The man who started the football program at Coushatta High School in the early 1950s was laid to rest this past weekend. Coach Gene Knecht passed away last Monday at age 88.
Knecht was a long time assistant coach and employee at Northwestern State University. He and wife, Dot were strong supporters of the university sports programs. But before that, he was a coach fondly remembered by residents of Red River Parish for his tenure in Coushatta.
In 1952, Knecht started the football program at Coushatta High and over his last four seasons went 37-3, winning three straight district championships. Among his standout players at Coushatta, several moved on to play for the Demons, including N-Club Hall of Fame members Jerry Fowler, Johnny Ray Norman and Ferrell Yarbrough. They all played professionally, along with N-Club Hall of Fame member and longtime state senator Don Kelly.
After leaving Coushatta, Knecht went 15-5 in two seasons at Winnsboro before joining coach Jack Clayton’s Demon staff. He came on board as a graduate assistant in 1961, and then became full-time as an assistant coach and physical education instructor in 1962.
Former Coushatta Mayor Archie Worsham says it was Knecht who got him involved in the school athletic program in the early 50s. Former Coushatta High Principal Larine Adcock also remembered Knecht as a great individual and friend.