Neal Lege returns to Iota football
IOTA – Who said you can never go home again?
Certainly not Neal Lege.
Six years after leaving his job as head football coach of the Iota Bulldogs for a job at his alma mater, Acadiana, Lege will be returning to Iota in the same capacity he held when he left.
He will replace Marcus LeJeune, who recently asked for and was granted a transfer to Rayne High School where he will be an assistant coach.
“It’s going to be nice coming back home,” said Lege, who still resides in Iota. “It was an opportunity that came up. Marcus told me he was leaving so I started looking into it. You know, the drive (to Acadiana) was getting kind of old and this was an opportunity for me to come home and be where my kids are.”
Lege spent 17 years at Iota, three as a head coach, before leaving in 2005. He has been the team’s defensive coordinator for the last two years.
During his stint at Acadiana, he has helped lead the Rams to four Class AAAA state finals appearances, two state titles and two quarterfinal appearances.
Lege hopes to bring some of that winning tradition back to Iota, where he won a state title in 1999 as an assistant.
But getting back to the level of play will be a challenge.
The Bulldogs have struggled in recent years, making the playoffs just once (2008) since Lege left.
“We will be in a rebuilding phase,” said Lege. “I say rebuilding, it’s more revitalizing more than anything. We’re still going to play Iota football, still play hard. It’s just that they’ve been down the past couple of years and that kind of thing goes in cycles.
“I haven’t seen the kids, I haven’t talked to anybody yet, but I’m anxious to meet with the coaches and the players and get started.”
The only coach still on staff at Iota who was on the staff when Lege left is Bill Smith.
“Bill is the only one,” said Lege. “But I know all the coaches and we have a pretty good staff. We have some guys that have been here, they know the kids and that will help the transition go a little smoother. They know the kids better than I do. I’m going to learn them on the run when we hit spring.”
And spring practice can’t get here fast enough for Lege.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Lege. “It’s going to be a new thing, you know: new challenges and it’s a new type of football atmosphere. At Acadiana we were pretty well established. Heck, I was the youngest coach over there and now coming over here, I’ll be the oldest coach.”
Iota, like all schools, will begin its 10-day spring practice on Monday, May 9.