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Tuesday August 21, 2018

THE ADVOCATE’S

FOOTBALL

2018

HEART

OF THE DEFENSE L I N E BAC K E R D E V I N W H I T E L E A D S T H E WAY F O R L S U

ADVOCATE STAFF PHOTO BY HILARY SCHEINUK

9550 Airline Hwy Baton Rouge, LA 225-926-8800

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MOVING SOON We’d rather sell em’ than move em’


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TABLE OF CONTENTS LSU, THE SEC AND THE NATION COLUMN: The Advocate’s Scott Rabalais says ... Do you take the long or short view on Ed Orgeron? COVER STORY: Linebacker Devin White A former small-town legend, White is a big-time talent Breaking down the Tigers Season preview: Can LSU shock the world? Schedule analysis, game by game SEC: Georgia won the league title, but Bama is still Bama SEC: Picking the conference’s best SEC: Team-by-team schedules NATION: Bowls, poll, rules changes, CFP dates NATION: Rabalais on how we watch the game

PAGE 3 PAGE 8 PAGE 5 PAGE 6 PAGE 12 PAGE 15 PAGE 16 PAGE 53 PAGE 18 PAGE 19

SOUTHERN AND THE SWAC Season preview: Southern’s offense is in flux Breaking down the Jaguars Feature: WR Russell Menard back for sixth year Schedule analysis, game by game SWAC: Picking the conference’s best

PAGE 20 PAGE 22 PAGE 23 PAGE 24 PAGE 26

TULANE AND THE AAC Season preview: Tulane united, confident Breaking down the Green Wave AAC: Picking the conference’s best

PAGE 30 PAGE 32 PAGE 34

UL-LAFAYETTE AND THE SUN BELT Season preview: New coach Billy Napier changes culture Breaking down the Ragin’ Cajuns Schedule analysis, game by game SUN BELT CONFERENCE: Picking the conference’s best

PAGE 36 PAGE 37 PAGE 40 PAGE 42

THE STATE PAGE 27 PAGE 44 PAGE 46 PAGE 47 PAGE 48 PAGE 49 PAGE 50 PAGE 51

Grambling UL-Monroe Southeastern Louisiana Nicholls State Northwestern State McNeese State Louisiana Tech Louisiana College

THE SAINTS Season preview: Saints focused on Super Bowl run Breaking down the Saints Feature: DT David Onyemata coming on strong

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HIGH SCHOOLS Feature: Sons inspired by NFL fathers Season preview: Can Baton Rouge repeat ’17 success? District 4-5A District 5-5A District 6-4A District 6-3A District 7-2A District 6-1A Area schools

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WAIT&SEE LSU: The Advocate’s Scott Rabalais on LSU coach Ed Orgeron

2018 has so many baked-in difficulties. Should those define LSU’s Orgeron?

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ADVOCATE FILE PHOTO BY BILL FEIG

LSU coach Ed Orgeron waits to bring his team onto the field before a game against Mississippi State last season in Starkville, Miss.

Framing & Décor

FRAMING MEMORIES 122 E. Sanders St., Gonzales

n the stock market of LSU football expectations, the question is whether to go short or bet on the long-term investment. And the market is, in Wall Street terms, TIME volatile. The short sell OUT SCOTT appears to be RABALAIS the smart play. Not just change but changes, huge sweeping ones that roll in from the gulf like a high tide, are inundating the Tigers in 2018. A new quarterback. A new tailback. New receivers. A new offensive coordinator. Off-field problems that came to light in preseason camp. A search to identify a starting cornerback. Even a new kicker. All topped off with what may be the nation’s toughest schedule this side of the NFC South. Presiding over it all is Ed Orgeron, who either inspires confidence or dread in the hearts of most LSU football fans, most of whom have still not gotten over losing Nick Saban to the Miami Dolphins in 2005. Orgeron, with his barrel-chested Cajun brogue

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LSU: The Advocate’s Scott Rabalais on LSU coach Ed Orgeron JOE BURROW

RASHARD LAWRENCE

FOSTER MOREAU

ADVOCATE FILE AND ASSOCIATED PRESS PHOTOS

RABALAIS

Continued from page 3 and sleeves draped in strong emotions, is Louisiana to his core. And at Louisiana’s core is football. It would seem to be a strong marriage, but there are whispers of concern. There are those who cannot forget Orgeron’s dreadful three-year stint piloting Ole Miss from 2005-07. The Rebels went 10-25 under Orgeron (3-21 in the Southeastern Conference), and there are plenty of LSU fans worried that the Tigers’ barge is about to ram into a bridge. LSU is no longer regarded as a legitimate national championship contender, an erosion of status that started under Les Miles. The Tigers haven’t even been to one of the New Year’s Six bowls since the College Football Playoff came into being four seasons ago. But LSU can still point with pride to the fact the Tigers have posted 18 straight winning seasons and been to 18 straight bowls. The

former is the best streak alive in the Southeastern Conference, and the latter is something only Georgia (21 straight bowls) can surpass. But this fall, a dreadful season by modern LSU standards, say 6-6 or 5-7, is a distinct possibility in a worst-case scenario. The schedule, which starts in Texas on Sept. 2 against Miami in Arlington and ends in Texas on Nov. 24 at Texas A&M, threatens to turn LSU’s football hopes for this season into so much chopped brisket at a roadside barbecue stand outside Lufkin. The hopes that LSU could return to AT&T Stadium in Arlington for the Cotton Bowl — one of the two CFP semifinals this year along with the Orange Bowl — seems like a wish placed on a distant star. But what if? What if LSU can get past this season without sinking to or below .500? What if the Tigers can show promise that while some tough times might be on the horizon in 2018, there are brighter days ahead. And what if Orgeron is the man for the job?

There is no expunging the record from his days in Oxford. Ole Miss was woeful then, although the Rebels were within a fourth-down conversion of upsetting the top 10-ranked Tigers in 2006 in Tiger Stadium before losing in overtime. But there is living in the past and learning from it. The argument can be made that Orgeron has done the latter in his past two head coaching tenures. Coach O went 6-2 as interim coach at Southern California in 2013 and is 15-6 in nearly two full seasons at LSU. That’s a combined record of 21-8, and that record compares favorably with other coaches around the country. How favorable? Only eight college coaches in their past 29 games have a better record than Orgeron: Saban (27-2 at Alabama), Clemson’s Dabo Swinney (26-3), Ohio State’s Urban Meyer (25-4), new UCLA coach Chip Kelly (25-4 at Oregon), Wisconsin’s Paul Chryst (25-4), Washington’s Chris Petersen (24-5), Miami’s Mark Richt (22-7) and Penn State’s James Franklin (22-7).

That’s it. Orgeron has the same record in his past 29 games as Stanford’s David Shaw and USC’s Clay Helton and a better mark over that span than Auburn’s Gus Malzahn (19-10) and Texas coach and one-time LSU target Tom Herman (1910). Even Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M’s new $75 million man, was a pedestrian 18-11 in his final 29 games at Florida State, leaving with a 5-6 mark as FSU’s interim coach steered the Seminoles to a pair of closing wins. To say Orgeron’s combined winning percentage at LSU and USC ranks in the top 10 of active college football coaches is surprising, and certainly skewed with the positive knob turned up to 11. And it’s not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison, as certain coaches have put their winning percentages on the line in championship games and CFP playoff appearances. But winning is winning, and the ultimate bottom line. In that respect, Orgeron has won with the best of them. To say he has LSU where LSU wants to be would be a

misstatement. But to say Orgeron knows what the Tigers need to get there would be accurate. LSU needs better talent and more depth on the lines of scrimmage and a better playmaker at quarterback. And then there’s the off-field problems: Three players were suspended because of legal issues that came to light during preseason camp, and two quarterbacks transferred before the season began. Still, the picture is not as gray as some would believe. And if the Tigers aren’t there yet, they are doing their best under Orgeron to make amends. The choice for LSU fans this season, of course, is whether to sell short or go long. There are no guarantees, but LSU has been a better return on the emotional investment than a lot of trophy-starved Tigers fans care to admit. Whether Orgeron’s fan base remain patient for the long term is the big question. Follow Scott Rabalais on Twitter, @RabalaisAdv.​


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LSU SEASON PREVIEW n LEADER

Junior Devin White, who led the SEC with 133 tackles a year ago, anchors Dave Aranda’s defense from his inside linebacker spot and serves as the unit’s vocal leader. White blossomed into an everydown player last season and could be a first-round draft pick if he enters the NFL draft next spring.

n ISSUE

With the departure of two-year starter Danny Etling, LSU needs a quarterback (any quarterback) to step up in a big way and run Steve Ensminger’s new spread offense with the confidence needed to steer the Tigers through an SEC schedule that’s more treacherous than usual.

n BREAKOUT PLAYER

At 6 feet, 4 inches and 238 pounds, sophomore K’Lavon Chaisson looks like he was born to play the Buck linebacker spot. Fast and explosive, he can come off the edge as a pass-rusher or drop into coverage. Arden Key set LSU’s single-season record with 12 sacks in 2016 playing that position, but White said he believes Chaisson will own that mark by season’s end.

Outside linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson

n OUTLOOK

The defense will be solid again, but many questions remain on the offensive side of the ball — particularly at quarterback, running back and the O-line. If the Tigers can get consistent play, especially at the QB spot, they might be able to surprise a few people.

n SCHEDULE

DATE 9.2 9.8 9.15 9.22 9.29 10.6 10.13 10.20 11.3 11.10 11.17 11.24

OPPONENT TIME/TV vs. Miami 6:30 p.m./ABC Southeastern 6 p.m./ESPN2 or ESPNU at Auburn 2:30 p.m./CBS Louisiana Tech TBD Ole Miss TBD at Florida TBD Georgia TBD Mississippi State TBD Alabama TBD at Arkansas TBD Rice TBD at Texas A&M TBD

n PREDICTION: 7-5 Sheldon Mickles


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LSU: Season preview

CAN LSU SHOCK THE WORLD? Tigers seem to have so many obstacles as they embark on the 2018 season

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hanks to a 9-4 campaign that included a stunning loss to Troy and ended with a shocking setback to Notre Dame in the Citrus Bowl — and included a change at offensive coordinator — questions abound heading into Ed Orgeron’s second full season as head coach. Here are some of the biggest storylines going into the 2018 season:

1.

3.

