The town of Crowley in southwest Louisiana is in the middle of rice and crawfish country. It’s also home to one of the most successful coaches in Louisiana high school football history. Lewis Cook has 347 victories as a head coach, third most among active coaches and fourth overall, surpassing the late Don Shows this year.
Cook is in his 45th season as a coach, 22 of them has been at Notre Dame. He’s guided the Pios to state championships three times 2000, 2009 and 2015.
Those teams shared a lot of the same qualities. A punishing ground game, a smart QB, a stout defense and a will to win. Those teams were also not filled with a bunch of D-1 prospects.
The 67-year-old Rayne native says he knew at a young age he wanted to coach.
“Probably in the sixth or seventh grade, we had to do a report of what we wanted to be and I talked about wanting to be a coach,” said Cook. “It’s been on my mind for a long time and now I’m in my 45th year. I guess that what’s I was meant to do. It’s been good, the good Lord has been awfully kind to me. We had some really good years and good times.”
The amount of success Cook has achieved is astonishing. He has led three different high schools to 31 state playoff appearances in 33 years as a head coach and has four state titles. His playoff record is 75-27.
His head coaching career started at Rayne High School in 1977. That team won just two games and missed the playoffs, but Cook never had another losing season as a head coach.
In 1989, while he was the head coach at Crowley, Cook led the Gents to a state title.
Cook also had two different stints as an assistant coach at the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette), where he coached future NFL players like Jake Delhomme and Brandon Stokley.
He’s also experienced his success with his children. The main reason he left USL for good in 1995 was so he could coach his three sons.
His son, Jeff, was the quarterback on Notre Dame’s 2000 state championship team. His youngest son, Stu, ran the ball 99 times in the Pioneers 2009 state title game. And his oldest son, Lewis Cook III has been a long time assistant.
Notre Dame seems poised to make another championship run. They are ranked number one in Class 2A by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association heading into their Week 4 matchup versus Catholic High of New Iberia.
The Pioneers lost to the Panthers in last year’s title game and lost a lot of players from the 2017 runner-up squad. But Cook is known for taking a bunch of new starters and molding them into a championship-caliber team by the time December rolls around and it becomes time for the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Prep Classic.
We don’t know what grade he received on that essay he wrote in sixth grade, but what is sure is that Lewis Cook has had a hall of fame coaching career.
Last year, Cook was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and he’s also a member of the Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame.