New ESJ coach Foster vows for “aggressive” gameplan on football field
By RYAN ARENA
RESERVE — Alden Foster has always held an interest in the River Region’s football teams while coaching at Amite — and now, he’s part of its coaching fraternity.
That’s because Foster has been officially named East St. John’s new head football coach and athletic director, St. John the Baptist Parish Schools Superintendent Kevin George officially announcing the decision Wednesday and wrapping a search process that began in early December.
“I’d told someone awhile back, if I ever were to leave Amite, it would be for a place like East St. John,” said Foster, who is an Amite alumnus. “You know you’re going to have athletes, facilities and community support … without a doubt, it was a very difficult decision. Ultimately, you always are going to want to compete on the highest level, and that’s where East St. John is.”
He succeeds Phillip Banko, who was dismissed in early December after four seasons with the team.
Foster was reportedly one of four finalists for the job, along with West St. John’s Robert Valdez, former St. Augustine coach Cyril Crutchfield and East St. John defensive assistant Antoine Carter.
It was the second time Foster and Valdez were each up for a coaching position in St. John Parish. When Laury Dupont stepped down at West St. John following the 2007 season, it was Valdez getting the nod ahead of a roster of candidates that included Foster.
George said Foster’s selection came after an interview process that included an initial screening of experience and credentials, first interview, reference check and a final interview. The search process involved interviews with faculty, coaches, players and members of the community on what they were looking for in the next East St. John football coach.
Did Foster check off all the boxes of criteria?
“Absolutely,” George said, without reservation. “Check, check and check.”
The Superintendent cited Foster’s passion for all sports as a major point of impression during the interview process, noting his gridiron resume “speaks for itself.”
“Speaking about managing an entire athletic program and taking all sports to the next level … it told me his mind wasn’t going to be on football and only football,” George said. “He wants to be a part of a program that produces good young men and ladies.”
Foster compiled an impressive record in his seven seasons at Amite, his team finishing as state runner-up twice, in 2011 and 2014. The 2011 loss came by a 9-8 score at the hands of his now local rival, St. Charles Catholic. He also led St. Helena to a state finals appearance in 2004, falling to West St. John.
“St. John Parish has always interested me since (the West St. John loss),” Foster said. “I knew St. John always had good athletes, good support and the people were good people.”
Foster’s overall record at Amite was 68-21, with five seasons of 10 wins or more. The Warriors were district champions in six of his seven seasons. He has 13 years of experience as an athletic director and 18 as head coach.
He now enters into a football district with powerhouse local foes Hahnville and Destrehan, where he will match wits with DHS’ Stephen Robicheaux and HHS’ Nick Saltaformaggio.
“Obviously, Coach Robicheaux is one of the best to ever do this, and you can say the same for Coach Saltaformaggio,” Foster said. “It’ll be a big challenge. It’s why it’s important to have a staff of strong coaches around you.”
He graduated from Southern A&M University in Baton Rouge, where he also played football, and has earned a master of arts in teaching from SLU.
Foster is expected to be on campus by Feb. 2.
He didn’t go too far into specifics when asked about his on field coaching philosophies, but Foster stressed overall discipline and toughness, and said when it comes to defense, making the opposing quarterback uncomfortable is paramount.
“If you let him sit back there and pick you apart, it’s over,” he said. “We want to make life difficult for them. Offensively, we’re going to be multiple and focus on getting our athletes the ball in space. We’re going to be aggressive and attack.”
George called Foster a “proven winner.”
“He’s had extraordinary success wherever he’s been,” George said. “He has a proven formula, a man with a plan. We need to support, get behind and listen to him and we’ll have that success at East St. John. And we will.”