BY SHELDON MICKLES | smickles@theadvocate.com

SPREAD OUT

Remember when Steve Ensminger was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2016 and the LSU offense suddenly came to life en route to a 6-2 finish after Miles’ firing? Well, Ensminger is back in that role after a failed experiment with well-traveled offensive guru Matt Canada. Ensminger, a former LSU quarterback and longtime tight ends coach, has implemented the spread scheme using three-, four- and five-wide receiver sets, which should come in handy because the Tigers don’t have a marquee running back like Jeremy Hill, Leonard Fournette or Derrius Guice on the roster.

STEVE ENSMINGER

ADVOCATE FILE PHOTOS

HOT SEAT

Because LSU won “only” nine games a year ago, it has been fashionable for media to link Ed Orgeron’s name to stories examining possible coaching casualties for the upcoming season. The loss to Troy and last-seconds meltdown against Notre Dame helped stir the embers, which will certainly be fanned again with the Tigers’ first loss this season even though Orgeron is 15-6 since replacing Les Miles in 2016. A brutal schedule (more on that later) won’t help matters — unless Orgeron successfully navigates his team to another nine-win season.

2.

5.

QUARTERBACK CONUNDRUM

Former Purdue transfer Danny Etling helped steer LSU through some murky waters after coach Les Miles was ousted early in 2016. He led the Tigers to a 16-7 two-year mark before going to the New England Patriots in the draft in April. But after his presumed heir-apparent, Myles Brennan, and two others didn’t bring clarity to the situation in the spring, Orgeron’s staff successfully recruited Ohio State grad transfer Joe Burrow. Brennan is still around, but Justin McMillan and Lowell Narcisse split in midAugust. Will Burrow or Brennan be good enough? Is LSU too thin? Lots of drama here.

GREEDY WILLIAMS

SCHEDULE

LSU will play four teams that are ranked in the top 10 of the USA Today coaches preseason poll, with a fifth coming against a top 20 club. After going against Miami and Auburn in the first three weeks of the season, the Tigers face a daunting slate in October and early November. They play at Florida and then host Georgia, Mississippi State and Alabama with only an open date between the State and Alabama games to catch their breath. If that’s not enough, they play Arkansas and Texas A&M on the road in November.

6.

FIFTH IS NO FUN

4.

CORNERS NEEDED

While LSU figures to field another strong defense under the direction of Dave Aranda, the Tigers must identify another starting cornerback to pair with third-team All-American Greedy Williams and find a nickelback after losing Donte Jackson and Kevin Toliver from last year’s team. It didn’t help when the Tigers couldn’t sign longtime commitment Patrick Surtain in February, but Jontre Kirklin, Kary Vincent, Stanford grad Terrence Alexander and freshman Kelvin Joseph will get a chance to make an impact either on the outside or in the slot.

With that brutal schedule in front of them, not to mention the loss of a recordsetting running back like Guice and an experienced quarterback like Etling, it’s pretty easy to see why the Tigers were picked in that spot at SEC media days last month. Las Vegas oddsmakers already had LSU winning no more than seven games, which means the Tigers will have to spring an upset or two along the way to continue their streak of 18 consecutive seasons with at least eight victories.


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LSU: Roster # Name 1 Ja’Marr Chase 1 Kelvin Joseph 3 JaCoby Stevens 4 Nick Brossette 4 K’Lavon Chaisson 5 Kary Vincent Jr. 6 Terrace Marshall Jr. 6 Jacob Phillips 7 Jonathan Giles 8 Patrick Queen 9 Joe Burrow 9 Grant Delpit 10 Stephen Sullivan 11 Terrence Alexander 11 Dee Anderson 13 Jontre Kirklin 14 Drake Davis 15 Myles Brennan 17 Racey McMath 18 Foster Moreau 19 Derrick Dillon 21 Ed Paris 22 C. Edwards-Helaire 22 Kristian Fulton 23 Micah Baskerville 24 Chris Curry 24 Tyler Taylor 25 Tae Provens 26 John Battle 27 Lanard Fournette 28 Mannie Netherly 29 Greedy Williams 30 Eric Monroe 31 Justin Jones 31 Cameron Lewis 32 Avery Atkins 33 Todd Harris Jr. 34 Connor Culp 34 Zach Sheffer 35 Damone Clark 36 Cole Tracy 38 Josh Growden 39 Jack Gonsoulin 40 Devin White 41 David Ducre 42 Aaron Moffitt 43 Matt Brock 43 Ray Thornton 44 Tory Carter 45 Michael Divinity Jr. 46 Andre Anthony 46 Z. Von Rosenberg 47 Trey Gallman 47 Nelson Jenkins III 48 Dantrieze Scott 49 Travez Moore 50 Blake Ferguson 51 Dare Rosenthal 54 Davin Cotton 54 Rory Luke 55 Jarell Cherry 57 Chasen Hines 59 Seth Newsome 61 Cameron Wire 62 Justin Mikush 65 Jakori Savage 67 Cole Smith 68 Damien Lewis 69 Turner Simmers 70 Ed Ingram 71 D. Campbell 72 Tyler Shelvin 73 Adrian Magee 74 Badara Traore 76 Austin Deculus 77 Saahdiq Charles 78 Garrett Brumfield 79 L. Cushenberry III 81 Thaddeus Moss 82 Kenan Jones 83 Jaray Jenkins 85 Justin Jefferson 87 Wesley McKoy 88 Jacory Washington 90 Rashard Lawrence 91 Breiden Fehoko 92 Neil Farrell Jr. 93 Justin Thomas 97 Glen Logan 98 Dominic Livingston 99 Ed Alexander

Pos. WR CB S RB OLB CB WR LB WR LB QB S WR CB WR CB WR QB WR TE WR S RB CB LB RB LB RB S RB CB CB S RB S PK S PK TE LB PK P PK LB FB TE FB OLB FB OLB OLB P FB DT OLB DE SNP DT DT OL OLB OG DE OT OL OL C OG OL OG OL NT OL OT OL OT OG C TE WR WR WR WR TE DE DE DE DE DE DT NT

Ht. 6-1 6-1 6-2 6-0 6-4 5-10 6-4 6-4 6-1 6-2 6-4 6-3 6-7 6-0 6-6 6-0 6-4 6-5 6-3 6-6 5-11 6-0 5-9 6-0 6-2 6-0 6-2 6-2 6-2 5-11 6-3 6-3 6-1 5-8 6-2 6-1 5-11 6-0 6-3 6-4 5-11 6-2 5-9 6-1 6-1 6-3 6-2 6-4 6-2 6-2 6-4 6-5 6-3 6-4 6-5 6-4 6-4 6-8 6-4 6-4 6-3 6-4 6-1 6-7 6-4 6-6 6-3 6-3 6-6 6-4 6-4 6-3 6-4 6-7 6-7 6-5 6-4 6-4 6-3 6-3 6-3 6-2 6-0 6-5 6-3 6-4 6-5 6-5 6-4 6-3 6-3

Wt. 205 195 225 221 238 181 209 229 186 232 216 203 232 182 229 182 220 183 221 256 184 208 212 192 233 219 242 198 206 206 199 184 200 184 201 210 186 203 223 238 188 199 165 240 242 262 234 226 259 238 238 245 246 305 229 253 235 333 279 273 235 336 253 296 290 296 285 322 304 314 351 362 335 323 321 305 303 309 225 210 194 185 192 245 317 291 295 268 297 350 331

Cl. Fr. Fr. So. Sr. So. So. Fr. So. Jr. So. Jr. So. Jr. Sr. Jr. So. Jr. So. So. Sr. Jr. Sr. So. Jr. Fr. Fr. So. Fr. Sr. Jr. So. So. So. So. So. Fr. So. So. Fr. Fr. Sr. Jr. Jr. Jr. Sr. Fr. Jr. So. So. Jr. So. So. Sr. Fr. Fr. Jr. Jr. Fr. Fr. Jr. Fr. Fr. So. Fr. Sr. So. Fr. Jr. Sr. So. So. Fr. Jr. Jr. So. So. Sr. So. So. Fr. Fr. So. Jr. Sr. Jr. Jr. So. So. So. Fr. Jr.

Hometown (previous school) Metairie (Archbishop Rummel) Baton Rouge (Scotlandville) Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Oakland) Baton Rouge (University) Houston (North Shore) Port Arthur (Texas) Memorial Bossier City (Parkway) Nashville, Tenn. (East Nashville) Missouri City, Texas (Texas Tech) Livonia, La. (Livonia) The Plains, Ohio (Ohio St.) Houston (IMG Academy) Donaldsonville (Donaldsonville) New Orleans (Stanford) DeSoto, Texas (DeSoto) Lutcher (Lutcher) Baton Rouge (IMG Academy) Long Beach, Miss. (St. Stanislaus) New Orleans (Edna Karr) New Orleans (Jesuit) Franklinton (Pine) Arlington, Texas (Mansfield Timberview) Baton Rouge (Catholic) Metairie (Archbishop Rummel) Shreveport (Evangel Christian) Lehigh Acres, Fla. (Lehigh) Buford, Ga. (Lanier) Gurley, Ala. (Madison County) Hallandale, Fla. (Hallandale) New Orleans (St. Augustine) Crosby, Texas (Crosby) Shreveport (Calvary Baptist Academy) Houston (North Shore) Dallas (St. Mark’s School of Texas) Monroe (Wossman) Auburn, Ala. (Aubur) Plaquemine (Plaquemine) Phoenix (Desert Vista) Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. (Nease) Baton Rouge (Southern Lab) Camarillo, Calif. (Assumption College) Sydney, Australia (Clare) Baton Rouge (Catholic) Springhill (North Webster) Slidell (Lakeshore) Baton Rouge (Catholic) Chattanooga, Tenn. (McCallie School) Killeen, Texas (Shoemaker) Leesburg, Ga. (Lee County) Marrero, La. (John Ehret) New Orleans (Edna Karr) Lake Charles (Zachary) Prairieville (Dutchtown) Plaquemine (Plaquemine) Ferriday (Ferriday) Bastrop (Copiah-Lincoln CC) Buford, Ga. (Buford) Ferriday (Ferriday) Shreveport (Evangel Christian) New Orleans (Brother Martin) Dallas (Carter) Marshall, Texas (Marshall) Fredericksburg, Va. (Mountain View) Gonzales (East Ascension) Tomball, Texas (Klein Oak) Bay Minette, Ala. (Baldwin County) Pontotoc, Miss. (Pontotoc) Canton, Miss. (Northwest Miss. CC) Prairieville (St. Amant) DeSoto, Texas (DeSoto) Ponchatoula (Ponchatoula) Lafayette (Notre Dame) Franklinton (Franklinton Hyde Park, Mass. (ASA College) Cypress, Texas (Cy-Fair) Jackson, Miss. (Madison-Ridgeland) Baton Rouge (University) Geismar (Dutchtown) Charleston, W.Va. (N.C. State) Berwick (Berwick) Jena (Jena) Destrehan (Destrehan) Englewood Cliffs, N.J. (Rhode Island) Westlake (Westlake) Monroe (Neville) Honolulu (Texas Tech) Mobile (Murphy) Spanish Fort, Ala. (Spanish Fort) Destrehan (Destrehan) Houston (Davis) Hammond (St. Thomas Aquinas)

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ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO BY JOHN AMIS

LSU: Cover story: Devin White

BELIEVE The legend of Devin White, a small-town hero turned star LSU linebacker, is all true. What’s next?

