More than one opponent had done a double-take this year when peering into Lutcher’s defensive secondary.
Among jersey numbers beginning with a 1, 2 or 3, there is a No. 68 that seems like it doesn’t belong – until people watch Ben St. Pierre play. At that point, the consensus is that he could play anywhere.
“He has been Mr. Utility on the defense,” Lutcher coach Tim Detillier said of St. Pierre. “He’s played end, linebacker – inside and outside – free safety, he’s done it all.”
St. Pierre actually had one of those numbers more associated with the defensive secondary – No. 10 – although it had more to do with being a quarterback than a defensive back. The way the change from No. 10 to No. 68 came about is what has created a sort of Ben St. Pierre Admiration Society among coaches who know him best.
“There is probably not a kid playing anywhere that I respect more than Ben just because of the type of kid he is,” said Dwain Jenkins, the current St. James head coach and former Lutcher assistant back in St. Pierre’s younger days. “He’s a kid I watched growing up being on the staff at Lutcher.
“The biggest thing about Ben that you respect from a coaching perspective, in this day and age, kids are not willing to give up material things and things that just make them look good.”
Seeing a need along Lutcher’s thin offensive line, St. Pierre, going into his senior year, went to Detillier and offered to play on offense. The move meant a change in jersey number.
“To have your number all those years and to get to your senior year and you volunteer because you know the situation that we just don’t have offensive linemen, he could play there,” Detillier said. “His future is not offensive line. Everybody knows that. He knows that. But he knew we needed the help and he was one that could snap the ball. He’s our deep snapper on punts and stuff.
“That’s hard to find in America 2015. A lot of times your number is just so important to you or your position. That has never fazed Ben. He was, ‘hey, where do you need me, coach?’”
“This year, as a senior to go to the coaching staff and say, ‘we need help on the offensive line. I want to do what’s best for the team,’ and go from No. 10 to No. 68 and play center, I don’t think there are any words that can describe the type of kid that is willing to put his team first and do that type of thing,” said Jenkins.
The move to offensive line, St. Pierre, was not his move alone.
“At the beginning of the year, I knew we needed offensive linemen. We just don’t have the size,” St. Pierre said. “So me, (Sully) Laiche, and Tyler (Williams) just had to do what we had to do. We knew if we wanted to win this season we had to play offensive line, so we did it.”
Donning a No. 10 jersey for St. Pierre came about because the Bulldogs needed a quarterback.
“Coach Jenkins was still here at that time and he wanted a quarterback and couldn’t find anybody and he came to me and he knew I could handle the pressure of it,” St. Pierre recalled. “I took on the challenge and tried that and I ended up breaking my elbow and couldn’t play that spring so I didn’t play quarterback that year and the following year I ended up staying on defense.”
“I was the person who helped Ben get that No. 10 jersey that his dad wore in high school,” Jenkins remembered. “When Coach Detillier came to Lutcher, it’s always been his policy that quarterbacks get first pick of numbers. In Ben’s class when he was a freshman, we didn’t have any quarterbacks in that class.
“We had Jontre (Kirklin) coming up as an eighth grader and Dyan Recotta, who also was a quarterback at that point as an eighth grader but we didn’t have any as a freshman. I made Ben St. Pierre a quarterback and that allowed him to pick the jersey that he wanted and he got No. 10.”
The number was once worn by Ben’s father, Mickey St. Pierre, now a member of the Lutcher coaching staff.
“His dad wore No. 10 and he (Ben) had No. 10 because he started out as a quarterback and (getting) his dad’s number, that just worked out,” Detillier said.
Although his father never won a state championship as a player, he has as an assistant coach. It’s a moment the younger St. Pierre fondly remembers.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Ben said. “When they won it in ’08, I was 11 and I got to experience going to the Dome because my dad was a coach here. It was just the greatest feeling to be there. Now, to be there as player, I can experience it myself.”
Because of his team-first move, Ben and the Bulldogs are now a win away over rival St. James from capturing the Class 3A state title.
And it really won’t matter where the younger St. Pierre lined up.
“He’s a football player. Line him up and he’s going to play,” Detillier said.