Duron ousts Evangel coach over ''ministry matter''
Brian McCallum / The Shreveport Times
Posted on April 12, 2003
Evangel seniors concentrating on classes and a possible 2003 fall clash with perennial USA Today No. 1 De La Salle of California had their world rocked Friday when they were informed assistant football coach Johnny Booty will no longer be with the team.
Calling it "a ministry deal," Evangel chancellor and First Assembly of God pastor Denny Duron confirmed that Booty is no longer coaching quarterbacks for the Eagles. Duron would not elaborate on the specific reasons for the firing.
"This is a ministry matter between me and as good a friend as I've ever had in the world," Duron said. "It is not a school decision and it's not a tuition matter or any of the other things people think."
Booty, the man who served as interim head coach and held the Eagles together while leading them to a state championship in 2001 when coach Dennis Dunn faced a legal battle, spoke of "no hard feelings" and said he regrets being able to coach to the end of the career of his son, quarterback John David.
"My time at Evangel was fantastic. I hate that I can't coach any more at this point," Booty said. "I had no intent of not seeing this through."
The coaching staff otherwise remains intact from the 2002 group that led Evangel to its third Class 5A state title in four years, but a number of players are pondering their option to leave. Several met at Booty's house Friday afternoon, including 2002 Class 5A state offensive MVP Jacob Hester.
"He wants to play with John David and (defensive lineman) Chris Bowers," said Nancy Hester, the fullback's mother. "There's still a chance, I believe, that John David is going to play at Evangel. It's a slim chance."
John David Booty has recently made a verbal committment to play college football for the University of Southern California. He is one English credit short of completing his high school education and could leave the school early.
"I'm sure he'll be making up his mind in the next few days," Johnny Booty said. "I know he loves his teammates, and he loves having quarterbacked Evangel."
Dr. James Moss, whose son Mark was an all-state offensive lineman as a junior for the Eagles in 2002, has encouraged his son and some of his friends to "weather the storm," but he would have preferred the split between Duron and Booty had not occurred.
"There's disagreement between Johnny Booty and Denny Duron, but to me the biggest issue of all is the kids," Moss said. "It seems to me like the decision should have been made for the children, not for personalities. ... I honestly don't think it was made for the kids."
Moss said his son is "really crushed" Booty will not be a part of the team and spoke highly of the former coach's work to keep Evangel financially afloat by heading a fund-raising campaign.
"The school was in financial trouble, and we needed that money," Moss said. "I know that Johnny was very effective in the capital campaign."
As for on-field highlights, Booty said he will remember the winless first season just as much as the championships but pointed to leading the team to the 2001 title as interim head coach as his personal highlight.
"It was a crisis time, and we kept it together at a crisis time," Booty said. "What I think about is how everybody pitched in to make it go."