Louisiana coach J.T. Curtis wins 500th game

Coach J.T. Curtis consoles his team after losing the Class 2A championship in New Orleans in 2010. He has coached his team to 23 state titles over the years. Patrick Semansky/AP

There are now two members of the exclusive “500 Club.”

With a 49-6 win over Clark (New Orleans) on Thursday night for John Curtis Christian School (River Ridge, La.), head coach J.T. Curtis became just the second coach in high school football history to reach the 500-win threshold. Curtis joins John McKissick of Summerville (Summerville, S.C.) as the only coaches at any level -- high school, college or professional – to have amassed as many wins. McKissick, 85, has won a record 592 victories since 1952 entering his team's home game Friday against Beaufort (Beaufort, S.C.).

In the fall of 1969, after taking over for his father as head coach, the Patriots went 0-10. Only six players showed up to his first practice that summer. Since then, Curtis hasn’t had another losing season. The staggering success he and his teams have sustained over the years is well supported by the numbers. Now in his 43rd year at the helm of the program, his Patriots have won at least 10 games and made the playoffs for the past 35 seasons in a row. They have won 23 state titles, with the first coming in 1975, just six seasons removed from that winless first campaign. In each decade since 1980, he has led the Patriots to at least six state titles.

Curtis and his resilient team, school and community were the focus of a 2007 book that detailed their unique experience in recovering from the resonating influence of Hurricane Katrina (you can read an excerpt of the book here).

It’s always been a family affair in the winning program, as the 15-person coaching staff is stocked with eight family members. Curtis is also the school’s headmaster and an ordained minister in the tradition of his father, John, Sr., the school’s founder. A man of many leadership roles, you can find Curtis preaching on campus on Sundays or hosting a popular Friday night football television program that airs in New Orleans.

A legendary coach and leader added to his legacy on Thursday night, joining one of the most prestigious coaching clubs.