glory days: w.e. nola

There’s a historical marker that sits out front of Warren Easton’s building at 3019 Canal Street that dates the institution all the way back to 1844, making it the oldest public high school not just in New Orleans but all of Louisiana. Easton became co-ed in 1952, integrated in 1967, and came back to life in 2006, after the Orleans Parish School Board tried shuttering it following damage suffered during Hurricane Katrina. The school’s latest chapter was kicked off by a loud, vocal community—including prominent alumni such as the rapper Master P and NOLA jazz superstar Trombone Shorty, and newfound local booster and Oscar-winning actress Sandra Bullock. But it’s been made true by Easton’s football coach, Tony Hull.

When Hull, a New Orleans native and former NASA engineer, arrived at his first head-coaching job in 2007, the school’s football reputation was in tatters, unable to field a team even in the year before its player-students scattered to other schools post-Katrina. Hull persevered—and re-built the program squad by squad. Come 2014, an incredible quarterback, Deshawn Capers-Smith, and the blue-chip All-America wide receiver Tyron Johnson anchored the Fighting Eagles. The scene was set to complete the school’s comeback. Easton was going to the Superdome to face one of Louisiana’s high school football powers, Neville, in the Class 4A championship, hoping to bring back to Canal Street its first state title since World War II.

Directed by Colin Barnicle for Victory Journal’s “Glory Days” series.