James Waguespack, the only head football coach in Louisiana prep history to lead two different schools to undefeated state championship seasons, has died.
Waguespack, 76, who was inducted into the Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame last April, suffered a stroke at his home in Cecilia on Sunday and died Monday.
Waguespack’s 1979 St. James team went unbeaten, including a 14-8 triumph over Wossman to win a state title and his 1995 Cecilia squad defeated Karr 12-9 for another crown on his way to a 231-145 record in 32 years as a head coach.
Leading St. James to the only state championship the school ever won on its home field, Waguespack’s Wildcats, who went into the game ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, and Wossman were tied 8-8 after regulation in their 1979 classic.
The game marked the first time in Louisiana high school history that a championship game went to overtime. In past years, a game that ended in regulation – even with a state title on the line – was decided by the team with the most first downs in the game.
Luckily for the Wildcats, the new rule had just been implemented. Under the old rule, St. James would have lost because Wossman had more first downs.
Wossman won the toss and elected to take the ball first in overtime from the St. James 10-yard line. A bad snap on second down led to a loss, with an 11-yard pass from Wossman quarterback Ricky Foy Michael Grant down to the 4-yard line.
The St. James defense stopped Wossman on fourth down and turned the ball over to the Wildcats’ offense.
St. James running David Charles ran the ball down to the 1-yard line on first down. On second down, Charles, behind a block from center Harold Hymel, plunged into the end zone to give the Wildcats a 14-8 and the fourth state title in school history.
Waguespack was a player on the Wildcats’ first-ever state title when SJH defeated Oberlin in 1959.
Playing at Oberlin, against a team led by Hoyle Granger, who would go on to play at Texas A&M and became the all-time leading rusher in American Football League history, the Wildcats won 19-6.
Waguespack’s biggest claim to fame as a player may have come a week earlier in the semifinals against Zachary.
St. James was clinging to a 7-6 lead late in the game and Zachary was driving for a potential game-winning score.
Waguespack, who played in the secondary on defense, was beat to the end zone by Zachary receiver James Pellegrin. The 5-foot-6 Waguespack jumped on the back of the 6-foot-6 Pellegrin.
Instead of a touchdown, the pass interference all only cost the Wildcats 15 yards. More importantly for St. James, the defense held, allowing SJH to win its first-ever state title.
Following his coaching stint at St. James, Waguespack went on to be head coach at Cecilia and later Beau Chene.
At his second tenure as a head coach, Waguespack led Cecilia to unprecedented school success. He led Cecilia to the state championship game in 1992 and 1993 before capturing the state title in 1995.
Waguespack is survived by his wife, Monica, sons Greg and Randy, along with daughters Debbie, Angela and Allison.
Because of inclement weather expected in the gulf due to tropical system, Waguespack’s funeral arrangements have been moved up a day. Visitation now will be held from 4-8 p.m. Thursday at Pellerin Funeral Home in Cecilia. Visitation also will be held from 8-11 a.m. Friday, followed by a funeral mass and burial at St. Philip Catholic Church in Vacherie.