D

evin White knelt to feed his mare in the quiet shade of a stable. The mare dipped her dark head into the palm of White’s hand — the same hand that tears footballs free from running backs and flings quarterbacks effortlessly to the ground. White is the centerpiece of LSU’s new blitz-heavy defense under defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, and after leading the NCAA in tackles in 2017, the 6-foot-1, 240-pound junior is expected to establish himself as one of the best linebackers in program history before taking the fast track to the NFL. But at Farr Park Equestrian Center, where the oak trees and picket fences block Tiger Stadium from view, the Cotton Valley native can also braid the black hairs of Daisy Mae’s mane and brush the dust from her brown shoulders. The mare brings peace to a country-born linebacker chasing greatness a little more than a month since the first weekend of July when White decided he must have her. The YouTube title read “Standardbred Racking Mare FOR SALE.” White said he watched the seven-minute video

BY BROOKS KUBENA | bkubena@theadvocate.com twice before immediately calling up the owner and purchasing Daisy Mae with what he’d saved from leftover scholarship money and bowl stipends. White finished his last exam of summer school on July 7, borrowed a teammate’s Chevy Silverado and drove 12 hours roundtrip to Hickory Valley, Tennessee, to retrieve Daisy Mae. “It was a long ride back,” White said. “But knowing I had her in the back of the truck, I really couldn’t complain.” When White checked his mare into Farr Park, the manager, Melissa Wood, said she didn’t know who he was. As he led Daisy Mae through the stable halls, the silence was only broken by the snuffs of other horses in their pens. White had become so popular in Baton Rouge that when he’d purchased a cell phone plan, the AT&T employee offered a phone number that used his No. 40 jersey twice. Inevitably, White’s anonymity at Farr Park didn’t last long either. Wood said that when she told some summer-camp kids who Daisy Mae’s owner was, they grew excited and “started reciting all his stats.” Some of the kids, Wood said, even messaged

White on Instagram, saying “I fed your horse!” Even now, White said he sometimes rides Daisy Mae bareback beyond the picket fences, along the bike lanes of Highway 327, where people will stop their cars and take pictures. White will grin, wearing the same Justin George Strait boots he’s had since high school. “This is like Cotton Valley right here — this little part,” White said. “When I turn on that road, it’s like ‘Up, I’m going to Springhill. I’m going to Cotton Valley.’ ” But it wasn’t seclusion White was after. No, White had always been too big for even one of Louisiana’s smallest cities to hide.

‘Everything changed’ The lumber trucks still chug through Main Street in Springhill, a mile away from the Arkansas state line, but they don’t stop in town anymore. Up until 1979, Springhill and the surrounding cities — Shongaloo, Sarepta and Cotton Valley — thrived economically from a paper mill under the International Paper Company.

ä See BELIEVE, page 9


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LSU: Cover story: Devin White

BELIEVE

same public fanfare of Crowe or Carr. That is, until a super-sized kid’s affinity for horses lured him into the game of football.

Continued from page 8

A trail ride to football “When the mill was running, everyone had new cars,” said Springhill resident Bruce Blanton, 60, who worked in the mill. “It was just a prosperous time.” Athletics also prospered. John David Crowe, winner of the 1957 Heisman Trophy at Texas A&M, graduated from Springhill High. In 1974, the Baltimore Colts drafted Cotton Valley High School graduate Roger Carr No. 24 overall, and he went on to play 10 seasons in the NFL. Then the paper mill closed. A few thousand jobs, Springhill mayor Carroll Breaux said, were eliminated. “It really suffered,” said Blanton, who was one of the workers who was laid off. “Those big-paying jobs were no more. We lost people who moved away.” That trend continues today. Cotton Valley’s population (980) has decreased 17.6 percent since 2000, and the town’s median household income ($25,995) is nearly half the median income of the state of Louisiana ($45,146). The area continued to produce athletes — like 1988 NFL Rookie of the Year John Stephens and Kansas City Chiefs running back Charcandrick West — but no one produced the

ADVOCATE FILE PHOTO BY HILARY SCHEINUK

White tackles Notre Dame’s Brandon Wimbush in January in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

MEMBERSHIP DUES $50.00 LUNCHEONS $35.00 Find Bengal Belles on Facebook. SDAY R U H T PT. 6 SE

COACH O KICKOFF LUNCH @ L’AUBERGE

SDAY, R U H T PT.20 SE

ACADEMIC CENTER FOR STUDENT ATHLETES

George “Junior” Shaw still laughs at his own tact. The 63-year-old raised horses on his family’s 160 acres, and, at times, he’d invite Cotton Valley residents to trail-ride parties, where they’d ride horses, eat barbecue and “just have a good time.” Shaw’s grandson, Xavious (nicknamed “X-man”), would bring along his classmate, Devin White, who had shot up to six feet tall by the sixth grade and already could dunk a basketball. White’s mother and father had both earned basketball scholarships, and he had his mind set on following their footsteps. But in the summer of 2009, Shaw was approached by a persistent little-league coach, Shaun Houston, who had seen White “put half his forearm” over the rim at a recent open gym and desperately wanted him to join his new football team. Houston asked Shaw to help persuade White. So when White asked Shaw about the next trail ride, Shaw recalled saying, “Well, me and X-man are going to the football game on Saturday. How would I be able to get you to the trail ride if you’re not at the football game?”

ä See BELIEVE, page 10

GORDY RUSH IS THE EMCEE AT ALL MEETINGS. THE BELLES WELCOME COACH O AND HIS 2018 TIGER TEAM!

LUNCHEONS:

DAY, S R U TH T. 11 OC Y, FRIDA. 2 NOV

PINK & TEAL LUNCHEON@ L’AUBERGE GEORGIA SENIOR DAY C/PARADE & GOLDEN BAND FROM TIGERLAND @ RAISING CANE’S RIVER CENTER ALABAMA


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LSU: Cover story: Devin White

BELIEVE

Continued from page 9 Over the next two years White dominated the little-league fields of northern Louisiana — scoring so many touchdowns as a running back, Shaw said, that they had to carry around his birth certificate to prove White was only 10 years old. The legend continued to grow. “We heard how good he was when he was in junior high,” said Blanton, who called high school football games on KTKC-FM, 92.9. “And by the time some get into high school, they’re not what everybody said they’re going to be. But he was twice as good as we’d heard, and he was good to begin with. He turned out to be better than anybody’d imagined.” White played varsity as a freshman at the newly consolidated North Webster High, which had just hired a new head football coach, John Ware, from North Caddo. Ware said White had “arms that were bigger than my legs” and that White ran the ball at least 70 times as a freshman running back, while also recording 110 tackles as the team’s starting linebacker. “I didn’t know what to do,” Ware said. “I never had a kid that talented, and I didn’t want him to miss out.” Ware said he called Steve Ensminger, who was LSU’s tight end coach at the time and recruited the area. “I told him, ‘Look, we’ve got this kid here,’ ” Ware recalled. “ ‘He’s phenomenal. Out of all my years in coaching, I’ve never had a (Division-I) player like this here.’ ” Ensminger, used to such calls, invited White to LSU’s football camp to see for himself. Houston took White to the camp, where he said White ran a 4.45-second 40-yard dash. Houston said they planned to leave the camp early to catch another at Alabama, but Ensminger asked them to stay a little longer and meet then-head coach Les Miles. “(Miles) offered him on the spot,” Houston said. Afterward, White walked with Houston around the Mall of Louisiana — a 14-year-old with a scholarship offer to LSU. Within 10 minutes, Houston said, White’s phone rang 15 times. Recruiting reporters were calling from Rivals, 247Sports, Scout, Bleacher Report. “After that,” Houston said, “everything changed.”

Small town, big time Over the next three seasons, TV trucks, college scout caravans and curious out-of-towners followed the lumber trucks down Main Street to see the phenom on Friday nights. The bleachers at Baucum-Farrar Stadium, which were hardly ever filled, were packed. Business at the neighboring Chick-A-Dilly boomed. Blanton said it was easy to sell radio advertisements for the games on KTKC, and everywhere he went “there were people talking about (the game) who had listened to it on the radio.” Blake Branch, a former sports editor at the Minden Press-Herald who is now on the North Webster coaching staff, said he always wanted to cover one of White’s games “because I wanted to see what he might do that night.” White played both running back and linebacker

White tends to his horse, Daisy Mae, on Friday at BREC’s Farr Park. at North Webster, and the stories of his high school games often sound like fiction. Blanton said White could tackle people by just sticking his arm out, “grab one of these little guys and throw ’em down.” More than once, he added, White would “just run slam over the opposition” instead of trying to avoid them while running the ball. One time, Branch said, a team tried to squib-kick a ball past White on special teams, and he jumped, snatched it with one hand and carried it down the sideline for a touchdown. In a 51-47 playoff win over Patterson in 2014, Ware said White rushed for 400 yards, received for 100 more and scored six touchdowns. At times, it was too much of a phenomenon for a small town to handle. When news leaked that Miles had visited Ware in his North Webster office, Ware said people would become mad at him because he didn’t tell them that the famous coach was there. “ ‘We would have stopped by!’ ” Ware recalled

ADVOCATE STAFF PHOTO BY HILARY SCHEINUK

them saying. Blanton said he was sometimes criticized for his radio broadcasts, with some people saying, “You know, Bruce, there are other people on the team besides Devin.” And all the hype and expectation were cast onto the shoulders of a teenager. “He looked like a grown man, but he had not fully matured,” Ware said. “Even myself, I was guilty of treating him like a grown man. You see all this ability, and you want him to do everything right, right now. He was still a kid.” Branch remembers White being “very aware and measured” during interviews, and Houston said White skipped playing outside with his friends to “talk like an adult” with Houston and his wife, Naomi. There was immense weight, Houston said, for White to rise from a lost and broken town. “I think God made him for that,” Houston said.

