It's hard to imagine Teurlings playing football without Sonny Charpentier coaching, prowling the sideline with a headset on and a towel over his shoulder.

Charpentier is one of a kind. He's a classic southern gentleman, a brilliant football coach and a respectable, steady role model. After more than two decades of coaching the Rebels on the football field, he's hanging up the headset. To say he will be missed is a severe understatement.

Countless players, coaches and families were touched by Charpentier's guiding hand since he joined the Rebels in 1988. He won 194 games and 11 district titles as a football coach, but his impact goes far beyond the football field. If you never knew Sonny, I will try to describe him the best I can.

I still remember the first time I met Sonny. As a 23-year old reporter, I covered my first Teurlings game in a jamboree. The Rebels lost, but he still let me follow him into his office to talk. He spoke plainly and calmly, which is part of what makes him great. I asked for his number, and from that point on he never declined an interview, practice visit or any other request I put forward. He was a class act from day one, and that never changed.

Sonny Charpentier is special. His two sons, Dane and Roch, are brilliant young coaches, and who do you think they learned from? He coached players like Jake Delhomme, who went on to lead an NFL team all the way to the Super Bowl, but he also succeeded in teaching young men how to be model individuals. Coaching goes beyond the X's and O's on the whiteboard, where he drew up unique offenses and genius game plans. The impact he made will be felt years into the future, as the young men he coached turn into leaders in their community.

Many people know Coach Charpentier better than I do, but he makes an impression on everyone. I can only describe the man I met and had the pleasure of getting to know, and I will hope the picture I paint comes close to the portrait of manhood he displayed daily.

Charpentier is unflappable. I feel like he could coach in the middle of a hurricane, surrounded by turmoil and destruction, and still notice a missed block or an open receiver that didn't get the ball. The walls of his office could crumble around him, and he would sidestep the falling rubble casually and walk on the practice field like nothing happened. His car could break down, and he would walk to work on swollen heels, wipe the sweat off his brow with his signature towel, and lead his team onto the field to sharpen their skills.

He sets an example for his players and teaches them how to deal with adversity. If the leader is calm, so are the troops. His steady hand guided Teurlings for years, and even though he won't be coaching anymore, he's still not completely leaving the program.

Charpentier will remain as the Athletic Director for the Rebels, overseeing their progress from a less hands-on perspective. The future for Teurlings is unknown at this point, but with his guidance, there should be no concern for the fans and players.

The obvious choices to take over would be his sons, Dane and Roch. Dane assured health was not an issue in his father's retirement, but he also said it came as a surprise to the family. Apparently, the 60-year old ball coach still has tricks up his sleeve.

Whoever takes over for Charpentier has huge shoes to fill, but he will still be there to help. He wouldn't leave Teurlings if he didn't think there were safe hands to carry the load he shouldered for years. It's hard to even quantify what he deserves for his efforts, but at the very least he deserves a thank you.

Thank you, Sonny, for doing things the right way. Thank you for guiding hundreds of young men that were entrusted to you by their parents. Thank you for being an example to follow, a bright beacon of brilliance, with grace and humility to spare. Thank you for caring. Thank you for being honest. Thank you for being you, plain and simple.

The entire Acadiana area will miss Sonny Charpentier. He was truly one of a kind.