Youth football in Brusly will be making a comeback this year with the Brusly Panthers, under the leadership of BHS alumnus, LSU national champion, and two-time NFL Super Bowl champion Randall “Blue” Gay.
For several years, the Westside Bulldogs football team has been the home to boys age 7-12 in West Baton Rouge wanting to learn the game of football. This year marks the first time in years that West Baton Rouge will have two football teams competing in the Tri-Parish Youth Football League.
When his son decided that he wanted to play football, Gay was still playing for the New Orleans Saints. He sent his son to play for the Bulldogs and attended games when he was able. After retiring, though, Gay was able to volunteer his time helping coach his son’s Bulldogs team.
Gay said he feels the time is right to bring youth football back to Brusly.
“When I was young, we had the Brusly Bears,” Gay said. “I had coaches like Norman LeJeune, Wayne Delapasse, and Pee Wee Berthelot. We learned football and discipline.”
Gay said that the leadership of the Brusly team was passed on to different people through the years, but eventually there was no one left to take the helm. He added, “Kids under 12 had nowhere to go, but the Westside Bulldogs welcomed the Brusly players.”
Gay said that as the years passed, traffic congestion worsened and people gained more and more commitments, making it continually more difficult to get the boys to practice in Port Allen.
“We have a lot of kids (in Brusly) that need to play football,” Gay said, adding that he is not simply wanting to create a team, but his goal is to build a program. “We want to be like the strong Parkview Baptist program.”
Gay said that he has the Town of Brusly and BHS Head Football Coach Erik Willis behind him 100 percent.
“I am going to teach the kids what Coach Willis is teaching (the high school players),” Gay said. “When they get to Coach Willis at the high school level, they won’t be shocked because they will be doing what they have always done.”
Willis said, “I am so glad Blue is getting involved. He is going to do a good job for the right reasons.”
Willis said that unlike many of the other sports at BHS, there isn’t an in-town feeder program for the football team besides at the middle school level.
“It is hard to find coaches to coach youth football,” he said. “Kids can get turned off really easily with the wrong coach.”
Willis said that he plans to help Gay with the endeavor, as well as support and give input whenever he is able.
Willis said that he thinks in the next few years the new youth league will become a great asset to the BHS football team.
Gay made clear that the addition of the Brusly team is not meant to divide the parish. “We are all under West Baton Rouge in the same league,” he said. “We need kids in Brusly as well as Port Allen to sign up to play, learn, and have fun. It helps our community.”
Gay mentioned that it was a West Baton Rouge bond that held him and former Saints teammate Tracy Porter, a Port Allen High graduate, together.
“I went to Tracy’s draft party, not knowing where he would eventually end up. It was a lot of fun to mentor him and to go through what we did together (winning a Super Bowl championship) because we were from the same place.”
The Tri-Parish Youth Football league includes, in addition to the Brusly Panthers and Westside Bulldogs, the Ascension Cougars, Bayou Lafourche Raiders, Gramercy Tigers, Westside Eagles, Vacherie Rams, and Lutcher Bobcats.
“If you are prepared to learn football, discipline and work hard, then you are welcome (to play for the Panthers),” Gay said. “We are going to develop these young men. That is what football did for me.”
Registration is going on now for both the Brusly Panthers and the Westside Bulldogs at the Port Allen Community Center through the West Baton Rouge Parks and Recreation.
Practices will begin July 21 and games will begin on August 30.
Gay said, “We are starting from scratch, so we need to get going.”
Anyone interested in coaching the Panthers can contact Terrance Gay at (225) 268-9292.