ä See BELIEVE, page 11


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SHREVEPORT TIMES FILE PHOTO BY DOUGLAS COLLIER

White starred at running back and linebacker at North Webster.

BELIEVE

Continued from page 10

‘Believe’ White said he still writes J.J.’s name on his cleats. Under the flashing caution light on Highway 371, past a hollowed and weed-infested church, rests the single-wide trailer where the stepbrothers once shared a room. J’Marco Jewel Greenard, 19, died on June 11, 2011, when the rear, driver’s side tire of a church van blew out on a return trip from Texas. Houston was driving the bus, and he said the van flipped five times and threw nearly everyone from the vehicle, including J.J. “He died on impact,� Houston said. White said he learned maturity from J.J. — his elder by six years, who accepted his new brother fully when his father, Willie Standokes, married White’s mother, Coesha, when White was 4 years old. J.J. taught White everything he knew, and White followed J.J. wherever he went. “I was just his shadow,� White said. White was at home with his mother when they got the call. Houston remembers pulling White aside after the funeral and saying, “I’ll make sure that you and all your younger sisters and brothers are always taken care of.� Houston became White’s

confidante, his recruiting trip companion, his surrogate father. Houston began sending White inspirational text messages, and even now, White will roll over in the early morning to the buzz of his cell phone. It’s an inspiration White said he wants to pay forward. Together, White and Houston are in the early stages of creating a nonprofit foundation that supports young athletes in financial need called “Believe.� For now, they’re selling custom Battle mouthpieces that have the word “Believe� printed on the front, with the profits going toward the foundation. Houston got his first box in mid-August, and White immediately texted, “Send me one now.� White and preseason All-American cornerback Greedy Williams both have one. When asked about the purpose of Believe, White said it was about rising from small beginnings. “Being in a small town,� White said, “a lot of people like to rely on hope.� From Stadium Drive, Baton Rouge up to Main Street, Springhill, others rely on hope, too. “Time marches on, and there’s probably somebody right now in junior high,� Blanton said. “Who knows? Another Devin White? Hopefully, there is.�

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LSU: 2018 Schedule analysis GAME 1: vs. MIAMI DATE: Sept. 2 | TIME: 6:30 p.m. | TV: ABC WHERE: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas THE GOOD NEWS: The Hurricanes started 10-0 under now third-year coach Mark Richt and won the ACC Coastal Division in 2017 but lost their final three by a combined 96-41 to Pittsburgh, Clemson (ACC championship) and Wisconsin (Orange Bowl). There is talent on offense, but offensive line is a major concern. THE BAD NEWS: If the new pieces of LSU’s offense need time to coalesce, the clock could strike midnight against the Hurricanes. Miami returns much of an opportunistic defense that tied for third nationally with 31 forced turnovers. The turnover chain will be a staple of the ’Canes sideline once again. STAR POWER: Even bigger things are expected from returning quarterback Malik Rosier. The same holds true for a Miami defense led by edge rusher Joe Jackson, linebacker Shaq Quarterman, cornerback Michael Jackson and safety Jaquan Johnson. THE ADVOCATE SAYS … Miami 23, LSU 16 (0-1)

GAME 2: SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA DATE: Sept. 8 | TIME: 6 p.m. | TV: ESPN2/ESPNU WHERE: Tiger Stadium THE GOOD NEWS: The Lions’ first visit to Tiger Stadium since 1949 comes at a transition time for SLU football. Frank Scelfo takes over his first collegiate head coaching job from Ron Roberts, who became defensive coordinator at UL-Lafayette. Scelfo was offensive coordinator at UTSA under former LSU assistant Frank Wilson. THE BAD NEWS: While the Lions have to break in a new quarterback, Scelfo coached five to the NFL, including Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles at Arizona. Julius Maracalin and Marcus Cooper are back to pace the potent rushing attack, which was third in the FCS in 2017 with 283.1 yards per game. STAR POWER: Maracalin was a second-team AllSLC pick two years ago with nearly 800 yards rushing. Cooper (646 yards, three touchdowns) was an All-SLC pick this past season. Wide Auburn receiver Juwan Petitquarterback Frere earned first-team Jarrett All-American honors in Stidham 2017 as a kick returner. THE ADVOCATE SAYS … LSU 46, SLU 13 (1-1)

GAME 3: at AUBURN DATE: Sept. 15 | TIME: 2:30 p.m. | TV: CBS WHERE: Jordan-Hare Stadium, Auburn, Alabama THE GOOD NEWS: Auburn has had a 1,000-yard rusher the past nine seasons but must identify another after SEC leading rusher Kerryon Johnson and Kamryn Pettway left for the NFL. Kam Martin, who averaged 6.1 yards per carry last season, likely will be the main back but works behind a retooled offensive line. THE BAD NEWS: Auburn won the SEC West and beat both CFP title game participants (Alabama and Georgia) in the regular season. Of two regular season losses, one was at Clemson and the other was to LSU, blowing a 20-0 lead in Tiger Stadium, likely a rallying cry for Auburn. LSU is 2-7 at Auburn since 2000. STAR POWER: Auburn returns one of the SEC’s top pitchand-catch combinations in junior quarterback Jarrett Stidham and wide receiver Ryan Davis. The latter set a school record with 84 receptions in 2017. Defensive tackle Derrick Brown is a projected top 10 draft pick. THE ADVOCATE SAYS … Auburn 27, LSU 20 (1-2, 0-1)

GAME 4: LOUISIANA TECH DATE: Sept. 22 | TIME: TBA | TV: TBA WHERE: Tiger Stadium THE GOOD NEWS: After back-to-back nine-win seasons, the Bulldogs took a step back in 2017, going 7-6. It could have easily been another nine-win campaign, though: Tech went 1-4 in games decided by a touchdown or less. LSU is 18-1 all-time against Tech, its only loss in Ruston way back in 1904. THE BAD NEWS: After years of a revolving door behind center, J’Mar Smith is the Bulldogs’ first returning starting quarterback since 2010. This may not be the most talented team Skip Holtz has had in Ruston, but it is experienced and skilled enough to contend in the Conference USA West Division. STAR POWER: Tech returns one of Smith’s favorite receiving targets in senior Teddy Veal, a first-team preseason C-USA selection. Offensive lineman O’Shea Dugas was also a first-team pick and was named to the Outland Trophy preseason watch list. Defensive end Jaylon Ferguson was tabbed for the Nagurski and Bednarik watch lists. THE ADVOCATE SAYS … LSU 31, Louisiana Tech 18 (2-2)

GAME 5: OLE MISS DATE: Sept. 29 | TIME: TBA | TV: TBA WHERE: Tiger Stadium THE GOOD NEWS: Beset by NCAA probation, Ole Miss is literally a program that is not going anywhere, serving a second straight bowl ban. The defense, 13th or worse in the SEC in points, total yards and rushing yards allowed, must vastly improve for the Rebels to equal or eclipse 2017’s 6-6 record. THE BAD NEWS: Because Ole Miss quarterback of probation, the NCAA Jordan Ta’amu allowed Ole Miss players to transfer without penalty. Quarterback Shea Patterson fled to Michigan and receiver Van Jefferson to Florida. But Ole Miss returns QB Jordan Ta’amu, a junior college transfer who completed 66.5 percent of his passes after Patterson was injured. STAR POWER: Despite the Rebels’ woes, their top-end talent is top notch. A.J. Brown led the SEC with 75 catches for 1,252 yards in 2017 and leads a stellar receiving corps that still has DK Metcalf and DaMarkus Lodge. Like Brown, left tackle Greg Little is a first-round pick if he leaves early. THE ADVOCATE SAYS … LSU 48, Ole Miss 17 (3-2, 1-1)

GAME 6: at FLORIDA DATE: Oct. 6 | TIME: TBA | TV: TBA WHERE: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, Florida THE GOOD NEWS: Florida turns to former offensive coordinator Dan Mullen, its third coach since Urban Meyer left eight years ago, with the Gators going a middling 52-36 since then. Rebuilding the offense is Mullen’s first task. Florida has finished eighth or worse in SEC scoring offense the past five seasons. THE BAD NEWS: While the offense needs to get untracked, the defense has a chance to be stellar. Mullen brought defensive coordinator Todd Grantham with him from Mississippi State, where his defense ranked first in the FBS in fewest first downs allowed per game (13.5). STAR POWER: The secondary, led by cornerback Marco Wilson and nickelback CJ Henderson, should be one of the SEC’s best. Left tackle Martez Ivey is a preseason All-SEC pick, but who will he block for? Feleipe Franks had a shaky 2017, but the one-time LSU commitment remains the favorite at quarterback. THE ADVOCATE SAYS … LSU 20, Florida 18 (4-2, 2-1)


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LSU: 2018 Schedule analysis GAME 7: GEORGIA DATE: Oct. 13 | TIME: TBA | TV: TBA WHERE: Tiger Stadium THE GOOD NEWS: Two things — the game is in Baton Rouge, and LSU will not play Georgia again until 2025. The Bulldogs will have to take everyone’s best shot coming off an SEC championship and a near miss in the CFP final against Alabama. Maybe Georgia will suffer a post-championship season hangover. THE BAD NEWS: The Bulldogs are on a roll. Yes, Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and Roquan Smith are gone, but quarterback Jake Fromm returns, as does receiver Terry Godwin, cornerback Deandre Baker and safety J.R. Reed, preseason All-SEC selections all. All of that is bolstered by the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class. STAR POWER: Then-freshman Fromm took over at quarterback from an injured Jacob Eason and never let go. Eason subsequently transferred to Washington but Fromm remains, working behind a bristling offensive line. D’Andre Swift now has a chance to shine as Georgia’s featured running back. THE ADVOCATE SAYS … Georgia 24, LSU 17 (4-3, 2-2)

