fighting eagles

Words: Christine Harvey

Photography: Christaan Felber 


As the oldest public high school in New Orleans, Warren Easton demanded a certain amount of respect. Yet after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, some suggested it remain closed. Hundreds of students, parents, and faculty members rallied to "Bring Easton Back." Since 2006, the working-class school has outpaced its contemporaries in the classroom as well as on the field, becoming a city and state powerhouse. 

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Though seen by many as a tough, inner-city school, with a 100% minority population, the statistics belie the cliché. In the eight years since Warren Easton became a charter school, its academic scores have risen steadily, and in 2009 it earned recognition as a National Blue Ribbon School.

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As the city's oldest public high school, the school has its share of well-known alumni, including local football heroes, politicians, writers, and musicians. Yet few match the star power of its most famous benefactor, Academy Award-winning actress Sandra Bullock. Bullock “adopted” the school following Katrina, donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to help fund an on-campus health clinic, scholarships, building renovations, and sports equipment, including band and cheerleading uniforms.

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The Eagles began the 2014 season ranked as the No. 14 team in the nation. Senior wide receiver Tyron Johnson (pictured) and quarterback DeShawn Capers-Smith led Easton's high-powered offense. By year's end, Capers-Smith committed to Texas A&M, while Johnson decided to stay “home” at LSU.

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Post-Katrina, Easton did not field a team until 2007, the year coach Tony Hull arrived. That season, Hull had to scramble just to fill the team's ranks. This was the NOLA native's first head-coaching job. Initial years were rough, though the school's new designation as a charter meant that Hull could attract talent from throughout the city.

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One win, two wins, four wins, six. Steadily, the Eagles grew in size and stature. And in 2013, Easton made it to the state quarters.

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A tough loss to Woodlawn in September knocked Easton out of the national Top 50. But by early November, the Eagles were 8-2, with a share of the District 9 class 4a title, and on their way to the state playoffs for the second year in a row.

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After sweeping through four playoff games, on December 12 Easton faced state powerhouse Neville (Monroe) in the class 4a final at the Superdome, looking for its first Louisiana state title since 1942. The Eagles los 27-28. Still, the school's future remains bright.