Jake Bourgeois knows what French Settlement boys basketball used to be like. He also has an idea of what it can be in the future.
That’s why he’s coming home.
French Settlement High announced Bourgeois as its new head basketball coach in a news release Thursday.
Bourgeois, a 2009 graduate of FSHS who played for Kenny Gautreau, has been the head coach at Maurepas the past three seasons, guiding the Wolves to the playoffs each of those years.
“I’ve always loved the game my whole life, and I think it’s a really amazing opportunity for me to get back to where I graduated, where I sweat and bled on that court and get to teach the game that I love to some great boys that they have over there,” said Bourgeois, who remembered a time when FSHS was No. 1 in the Class 2A power rankings during his senior season. “I want to get back to winning.”
FSHS principal Lee Hawkins, who said the hiring was finalized Thursday morning, said Bourgeois was a natural fit for the program.
“He graduated from here," Hawkins said. "He played here. He’s friends with a lot of the older brothers of the guys on the team now, so it was something that was certainly appealing for him and for me too, knowing that he has pride in the community and the school. He understands the culture, has a lot of relationships, and we feel like he’s going to stay for a while.
“I did have some quality applicants, and I was able to talk to a lot of candidates and some good candidates, but whenever you get somebody that’s from here, the community was really behind Jake in this whole process. I think he’s going to be a great fit.”
The cupboard won’t be bare for Bourgeois, who will take over a team that returns seven players who will be seniors, including Jonas LeBourgeois, Cedric Witkowski and Roman Hodges. But Bourgeois said he intends put his own stamp on the team’s style of play.
“I know we’re never going to be the most athletic team that’s going to be in the district or in (Class) 2A, so I really just want to bring back a slower-style pace to where we can succeed with ball control, and we want to play inside-out offensively,” Bourgeois said.
Bourgeois said he wants to focus on the ‘fundamentals of man-to-man defense’.
“Defensively, that’s where we need to start. I think that’s where we need to improve the most, and I think that’s what’s actually going to turn our program around,” he said.
“My goal for every game is always keep a team under 10 points per quarter. If we can to that, I feel like we should be able to beat anybody if they score under 40 points per game.”
The release said Bourgeois intends to begin putting together a staff immediately. Bourgeois said that staff will include former FSHS player Jackson LeBourgeois, who was an assistant last season.
“Jackson works really well with the kids from what I’ve seen,” Bourgeois said.
Bourgeois said he’s hoping to get the Lions to a couple of team camps over the summer.
Hawkins said part of Bourgeois’ vision for the program includes getting students involved in the program in elementary school through Biddy Basketball.
“(It’s) just building it from the bottom up and beginning to establish those relationships,” Hawkins said. “(For) some people, French Settlement might be just a stepping-stone job to another job and this somewhere he wants to stay, so he’s definitely good with investing all that time in those younger kids, because in five, seven, eight years, he’s going to see the fruits of his labor.”
Bourgeois takes over after Chase Delrie, who was relieved of his coaching duties in December, and Roy Moore, the French Settlement junior high coach, finished the season as the interim coach.
“We have everyone coming back – a quality group of players, so I definitely think that we can be successful immediately, and we should get better and better as he continues to build his program,” Hawkins said.
Bourgeois’ departure leaves Maurepas in the market for a new coach.
“He had brought stability to our program,” Maurepas principal Kenny Kraft said of Bourgeois. “He’s done a really good job, especially with our young kids, working on fundamentals and trying to build our program back up.”
Kraft said he wants to hire a coach with experience at the high school level and the candidate must be certified in social studies/physical education. His goal is to have the vacancy filled by June 1.
“I don’t think there’s a whole lot of coaches out there, so we’re just hoping to find the right fit for our school and for our program,” Kraft said. “It’s tough sometimes to find that right fit, but we’re hoping to find that right fit because we’ve got a great school here and great people.”
Bourgeois said he’s glad to be coming home, mentioning the names of FSHS coaching legends Gerald Keller and Johnnie Rogers while talking about the program’s history.
“That’s some big footsteps to come into, and I just want to bring that program back to where it used to be …,” Bourgeois said. “I’m excited that I went there and I have a chance to try to help out with that.”
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