Ray Coates – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
Football/Baseball Player, Football Coach, 1941-70
Jesuit High School/LSU/NFL
Ray Coates was a four-sport letterman at Jesuit High School in the early 1940s. As captain of the 1943 Jesuit football squad, he led the Blue Jays to an 18-14 victory over Holy Cross, an undefeated season, and the Louisiana state championship. He also helped the 1941 Jesuit team to the state title.
In the 1943 Holy Cross contest before 25,000 fans at City Park Stadium, Coates alone picked up more yards than all of the Tiger ball carriers combined. His 70-yard touchdown run in the third quarter proved to be the game’s winning play.
In the 1943 state championship game, Jesuit found itself battling a tough Byrd team in Shreveport where the temperatures had dropped to 22 degrees. After Byrd scored on the opening drive, Coates gathered the team in the end zone, and according to the Clarion Herald’s Ron Brocato, told them, ““We’ve come this far, and now we’re fooling around. If we don’t mop up with these country (blankety-blanks), then we’re not the team I thought we were. Now let’s get going!”
Trailing 7-6 at halftime, Coates again took matters into his own hands, telling the coaches to stay out of the locker room. “Coach, you don’t have to say nothing. We’re going to beat the hell out of these guys.”
The Blue Jays won the game and the title, 25-7.
He went on to play football and baseball four four years, as well as one year of track, for LSU. He was the MVP of the 1947 Cotton Bowl and a member of the Tigers’ 1946 SEC championship baseball team. He held the LSU record for longest punt for more than five decades, a 76-yarder against Rice in 1944.
Coates was selected in the seventh round of the 1948 NFL draft by the New York Giants and went on to play two seasons in New York, calling plays for NFL legend and former LSU great Y.A. Tittle. He then began a coaching and teaching career. He was the head football coach at Catholic High School in Baton Rouge from 1953 to 1958, returned to his alma mater Jesuit High School in 1959 as an assistant coach and math teacher, and later became head coach from 1966 to 1970. In five years as the Blue Jays head coach, Coates posted a 40-12 record and earned three trips to the state playoffs as well as a District V-AAA title in 1970.
He continued teaching at Jesuit until his retirement in 1988. He was later inducted into the Louisiana High School Hall of Fame.
Born May 8, 1924, he died on July 3, 2013 at the age of 89.