GAME 8: MISSISSIPPI STATE DATE: Oct. 20 | TIME: TBA | TV: TBA WHERE: Tiger Stadium THE GOOD NEWS: After nine seasons under Dan Mullen, State is one of many SEC schools in transition mode with former Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead. Before Penn State he was head coach Georgia QB at his alma mater, Fordham, from Jake Fromm 2012-15, but this is a huge step up in weight class. THE BAD NEWS: LSU was 21-1 against State from 1992-2012, but the teams have split their past four meetings. Given the Bulldogs’ 37-7 shellacking of the Tigers in Starkville last year, State now appears to have the upper hand. Sixteen returning starters from a 9-4 team has the cowbells clanging in StarkVegas. STAR POWER: Longtime fans remember the hex State’s Wishbone quarterback John Bond had on LSU in the 1980s. Nick Fitzgerald is in that mold: a mediocre passer (55.6 completion percentage in 2017) but a dangerous runner. Jeffery Simmons can play defensive end or tackle and is one of the SEC’s best at any position. THE ADVOCATE SAYS … LSU 24, Miss. State 23 (5-3, 3-2)

GAME 9: ALABAMA DATE: Nov. 3 | TIME: TBA | TV: TBA WHERE: Tiger Stadium THE GOOD NEWS: There are some significant question marks for the Crimson Tide. The entire secondary, including starting nickel and dime backs, is gone. In fact, only three defensive starters return. And there is discord in Sabanland over the quarterback battle between Tua Tagovailoa, hero of the CFP title game, and Jalen Hurts. THE BAD NEWS: Alabama is still Alabama, Nick Saban is still the coach, and the Crimson Tide is still preseason No. 1. Despite the issues, which would derail most teams, there is still more than enough talent, and well-coached talent, to make Alabama the favorite in every game on the schedule. STAR POWER: Take your pick. Tailback Damien Harris is one of the SEC’s best, running behind the best O-line led by Jonah Williams and Ross Pierschbacher. Bama has probably the best linebacker corps with Anfernee Jennings and Mack Wilson. And 6-7 defensive end Raekwon Davis looks like some quarterback’s menacing nightmare. THE ADVOCATE SAYS … Alabama 19, LSU 12 (5-4, 3-3)

GAME 10: at ARKANSAS DATE: Nov. 10 | TIME: TBA | TV: TBA WHERE: Reynolds Razorback Stadium, Fayetteville, Ark. THE GOOD NEWS: Yet another SEC school breaking in a new coach. In Fayetteville it’s Chad Morris, a hot name as offensive coordinator at Clemson but unable to ignite SMU in three seasons (14-22). The switch from pro style to spread offense will have the Hogs taking their lumps in 2018. THE BAD NEWS: Arkansas has ranked last in the SEC in yards per play allowed the past three seasons. That should change under former LSU and Texas A&M defensive coordinator John Chavis, but it would be unfair to expect even the dean of SEC defensive gurus to work miracles. STAR POWER: There isn’t much. Hjalte Froholdt is by far the SEC’s best Danish offensive guard. Shreveport’s Santos Ramirez is a ball-hawking free safety. Former Teurlings Catholic standout Cole Kelley has a great chance to be the starting quarterback when the Tigers visit Fayetteville in November. THE ADVOCATE SAYS … LSU 30, Arkansas 21 (6-4, 4-3)

GAME 11: RICE DATE: Nov. 17 | TIME: TBA | TV: TBA WHERE: Tiger Stadium THE GOOD NEWS: After a rough midseason schedule and a finale at Texas A&M, LSU will need a scrimmage game. This is it. USA Today ranked Rice 124th of 130 FBS teams for 2018. The Owls welcome ex-Stanford assistant Mike Bloomgren as their new coach. Can he make Rice into C-USA’s Stanford? Patience. THE BAD NEWS: There isn’t much for LSU in this one. The Tigers should welcome a win over their old rival which they played all but two years from 1932-83, but only twice since then. The tragically bad news was for Rice in March, when junior defensive end Blain Padgett died unexpectedly. STAR POWER: Wide receiver Aaron Cephus is a legitimate deep threat. He tied for third nationally in 2017 with six catches of 50-plus yards. Sixth-year Graysen Schantz is (obviously) a veteran edge rusher. Bloomgren wants to bring Stanford-like physicality to Rice and returns his top three rushers led by Nahshon Ellerbe. THE ADVOCATE SAYS … LSU 50, Rice 8 (7-4)

GAME 12: at TEXAS A&M DATE: Nov. 24 | TIME: TBA | TV: TBA WHERE: Kyle Field, College Station, Texas THE GOOD NEWS: Home or away, LSU has handled the Aggies every year since they joined the SEC in 2012, plus a win in the 2011 Cotton Bowl. LSU has generally out-physicaled A&M’s defense, which still doesn’t figure to be top-tier SEC caliber in 2018. THE BAD NEWS: A&M is putting its money where its aspirations are when it comes to winning football. The school lured Jimbo Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher from Florida State Fisher for $75 million guaranteed over 10 years and went hard after LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda before luring Notre Dame’s Mike Elko to College Station. STAR POWER: Tailback Trayveon Williams limped through 2017 but has rushed for nearly 1,900 yards the past two seasons. A&M needs to figure out who its quarterback is between Nick Starkel and Kellen Mond, but both figure to benefit from Fisher’s coaching. Defensive end Landis Durham had 10.5 sacks as a junior. THE ADVOCATE SAYS … Texas A&M 25, LSU 20 (7-5, 4-4) Scott Rabalais


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SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE: The Advocate’s Scott Rabalais on the 2018 SEC race

Remember, a new team won the SEC in ’17? Alabama still has a strong grip, if not a stranglehold, on the nation’s best conference

ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO BY JOHN BAZEMORE

Georgia celebrates winning the SEC title in December in Atlanta. Alabama may have come up short of playing for (and probably winning) a fourth straight SEC championship in 2017, but the Crimson Tide extended an arguably even more impressive streak: Bama is the only team to reach the CFP semifinals in the first four years of the playoff’s existence. And the Tide has played in the past three CFP finals overall, winning two. If there is any year to derail Alabama’s championship express, this would seem to be the year. The Crimson Tide’s entire starting secondary, down to its nickel and dime backs, has departed. There is dissention in the quarterback ranks with Jalen Hurts rankled at how his battle with Tua Tagovailoa (hero of the win over Georgia) has been handled. And Saban is breaking in yet another new coordinator after Tennessee hired former defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt to be its head coach in the SEC’s latest chapter of the “If you can’t beat ’em, hire ’em” saga. This, of course, only came after an embarrassing search that cost John Currie his job as Tennessee athletic

director. But all these potential hurdles are expected to be mere speed bumps on the way to another title or two. Alabama is the preseason No. 1 and the Vegas favorite to win it all once again, although finishing the SEC schedule against LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn will not be easy. It is worth remembering that

the Roman and Ming dynasties probably both looked as strong and sturdy at one point as Alabama’s dynasty (although the Romans were notoriously poor in the secondary). And there are signs the invaders are beginning to find their way inside the castle walls. Georgia was oh so painfully close to its first national championship since Herschel Walker was a pup, but the Bulldogs did take home the national recruiting championship as a consolation prize. Kirby Smart, a longtime Saban assistant at LSU and Alabama, appears to be doing a better job than most at channeling his inner Nick. Pruitt’s hiring and Jimbo Fisher’s arrival at Texas A&M clutching a $75 million guaranteed contract brings to four the number of Saban disciples now working as head coaches

in the SEC along with South Carolina’s Will Muschamp. Saban taught his guys well, but apparently he tore the last page out of the World Domination Handbook. The CFP championship game win made Saban 12-0 against his former assistant coaches. There are a boatload of SEC programs that could theoretically chase down and overtake Alabama at some point. LSU, Auburn, Texas A&M, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee all have the money, tradition and are surrounded by the kinds of recruiting grounds it takes to be great year after year in this league, although Tennessee’s talent base traditionally has been a bit lacking. Right now, though, they’re all jockeying for second place. You have to start somewhere if you are going to challenge The Big Red One.

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It is often said of Big Ten football that the conference is really the Big Two and the Little Eight, a derisive reference to how much Michigan and Ohio State have dominated the league through the decades. One could even more derisively point to the fact the Big Ten now has 14 teams, but we digress. It’s all good fun to have a chuckle at the expense of those Midwestern (and now East Coast folks thanks to the addition of Maryland and Rutgers), sticking a pin in their collective grandiosity. Of course, it doesn’t take a degree in rhetoric and public culture (a real major) from Northwestern to think if Alabama keeps dominating the Southeastern Conference folks are going TIME to start calling OUT the league The SCOTT Big Red One and RABALAIS the Other 13. It must be duly noted that Auburn beat Alabama last season to win the SEC West and Georgia beat Auburn in the SEC championship game. But then Alabama brushed off a 13-0 halftime deficit to the Bulldogs in the CFP national championship game and rallied for spine-tingling 26-23 overtime victory. You do remember that Georgia won the SEC title, don’t you? It seems a dim candle in the shadow of yet another Alabama national championship, the Crimson Tide’s fifth under Nick Saban since 2009.

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SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE: Season preview

AP FILE PHOTO

DeVonta Smith, from Amite High, catches a 41-yard touchdown pass in overtime to lift Alabama past Georgia 26-23 for the CFP national title in Atlanta in January.

THE ADVOCATE’S PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH WEST DIVISION

EAST DIVISION

1. ALABAMA: The Crimson Tide has won at least seven SEC games in seven consecutive seasons. There’s no reason (is there?) to believe the streak will be snapped this year. 2. AUBURN: A rousing win over Alabama catapulted Auburn into the SEC title game last year, but the Tigers couldn’t capitalize. Will they get another shot after losing 13 starters? 3. MISSISSIPPI STATE: First-year coach Joe Moorhead didn’t exactly find a program in shambles when he took the reins, as Dan Mullen left him with 17 returning starters. 4. LSU: The defense will be fine, as usual, but the question going into the season is the offense. Can Steve Ensminger make a difference with his new spread scheme and a new QB? 5. TEXAS A&M: Can Jimbo Fisher, the new sheriff in town, make the Aggies relevant in the SEC? They’re just 25-23 in conference play with one winning season since 2012. 6. OLE MISS: The Rebels found a gem in quarterback Jordan Ta’amu after Shea Patterson went down last season, but there aren’t enough weapons to strike fear in most foes. 7. ARKANSAS: It would be easier for first-year coach Chad Morris to unleash his new offense if he had a polished quarterback. Unfortunately, that’s not his only problem.

