GF Media Day 2023 Preview: J.S. Clark Leadership Academy (Opelousas, LA)

Head coach Ross Akpan and the J.S. Clark Leadership Academy Bulldogs are looking to show off their talent to the state this fall in their first season as a football program. Coach Akpan brings a ton of experience to Opelousas as he has served on many different coaching staffs with lots of success. Akpan was previously the offensive coordinator/offensive line coach at Madison Prep, where he led his team to a 32-8 record in three seasons (2020-2022). He has won multiple state championships in the past and is looking to bring the same degree of success to this newly built Bulldog football team.

Previous to his time at Madison Prep, Akpan served as offensive coordinator and then head coach for BPA Post Grad from 2018-2020. He spent the 2017 season as the offensive coordinator of another post-graduate program Southern Prep. Before that, he had different coaching positions as an assistant at Coahoma Community College in Mississippi and Southern University Lab in Baton Rouge. He is someone who not only knows the game of football but knows how to shape young men into leaders. He gave an interesting take on why he finds J.S. Clark to be so unique and special.

“JS Clark is really built on trying to transition in young boys into leaders. It works with my philosophy as a football coach because I say all the time that we’re trying to if we keep pushing these young men to become leaders and become real men within their homes within the community and then football can just be the catalyst so their philosophy is that so it works hand in hand with what I’m doing in the football program. I believe the football program adds to the seasoning of the sauce of what they have going on at the school. It is one of the best academic schools in the area. You know they got a waiting list a mile long. You know, charter school, the education is what it is so football gave some kids that might not have had the opportunity to go to JS Clark an opportunity, and I think that’s wonderful. Yeah, we are just making things better for our city.”

J.S. Clark Leadership Academy Head Coach Ross Akpan

Coach Akpan is looking to bring some of the traits of his previous teams over to Opelousas with him. He is an offensive coach who likes to score points so he is trying to instill that mindset into his players this summer. He gives us a look as to how he wants his team to be like come the football season.

“Aggressive. Oh. we’re gonna be a very aggressive football team. My style has always been kind of aggressive and excitable. You know, for anybody who knows me as far as coaching, I’m an O-Line guy. I’m often the guy that likes to make scoreboard light up to be excited about jumping around and talking and getting each other excited. They’re getting my view of things, and I’m seeing them get my thing on the sideline at practice. You see their chest poking out like let’s go to war, ready to go so we got that, that thing is going right now, and it’s bubbling right now. We’re not at a boil yet, but definitely bubbling.”

J.S. Clark Leadership Academy Head Coach Ross Akpan

Ross Akpan is a very knowledgeable coach who wants nothing but the best for his players. He has had many mentors along his football journey and they have given him some interesting advice. He is taking that advice into his first season with the Bulldogs.

“Best advice I’ve been given is from Landry Williams and he told me that you cannot be the type of coach that runs down kid’s throat. If they don’t know you, love them first. Yeah, I think that’s the best advice I would give, and that’s the best advice I would give any other coach. They have to know you love them. Once they once they know that you love them. they’ll do anything for you. When you correct them and they know that correction is love, you know, that’s how God works, they’ll do anything for you. They won’t have the lipsmacking and talking back because they know Coach is telling me this out of love even with a mess up that I’m telling you to correct because I care. As opposed to, I’m just telling you to correct it just to not do it wrong. That’s what a coach does, yells and screams. They know now that when I’m fussing, I’m fussing for a reason. Just you know, ‘it’s Wednesday and I’m upset with what went on at home so I’m gonna fuss at you’ is not how I coach. I am trying to get across that I’m getting on you because of whatever is going on right now. I fuss when things are not up to our standard should be.”

J.S. Clark Leadership Academy Head Coach Ross Akpan

Coach Akpan is bringing lots of optimism into his first season at J.S. Clark, which is necessary in an upstart program. He is confident that he will have these young men/athletes ready come football season. J.S. Clark is normally known around the state for its athletics like track and basketball, so Akpan is looking to add football to the list. When asked about how he thinks the future of J.S. Clark will go, he answered as such:

“Future’s bright. You all better on some shades. We have some really talented kids who are going to grow together, which is, I think for any football coach, if they could say, ‘Hey, man, you get the opportunity to pick your poison of kids and let them grow up together from eighth and ninth grade and then see how they look in the senior year.’ They’d be like, ‘Yes, sir. Yeah, give me some of that.’ especially when you have a bunch of THAT kind of athletes, you just want to get better from here so now they have the guidance and they’re willing and they’re putting in the work, you can see the difference, and man we’re going to do some things and shock the world.”

J.S. Clark Leadership Academy Head Coach Ross Akpan