It is not our normal habit to use this paper's editorial page to discuss the departure of high school football coaches. But, then again, De La Salle's Bob Ladouceur is no normal football coach. He is a legend.
The announcement Friday of Ladouceur's retirement as head football coach of the Concord school was not entirely unexpected. The 58-year-old Ladouceur has, after all, been the head football coach there for 34 seasons and has won 399 games while losing just 25. He is the winningest coach in California high school history. Any coach in any sport at any level who wins 94 percent of his games deserves some special recognition.
Yes, we have heard the whining about how De La Salle can "recruit" the best players from all over Northern California and that is why they are so successful. For our money, that's bunk. The sustained excellence in De La Salle's football program is attributable to Ladouceur and his staff. Period.
His teams hold the all-time American high school record of 151 straight wins, five so-called national championships, five state championships, 28 North Coast Section titles. Oh yes, and De La Salle hasn't lost to a team from Northern California in 21 years. That is not a misprint; 21 years not 21 games.
Those accomplishments and many others have been detailed extensively in this paper's sports pages over the years and, especially, in the past few days.
While we are duly impressed with the achievements of Ladouceur's teams, we are more impressed with how they were accomplished.
De La Salle has never avoided or run from any opponent. It has taken on all comers.
And, unlike many who accomplish great things in football, Ladouceur's teams did not tauntingly thumb their chests and scream about their victories at the top of their lungs. Instead, they projected the quiet and humble demeanor of the head coach. They let their actions on the field speak more loudly than they ever could.
Those teams have performed with the precision rarely seen at the high school level. Anyone who knows anything about the program knows that no detail was ever left to chance on a De La Salle football team.
Ladouceur is famous for his precise, detailed and repeated instruction to each of his players. While he had several players go on to careers in the NFL, and even more who played at the college level, there were plenty who didn't do either. But each player left the program knowing how to expect the most from himself.
It has been Ladouceur's personal mission to push every single player -- whether gifted or not -- to live up to his potential. It is his greatest strength. That is the highest compliment we can pay any teacher.
And, make no mistake, Ladouceur is a teacher. Besides coaching football, he teaches religious studies at De La Salle with the same precision and expectations he has demanded from his athletes.
We join the chorus and offer our congratulations to Bob Ladouceur for the contributions to excellence he has made in the East Bay.