1. GEORGIA: Running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel are gone along with some key players on defense, namely Roquan Smith, but Jake Fromm is back to run the show. 2. SOUTH CAROLINA: Will Muschamp has the Gamecocks on the rise after a 9-4 season that was capped by an Outback Bowl win. Have they improved enough to upend Georgia? 3. FLORIDA: The Jim McElwain experiment ended with a thud last October, so the Gators turned to another offensive-minded coach in Dan Mullen to finally get the job done. 4. MISSOURI: The Tigers won six of their last seven games last season and bring back Heisman Trophy candidate Drew Lock to run the offense. But do they have the defense? 5. KENTUCKY: Mark Stoops has produced back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in a decade and has 17 starters back to see if they can make it three in a row. 6. TENNESSEE: Picked to finish in the upper half of the division a year ago, the Vols were 0-8 in the league. Can Jeremy Pruitt pick up the pieces of that shattered program? 7. VANDERBILT: Since going 9-4 in 2012 and ’13 under former coach James Franklin, Derek Mason has 18 wins in four losing seasons. This is likely his final chance.

FOUR KEY GAMES

NOW TRENDING

GEORGIA LSU AT S. CAROLINA AT FLORIDA

AUBURN AT GEORGIA

AUBURN AT ALABAMA

SEPT. 8: In a juicy early-season matchup, we’ll see if South Carolina continues its move up the SEC East ranks against the team that nearly won the national title last January.

NOV. 10: The good thing about this longtime rivalry is it’s likely the loser won’t be totally out of the CFP title-game picture. Georgia certainly proved that last season.

NOV. 24: Auburn has won two of the past five Iron Bowls, including a satisfying crunching last year. But its joy was short-lived as Bama still claimed the national title.

OCT. 6: Their past two meetings have been defensive tussles, with each team winning on the other’s turf. A road win could give LSU confidence going into a rough month.

TRENDING UP: SOUTH CAROLINA

After being fired at Florida, Will Muschamp has started the rebuild at South Carolina with back-to-back bowl appearances. Last season, the Gamecocks went 9-4 with an Outback Bowl win and more is expected this year.

TRENDING DOWN: LSU

The Tigers have won at least eight games for 18 consecutive seasons, but can they do it again? Largely because of a lack of experience on offense and a brutal schedule, most of the experts have LSU winning just six or seven games. So the challenge is there.

ON THE HOT SEAT: MISSOURI COACH BARRY ODOM

Since winning back-to-back SEC East titles in 2013-14, Missouri had two losing seasons then dropped five of its first six last year. Odom got it turned around behind Heisman Trophy candidate/quarterback Drew Lock, who is back. But that’s only ramped up expectations for Odom going into his third season.

Sheldon Mickles

For a schedule grid of Southeastern Conference teams, go to Page 53.


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THE NATIONAL PICTURE: Bowl schedule, rules changes, Coaches poll, upcoming CFP dates and sites RULES CHANGES

ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., will host the CFP title game on Jan. 7.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF: Semifinals, championship Date Bowl Dec. 29 Cotton Dec. 29 Orange Jan. 7 National title

Site TV Arlington, Texas 3 or 7 p.m. Miami Gardens, Fla. 3 or 7 p.m. Santa Clara, Calif. 7 p.m.

Time ESPN ESPN ESPN

Affiliations Semifinalists Semifinalists Semifinal winners

Selection committee bowl games Jan. 1 Sugar New Orleans 7:45 p.m. Jan. 1 Fiesta Glendale, Ariz. Noon Jan. 1 Rose Pasadena, Calif. 4 p.m. Dec. 29 Peach Atlanta 11 a.m.

ESPN ESPN ESPN ESPN

Big 12 vs. SEC At-large vs. at-large Big Ten vs. Pac-12 At-large vs. at-large

Other FBS bowl games Jan. 1 Citrus Orlando, Fla. Jan. 1 Outback Tampa, Fla. Dec. 31 Sun El Paso, Texas Dec. 31 Gator Jacksonville, Fla. Dec. 31 Holiday San Diego Dec. 31 Liberty Memphis Dec. 31 San Fran Santa Clara, Calif. Dec. 31 Military Annapolis, Md. Dec. 29 Belk Charlotte, N.C. Dec. 28 Alamo San Antonio Dec. 28 Arizona Tucson, Ariz. Dec. 28 Camping World Orlando, Fla. Dec. 28 Music City Nashville, Tenn. Dec. 27 Texas Houston Dec. 27 Pinstripe New York Dec. 27 Independence Shreveport Dec. 26 Cactus Phoenix Dec. 26 Quick Lane Detroit Dec. 26 First Responder Dallas Dec. 22 Hawaii Honolulu Dec. 22 Dollar General Mobile, Ala. Dec. 22 Armed Forces Fort Worth, Texas Dec. 22 Birmingham Birmingham, Ala. Dec. 21 Idaho Potato Boise, Idaho Dec. 21 Bahamas Nassau, Bahamas Dec. 20 Gasparilla St. Petersburg, Fla. Dec. 19 Frisco Frisco, Texas Dec. 18 Boca Raton Boca Raton, Fla. Dec. 15 New Orleans New Orleans Dec. 15 Camellia Montgomery, Ala. Dec. 15 Las Vegas Las Vegas Dec. 15 Cure Orlando, Fla. Dec. 15 New Mexico Albuquerque, N.M.

ABC ESPN2 CBS ESPN FS1 ESPN FOX ESPN ABC ESPN CBSSN ESPN ESPN ESPN ESPN ESPN ESPN ESPN ESPN ESPN ESPN ESPN ESPN ESPN ESPN ESPN ESPN ESPN ESPN ESPN ABC CBSSN ESPN

SEC vs. Big Ten SEC vs. Big Ten Pac-12 vs. ACC/Notre Dame SEC vs. Big Ten/ACC/Notre Dame Big Ten vs. Pac-12 SEC vs. Big 12 Big Ten vs. Pac-12 SEC vs. ACC/Notre Dame AAC vs. ACC/Notre Dame Big 12 vs. Pac-12 MWC vs. Sun Belt Big 12 vs. ACC/Notre Dame SEC vs. Big Ten/ACC/Notre Dame Big 12 vs. SEC Big Ten vs. ACC/Notre Dame SEC vs. ACC/Notre Dame Big 12 vs. Pac-12 Big Ten vs. ACC/Notre Dame Big 12 vs. C-USA MWC vs. C-USA MAC vs. Sun Belt Big 12 vs. AAC SEC vs. AAC MWC vs. MAC MAC vs. C-USA C-USA vs. AAC AAC vs. at-large AAC vs. C-USA Sun Belt vs. C-USA MAC vs. Sun Belt Pac-12 vs. MWC AAC vs. Sun Belt Pac-12 vs. MWC

Noon 11 a.m. 1 p.m. 6:30 p.m. 6 p.m. 2:45 p.m. 2 p.m. 11 a.m. 11:30 a.m. 8 p.m. 4:30 p.m. 4:15 p.m. 12:30 p.m. 8 p.m. 4:15 p.m. 12:30 p.m. 8 p.m. 4:15 p.m. 12:30 p.m. 9:30 p.m. 6 p.m. 2:30 p.m. 11 a.m. 3 p.m. 11:30 a.m. 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 6 p.m. 8 p.m. 4:30 p.m. 2:30 p.m. 1:30 p.m. 1 p.m.

n Blocking below the waist for players outside the tackle box must only be from the front and can not occur more than 5 yards down field in any case. n Limiting teams to 20 coaches and staff on headsets during a game (maximum 15 coaches and staff plus the head coach and four players). n After touchdowns and kickoffs, play clock will be set to 40 seconds to expedite play. n Teams no longer are required to attempt extra points after the game time expires, but will have the option to kick if they lead by one or two points. n Roughing the kicker penalties (personal foul or unsportsmanlike conduct) may now carry over to the subsequent kickoff. n Knee pads and pants must completely cover the knee. n If instant replay results in a play being overturned with less than one minute remaining in each half, a 10-second runoff will take place at the point the play in question took place. Teams may use a timeout to avoid the runoff.

IN THE RANKINGS Coaches poll The Amway Board of Coaches preseason poll, with team, first-place votes in parentheses, 2017 record and 2017 final ranking. Team 2017 record Pts Pvs 1. Alabama (61) 13-1 1621 1 2. Clemson (3) 12-2 1547 4 3. Ohio State (1) 12-2 1458 5 4. Georgia 13-2 1452 2 5. Oklahoma 12-2 1288 3 6. Washington 10-3 1245 15 7. Wisconsin 13-1 1243 6 8. Miami (Fla.) 10-3 1091 13 9. Penn State 11-2 1050 8 10. Auburn 10-4 1004 12 11. Notre Dame 10-3 892 11 12. Michigan State 10-3 870 16 13. Stanford 9-5 768 19 14. Michigan 8-5 752 NR 15. S. California 11-3 691 10 16. TCU 11-3 530 9 17. Virginia Tech 9-4 524 25 18. Mississippi State 9-4 407 20 19. Florida State 7-6 328 NR 20. West Virginia 7-6 310 NR 21. Texas 7-6 265 NR 22. Boise State 11-3 261 22 23. Central Florida 13-0 259 7 24. LSU 9-4 254 18 25. Oklahoma State 10-3 168 14 Others receiving votes: South Carolina 138; Florida 135; Oregon 105; Utah 81; Northwestern 67; Texas A&M 67; Kansas State 35; Florida Atlantic 27; Boston College 23; Memphis 23; North Carolina State 22; Arkansas State 19; Troy 19; Appalachian State 16; San Diego State 15; Iowa 8; Iowa State 8; Kentucky 8; Washington State 7; South Florida 6; Duke 5; Fresno State 4; Louisville 3; Arizona 2; Houston 2; Army 1; Northern Illinois 1.

