Ferriday’s Cummings channels inner lion as head coach

Published 12:02 am Sunday, September 7, 2014

Cummings talks to his players in the locker-room during halftime of the 40-24 loss to Natchez High School. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

Cummings talks to his players in the locker-room during halftime of the 40-24 loss to Natchez High School. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — Cleothis Cummings’ Facebook profile picture is of a lion.

The head football coach for the Ferriday Trojans initially said it stood for his Zodiac symbol, Leo. However, there’s a deeper meaning to Cummings’ profile portrait.

“Lions are bred to protect and lead,” Cummings said. “I think a lion is one of the most fearless beasts God has ever created.”

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Protecting and leading perfectly illustrates Cummings’ life at work and at home. Whether Cummings is shaping warriors on the gridiron with his lion-like stare and roaring voice or spending time at home with his wife Zacki and daughters Cle’Onia and Cloi Cummings, the head football coach exhibits dominance as the head male of his pack.


Fresh off of a 24-0 victory against Vidalia in the jamboree Saturday night, Cummings didn’t waste time preparing for one of the biggest games of the season. Cummings stayed up late Saturday night and woke up early to get a few more glimpses of the Natchez Bulldogs he’s failed to defeat in his short tenure as head coach of the Trojans.

After visiting with his family, Cummings met up with his coaches to start breaking down film.

Once Cummings felt comfortable enough with his game plan, the Ferriday head coach returned home to spend more time with his family. There, his daughters performed their usual singing and dance routine all throughout the house.

“My daughters are pretty talented,” Cummings said.


No days off, not for the Ferriday football team at least.

Cummings welcomed his team on Labor Day with an 8 a.m. practice.

“Practice is at 8, so what does that mean?” Cummings asked his team immediately after his team’s dominant jamboree performance.

“Be there at 7:30,” answered the team in unison.

One by one, the team filed into the locker room on their day off from school. The Trojan players gathered around a television to review the jamboree and examine their mistakes. Tape of Jefferson County versus Natchez followed.

That’s when the Leo in Cleothis appeared.

“I like this dude right here,” said Cummings, pointing out a physical player on special teams. “Chance to lay somebody down right here, man.”

The players respond to Cummings tough talk, laughing at his subtle humor while respecting his desire to inspire toughness.

The team suited up in shoulder pads and helmets after lifting weights. Monday was a day used to teach fundamentals, as Tuesdays are normally reserved for the hard-hitting action that molds a physical Cummings’ football team.


Unfortunately, the weather hardly cooperates with football in Louisiana.

A thunderstorm forced the Trojans to go inside the gym Tuesday afternoon, but that didn’t deter Cummings’ relentless coaching style.

Ferriday Trojan jumping jacks traditionally signal the end of stretches and the beginning of sprints. However, Ferriday didn’t get halfway through spelling out Trojans before Cummings interrupted angrily.

“You practice like you play!” Cummings shouted, walking onto the court, looking around at his players. “We have to get ‘crunk’ from the start.”

Following Cummings’ chewing, the players ran eight sprints from one baseline to the other. One Ferriday player was trying to fix his helmet on the side, missing his turn for multiple sprints. Cummings was none too pleased, staring at him from across the gym every time he blew his whistle. Assistant coach Charles Cothern Jr. took notice of Cummings’ intimidating stare and told the player to get back in line without his helmet.

Following the sprints, the players ran suicides. Some gasping for breath, Cummings had to give them inspiration.

“Why are we not running full speed?” Cummings asked. “What is this? What do you think Natchez is doing right now? I guarantee you Natchez is game planning to beat us, and what are we game planning for? Let’s go, man. Who wants it?”

Cumming blew his whistle and told his players to get a break before the team did walkthroughs.

“Somebody has to want it bad enough,” said Cummings, leaning against the gym stage with his arms crossed. “Who’s going to show up Friday?”