see student-athletes taking care of business, whether it’s just taking care of paper work or getting education done. He said it’s about becoming aware of how society works.

“The world is not a nice place,” he said.

Guilbeaux, who has a wife and two kids, also talked about starting the kids off better fundamentally at younger ages because he believes it will have positive results on the back end. As far as improving the overall athletic department at DHS, he said he wants to improve the overall outcomes of each sport.

“What I mean by outcomes, wins, losses, it’ll be great to say everybody is going to win state but in that’s not realistic,” Guilbeaux said. “Making sure these kids, not only male athletes but female athletes, have opportunities once they are done with their selective sports.”

He said he’s also interested in bringing other sports to the school like soccer or golf.

“Give some kids who don’t fit into your garden variety of sports other avenues so they can pursuit some other interests.”

Guilbeaux said he plans to just showing the student-athletes that he once played football but still became a professional person but not in sports. He said just teach them to be well-rounded. As far as bringing success back to the football team specifically he already knows what he’s up against.

“The average football play lasts between four and six seconds,” Guilbeaux said. “Now, you take four or five plays here or there you can definitely change the outcome of a football game. But I’m aware that the school doesn’t have that many offensive, defensive lineman. That makes a big difference in the outcome of any football game.”

Guilbeaux said he doesn’t know the process of bringing in other coaches to join his staff on the sidelines and he will check into it. But he said he is “real familiar” with coaches: Jay Dykes, Barry Whittington, Brian Richardson and some of the others who come in from the community.

“I have some other guys in mind but if that doesn’t work out, I’m extremely comfortable with the guys who are already here.”

Guilbeaux played on the defensive side of ball in college and served as the defensive coordinator at Assumption High last year and he is expected to have a defensive mind, he doesn’t think so necessarily. He said the odd thing about all of that is he always approached his defense from an offense point of view. So, as the head coach of the Tigers, he’s leaning toward directing the offensive side of the ball.

“Growing up we played both sides of the ball and we would kind of in high school practice defense for about 15 minutes,” Guilbeaux said. “I don’t know if there was a rule then but we would practice maybe three, four hours offense. Everything was offense. It allowed me to be better on defense because I understood how an offense would try to pick apart a defense. If I’m on the offensive side of the ball, it would be a combination of things I experienced in college and I experienced in high school. Because the high school system that was run prepared student-athletes for college and a couple of them landed in the NFL.”

Pitre added: “The kids here have a golden opportunity and I hope they take heed and look at the coach that they have and come out, gear up and get ready for football, basketball, track, volleyball all those sports that are going to come up and just get excited about what we have and have a little more school spirit and school pride.”