UPCOMING CFP DATES, SITES 2018-19 SEASON Semifinals, Dec. 29 Cotton Bowl, Arlington, Texas Orange Bowl, Miami Championship game, Jan. 7 Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif. 2019-20 SEASON Semifinals, Dec. 28 Peach Bowl, Atlanta Fiesta Bowl, Glendale, Ariz. Championship game, Jan. 13 Mercedes-Benz Superdome 2020-21 SEASON Semifinals, Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl, Mercedes-Benz Superdome Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif. Championship game, Jan. 11 Hard Rock Stadium, Miami

2021-22 SEASON Semifinals, Dec. 31 Cotton Bowl, Arlington, Texas Orange Bowl, Miami Championship game, Jan. 10 Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis 2022-23 SEASON Semifinals, Dec. 31 Peach Bowl, Atlanta Fiesta Bowl, Glendale, Ariz. Championship game, Jan. 9 Los Angeles Stadium, Inglewood, Calif. 2023-24 SEASON Semifinals, Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl, Mercedes-Benz Superdome Rose Bowl, Pasadena, Calif. Championship game, Jan. 8 NRG Stadium, Houston


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THE NATIONAL PICTURE: The Advocate’s Scott Rabalais on the state of college football

Fans still love game, but consumption changing The prize that goes to the winner of the Ole Miss-Mississippi State series is like the ink blot test of college football trophies. The game is called the Egg Bowl. The crown of the trophy is shaped like an egg. A golden egg. But it could also be a football. A golden football. For virtually the entire existence of college athletics, college football has been the goose that laid the golden egg, churning out riches in conveyor beltlike fashion year upon year. It’s like Willie Wonka’s room full of golden egg-laying geese. TIME Right now, though, OUT the golden goose is SCOTT looking a bit careworn. RABALAIS Attendance nationwide is down, rather alarmingly. The 2017 average attendance per Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) game was 42,203, which according to CBSSports.com is the game’s lowest average since 1997. Overall, FBS attendance is down roughly 10 percent from its average

all-time high of 46,971 in 2008. That makes sense, you say. Folks are staying parked in front of their television sets instead of fighting the traffic and the heat (or cold) and long lines for outrageously priced concession stand fare to carry back to their outrageously priced seats. Only, those TV numbers are down, too. Sports Business Daily reported college football viewership on CBS, ESPN, ABC and NBC was down anywhere from 3-18 percent in 2017 compared to 2016. The significant outliers were Fox and its sports network FS1, which were up 23 and 4 percent from 2016 to 2017 after having picked up Big Ten games for the first time. When I was a lad, just becoming aware of the sports world around me in the late 1970s, college football viewing options were exceptionally limited. Back then, ABC was pretty much the only network televising the sport other than bowl games (do the Hughes Network or Mizlou ring any bells?). Schools like LSU were on television only once or twice per season. It was not until 1983, with the advent of LSU’s

cutting-edge, in-house, pay-per-view network TigerVision, that LSU’s entire season worth of games were all televised in some form. Labor Day weekend is the unofficial start of the college football season, which erupts with a wall-to-wall telethon the likes of which the late Jerry Lewis could not have imagined. From Thursday, Aug. 30 through Monday, Sept. 3, there will be 76 games available either over the air, on cable/satellite or live streaming. There will be north of a thousand more shown before the season ends Jan. 7 with the CFP national championship game. Has college football reached a saturation, or rather, oversaturation point? “I don’t think that meant less interest in college football,” Sports Business Daily’s Austin Karp told SI.com. “I’d say the interest was higher this year compared to some prior years. If you looked at the total minutes viewed for college football, it had to be some sort of record.” In CBS’ case, Karp attributed the decline in SEC viewership to a lack of compelling matchups week in and week out.

“The SEC was just too top heavy this (past) season,” he said. That comes back to the matter of attendance, a problem for other sports as well, not just college football. Schools are going to have to become much more inventive at drawing and keeping fans in the vast coliseums they have created. Better internet, better restrooms, better (and perhaps cheaper) concessions and wider seats. That, I predict, will be the next major move in stadium construction. At 102,321 seats, Tiger Stadium has rarely if ever been truly filled since the most recent expansion in 2014. This is the biggest Tiger Stadium is ever likely to get. Tiger Stadium’s seating capacity is likely to contract at some point in the future as LSU tries to use more comfortable seats as a carrot for fans. College football isn’t dying. The golden eggs are still 24 karat. But the game is in a transition time when it comes to viewership and attendance. Interest appears to be at an all-time high. But where everyone is going remains a closely watched narrative.

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SOUTHERN: Season preview

TEAM CONCEPT Whoever emerges as Southern’s leading QB will have plenty of help

ADVOCATE FILE PHOTO BY TRAVIS SPRADLING

Southern’s Dawson Odums: ‘I think the quarterback can be relaxed and comfortable now, because it’s not all on their shoulders.’ BY MIKE GEGENHEIMER Special to The Advocate

John Lampley is the runner of the Southern quarterbacks. Bubba McDaniel is the passer. Ladarius Skelton is the wildcard transfer thrown into the final group of three potential starters when the Jaguars open the season against TCU. The word missing from those descriptors? Experienced. No matter who earns the start-

ing nod on Sept. 1, he will be leading a college program for the first time. All three are sophomores. Lampley received the most playing time last season, accounting for 26 career attempts in seven games from the pocket. In four outings, McDaniel has 34 career attempts, three of which were interceptions, and Skelton has yet to play a down at a four-year institution. As Southern opened presea-

son camp, coach Dawson Odums signaled a possible quarterback competition is likely to drift into the first few games of the year before the Jaguars nail down a full-time replacement for Austin Howard. So regardless of whoever gets the job, Southern better have a Plan B. “I think the quarterback can be relaxed and comfortable now, because it’s not all on their shoulders,” Odums said.

“You can spread the ball around, you can take check downs, you have other guys around you to make plays. We’re looking for the quarterback to make the routine play.” Southern’s situation on offense is a mixed reality. The quarterback, unquestionably the most high-profile position on the field, is anyone’s guess, both for whom it will be and how he’ll play. The rest of the self-titled “Blue Machine” is as deep and talented as it’s ever been. Southern lost five starters on offense from 2017: Howard, tight end Dillon Beard, running back Herb Edwards and offensive linemen Christian Rodriguez and Styler Prol. Dennis Craig is already assuming Beard’s role, Edwards leaves behind a battalion of up to six potential apparent heirs, and the offensive line is 17 deep with four of its five starters weighing in at more than 300 pounds, potentially the biggest offensive line coordinator Chennis Berry has seen in his seven-year tenure. That doesn’t include the Jaguars returning six of their top eight receivers, including sixthyear senior Randall Menard, who is back on the field after a broken leg ended his 2017 season. Minnesota transfer Hunter Register also adds significant length to the corps with his 6-foot-5 frame. “There’s enough talents at those other positions that we just tell our quarterbacks to just manage,” Berry said. “With having a lot of experience at other positions and explosive players at those skill positions, it gives our quarterback time to install all we want him to do is manage it, take care of the football, don’t turn it over and put the ball in the playmakers’ hands.” Odums said at the beginning of spring practice Southern would include more run-pass options into its scheme this year.

ä See SOUTHERN, page 28


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SOUTHERN ROSTER # Name Pos. 2 Timothy Thompson DB 3 Elijah Small DB 4 Stacy Piro WR 5 Montavius Gaines DB 6 Jamar Washington WR 7 Kobie Lane QB 7 Andrew Sceau CB 8 Ladarius Skelton QB 9 Devon Benn RB 10 Kendall Catalon WR 11 John Lampley QB 12 Glendon McDaniel QB 12 Torriando Sims II DB 13 Arvin Huff ROV 14 Demerio Houston DB 15 Darbbeon Profit RB 16 Kaycee Ntukogu SAM 16 LaQaaron Mingo WR 17 Andre Augustine DB 18 Benjamin Harris ROV 18 DJ White QB 19 Elijah Allen DB 20 Jamarqueza Mims RB 20 Davonte White DB 21 Trey Smith WR 22 Glen Brown DB 23 Hunter Register WR 24 Carlos Stephens RB 25 Cameron Mackey WR 26 Gary Young WR 27 Shontega Thomas RB 28 Christopher Chaney WR 28 Adrian Rivers S 29 Robert Rheim DB 29 Hasting Jefferson WR 30 Cesar Barajas K 30 Damien Crawford DB 31 Jakobi Jones S 32 Maliek Stephens RB 33 Jakoby Pappillion CB 34 Keyshawn Akers SAM 35 Reggie Wilson TE 36 Martel Fontenot K 37 Kordell Caldwell S 37 Alexander Rodriguez RB 38 Brad Porter DE 39 Tercel Guillory WR 40 Jordan Williams LB 41 Simeon Houston DL 42 Caleb Carter LB 43 Chase Foster DB 44 Alfred Palomino LB 45 Austin Opara TE 45 Jordan Bennett LB 46 Darrell Hardnett SAM 47 Joe Davis DE 48 Taylor Merritt P/K 48 Darrell Lewis LB 49 Terrence Gray DL 50 Kyle McGregor LB 51 Jordan Lewis LB 52 Calvin Lunkins LB 53 Jalen Ivy DL 54 Jaron Johnson DL 55 Jacoby Allen LB 56 Desnic Snow II DE 57 Landon Auzenne LB 58 Jaylon Brinson C 58 Kennen Tate LB 59 Caleb Scott LB 60 Bernard Childs OL 61 Beau Badon LS 62 Dallas Black OL 63 Christopher Nash C 64 Jeremiah Abby OL 65 Johnathan Bishop OL 66 Mason Sims OL 67 August Walker OL 68 David Odendahl OL 69 Elijah Jordan OL 70 Kennedy Madison OL 71 Maurice Campbell OL 72 Jahmal Tillman DE 73 Sean Beauchamp LS 74 Garrick Breaux OL 74 Blake Williams DL 75 Brian Williams OL 76 Daquan Dantley OL 77 Jodeci Harris OL 78 Ja’Tyre Carter OL 79 Jamil Abdul-aziz DL 80 Norman Price WR 81 Christian Branch WR 82 Dennis Craig TE 83 Jamel Byrd WR 84 Kobe Hartman WR 86 Daelon Richardson WR 87 Randall Menard WR 88 Jeremias Houston TE 89 Tyler Brown WR 90 Dylan Walker DL 91 Dakavion Champion DT 92 Christopher Thomas DL 93 Ceajae Bryant DL 94 Colyn Givens DL 95 Tyran Nash DE 96 Chris Jones DT 97 Robert Square III DL 98 Chad Brown DL 99 Hunter Clay DT

