Tensas Academy head football coach Joe Coats has spent more than 40 years on the football field. And he's still going at it.
"The heat has been hard," said the 70-year old Coats.
Coats began coaching as a student assistant coach at Neville in 1972.
"The good thing is I have John Crigler helping me," Coats said. "He has been a big asset."
Coats led Tensas to the 8-man state championship in 2011.
Coats, who led Tallulah Academy to an 8-man state football championship in 2016, has won state championships at Neville, Tensas Academy and Tallulah Academy.
Coats retired after the 2016 season, and was ready once again to relax at his Somerset Hunting Club in Newellton when he heard Tensas Academy was without a football coach.
"It looked like they were not going to have a football team, and I knew if that happened it would not be much longer before they would not have a school," Coats said.
Coats was part of four state football championships at Neville. He played for and was an assistant coach to the legendary Charlie Brown when the Tigers won the state championship in 1972, '83 and '84 and won the state title as head coach at Neville in 1995 as the Tigers defeated Hahnville in the 5A state championship game.
Coats, an avid hunter, retired from Neville and moved to Somerset Hunting Club in Newellton.
While on vacation hunting in Jackson Hole, Wy., Coats received a call from Tensas Academy. Chris Jacobs accepted a coaching job in Tennessee on the first day of football practice.
Tensas went 6-5 in Coats' first year in 2007, but because of decreasing numbers joined the 8-man league in 2008.
In 8-man football, there are two less linemen and one less running back.
The Chiefs lost in the title game that season, and also in the championship game in 2009. Tensas, which did not lose a regular season game for three straight years, won it all in 2011, defeating Sharkey-Issaquena for the championship.
There are now 28 8-man football teams in the MAIS.
"I think we will do all right this year," Coats said. "We small on the offensive line. But we should be able to hang in there."
Coats will be counting on senior John Arthur Frazier at quarterback and senior running backs Chris Davis and Jashard Marvel.
"We should be able to run the ball," Coats said. "We're in a tougher district, but I like our chances to make the playoffs."