Ht. 5-10 5-8 5-11 6-2 5-7 6-0 6-1 6-2 5-8 5-9 6-2 6-2 5-8 6-1 5-11 5-10 5-11 5-8 6-3 5-11 6-4 6-1 5-9 6-0 6-2 5-10 6-5 5-7 5-9 5-9 5-10 5-9 5-8 5-11 6-1 6-1 6-4 5-11 5-9 5-10 6-0 6-3 5-10 5-10 5-10 6-2 5-9 5-11 6-2 6-1 5-7 6-0 6-2 6-2 5-10 6-4 6-1 5-11 6-3 6-0 6-3 6-0 6-4 6-3 6-0 6-1 6-0 6-0 5-8 5-9 6-3 5-10 6-1 6-1 6-4 6-2 6-4 6-2 6-2 6-2 6-3 6-7 6-2 5-7 6-3 6-1 6-4 6-4 6-7 6-5 6-2 6-2 6-2 6-2 6-2 6-3 6-4 6-3 6-6 6-2 6-3 6-1 6-2 6-0 6-3 6-2 6-2 6-3 6-2 5-11

Wt. 180 179 170 180 165 205 180 210 180 180 194 200 165 191 155 200 185 155 195 209 230 175 205 176 175 175 215 190 185 180 170 160 155 180 200 225 280 185 190 180 195 225 155 185 225 250 170 245 241 220 167 230 245 198 185 235 196 240 245 230 195 243 245 235 215 235 210 294 210 190 325 168 260 290 310 290 341 312 290 275 320 330 240 180 228 293 315 283 315 275 315 195 185 215 182 200 184 185 254 183 230 285 225 262 254 240 265 240 280 280

Cl. Hometown (previous school) Sr. Jackson (E. Feliciana) Jr. Charlotte, N.C. (Independence) Jr. Houston (Furr) Jr. Pembroke, Ga. (T.L. Hanna) So. Alexandria (Peabody) Jr. Stockbridge, Ga. (Woodland) Fr. New Orleans (St. Augustine) So. Pine Bluff, Ark. (Fullerton CC) So. New Orleans (John Curtis) So. Mansfield (Texas) High So. Kennesaw, Ga. (Kell) So. Dothan (Ala.) High Fr. Baton Rouge (Scotlandville) Sr. New Orleans (John Curtis) Sr. Shelby (N.C.) High So. Baton Rouge (Southern Lab) So. New Orleans (Karr) R-Fr. Marksville (Marksville High) Sr. Monroe (Carroll) Jr. Peoria (Ill.) High R-Fr. Baton Rouge (University) Sr. Denton (Ryan) Jr. Shreveport (Evangel Christian Aca.) Fr. Baton Rouge (Southern Lab) Sr. Lawrenceville, Ga. (Miles) Fr. LaPlace (St. James) So. Lafayette (Minnesota) So. Alabaster, Ala. (UAB) So. Ocala, Fla. (North Marion) Fr. New Orleans (Carver) R-Fr. Lanette, Ala. (Springwood) So. Jackson (East Feliciana) Fr. Daytona Beach, Fla. (Mainland) Fr. Ocala, Fla. (Trinity Catholic) R-Fr. Houston (Bellaire) So. Arcadia, Fla. (Desoto) Fr. Shreveport (Green Oaks) So. Kenner (Archbisop Rummel) Jr. Ocala, Fla. (North Marion) So. Lake Charles (Barbe) R-Fr. Marrero (John Ehret) Fr. San Antonio (Ronald Reagan) Fr. Zachary (Zachary) So. Houston (Pearland) Sr. Indianapolis (Indiana) Jr. Amite (Amite) So. Opelousas (Northwest) Jr. Lafayette (Northside) Sr. Houston (Westbury) So. Scotlandville (Scotlandville) So. Baton Rouge (Southern Lab) Sr. Covington, Ga. (Newton) Sr. Sprint, Texas (Westfield) So. Atlanta (Charles Drew) R-Fr. Geismar (Dutchtown) Jr. New Orleans (Clark) Jr. Arcadia (Arcadia) JR. Shreveport (Arkansas Baptist) Fr. Houma (Ellender) So. Atlanta (Milton) Fr. Ocala, Fla. (Trinity Catholic) Sr. New Orleans (Warren Easton) So. Tioga (Tioga) So. Port Arthur (Memorial) So. Houston (Northshore) R-Fr. Natchitoches (Central) So. Geismar (Nicholls State) Jr. Tallahassee, Fla. (Godby) R-Fr. Zachary (Zachary) Fr. Dallas (Cedar Hills) Fr. Houston (Channelview) Fr. Lafayette (Lafayette Christian Aca.) R-Fr. New Orleans (McMain) R-Fr. Alexandria (Peabody) JR. Atlanta (Carver) So. Birmingham, Ala. (Ramsey) Jr. Atlanta (Benjamin May) R-Fr. New Orleans (St. Augustine) R-Fr. Jackson (E. Feliciana) R-Fr. Beaumont, Texas (Westbrook) R-Fr. Monroe (Louisiana Tech) R-Fr. Atlanta (Cedar Grove) Jr. Harvey (Helen Cox) Fr. Baton Rouge (Broadmoor) Fr. Breaux Bridge (Breaux Bridge) Fr. Baton Rouge (McKinley) R-Fr. Atlanta (Riverdale) Fr. Lake Charles (Washington Marion) Jr. Plaquemine (Plaquemine) R-Fr. White Castle (White Castle) So. Baton Rouge (Broadmoor) R-Fr. Atlanta (Benjamin May) So. Atlanta (Kennesaw State) Sr. Baton Rouge (Glen Oaks) Fr. Luling (Hahnville) Fr. Houma (Ellender) So. Baton Rouge (BRCC) Sr. Breaux Bridge (Breaux Bridge) Jr. Shreveport (Evangel Christian Aca.) So. Donaldsonville (Donaldsonville) R-Fr. New Orleans (Donaldsonville) Jr. Spring, Texas (Dekaney) Fr. Pataskla, Ohio (Lickering Height) Jr. Spring, Texas (Westfield) Fr. Shreveport (Captain Shreve) So. New Orleans (Warren Easton) Jr. Franklin (Franklin) Fr. Baton Rouge (Catholic) Fr. Baton Rouge (Southern Lab) So. Lafayette (St. Thomas More)

SOUTHERN SEASON PREVIEW n THE LEADER

With no established leader returning, the Jaguars likely turn to sixth-year senior Randall Menard. Plagued by injuries throughout his career, Menard never has lived up to his potential. But as the last remaining member of the 2013 SWAC championship team, his voice could prove important.

n BREAKOUT PLAYER

Demerio Houston came a long way from getting chewed out by Danny Johnson on the field at Louisiana Tech in Houston’s first collegiate game in 2015. The cornerback assumes Johnson’s role in the secondary and at punt returner and could be the new face of the defense if he lives up to the expectations put on him this year.

n ISSUES

It seems like every year Southern has to replace another group of superstars. But this year is different in that no established leaders return from last season. Can the Jaguars find a new batch of playmakers? And are they good enough to beat Grambling for the first time since 2014?

n SCHEDULE

DATE OPPONENT TIME 9.1 at TCU 11 a.m./Fox 9.8 at Louisiana Tech 6 p.m. 9.15 Langston 6 p.m. 9.22 vs. Alabama A&M*^ 4 p.m. 9.29 Alcorn State* 6 p.m. 10.13 at Prairie View* 5 p.m. 10.20 vs. Texas Southern*# 2 p.m. 10.27 Jackson State* 6 p.m. 11.10 Ark.-Pine Bluff* 4 p.m. 11.24 vs. Grambling*@ 4 p.m./NBCS *­­—SWAC games ^—Mobile, Ala. #—Dallas

@—New Orleans

n OUTLOOK

For all the questions circling Southern going into the season, the Jaguars are in a good place to remain near the top of the SWAC. Odums is a consistent winner, and it’s not like the rest of the SWAC’s teams don’t have their share of issues. This conference race has the potential to be as wide open as any in recent memory.

n PREDICTION: 7-3 Mike Gegenheimer

Southern wide receiver Randall Menard


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SOUTHERN: Randall Menard profile

It’s about time: Menard back for sixth year BY MIKE GEGENHEIMER Special to The Advocate

In some ways, five years has been a lifetime for Randall Menard. Since arriving at Southern in 2013, the wide receiver has won a championship, has lost a championship, has seen records fall, made spectacular one-handed catches, suffered two season-ending injuries and alternately been promised a career of unlimited potential and told he might have played his final game, only to be given another chance. After a strong freshman season of 19 catches for 366 yards and four scores, each year was supposed to be a breakout campaign that never came, almost always because of a new, unexpected injury. Five years of watching players who came to Southern with him pack up and leave him behind on the Bluff while he continued to chase that yet-unfulfilled future. Five years of friends getting replaced by younger talents who call him “uncle” or “coach” to mildly prod him about his age. In other ways, 2013 was only yesterday. Menard still remembers what it was like to step on the field at Reliant Stadium in Houston, the roar of the fans as Southern and Jackson State played for the Southwestern Athletic Conference title, and the thrill of seeing their hard work pay off. He can visualize the pair of footballs he caught late in the fourth quarter to convert consecutive third downs and set up the score that proved necessary to eventually send the game to double overtime. He can see JSU’s Clayton Moore step out of bounds — ­ instead of in the end zone — on the final play and the chaos of celebration that followed. Menard wants to go out the way he came in: a champion. “I was put here and granted a sixth year for a reason,” Menard said. “We don’t know the exact reason yet, but we’ll find out. “In 2013, I came in the same time as (wide receivers coach Chris) Coleman, and me and him were so close that I was mad when he left. I broke down

ADVOCATE FILE PHOTO

Randall Menard

in tears. We built a relationship. And now for him to come back and me to get my sixth year, God is up to something.” Coach Dawson Odums preaches the idea of a championship mindset, but Southern has limited experience turning that mindset into tangible hardware. Besides Odums, Menard, offensive coordinator Chennis Berry and Coleman — who left Southern for three years before returning this spring — few in the program know what it means to win a title. Menard is the final piece of the roster remaining from Southern’s 2013 championship team. And of the 2014 team that reached the championship game but lost to Alcorn State, tight end Dennis Craig (then a redshirt) is the only other current player remaining.

The past three years, the Western Division was decided by Bayou Classic losses to Grambling. “It’s a bad taste in our mouth,” Craig said. “We’re trying to get rid of that taste. We don’t like to lose. We want to taste victory. We just have to finish when we get to the Bayou Classic.” Menard, who broke his leg against Alcorn in Week 4 last year but was granted a sixth season by the NCAA, was Southern’s biggest acquisition of the offseason. Not because the Jaguars needed the 6-foot-3 receiver with 81 career catches for 1,350 yards and 13 touchdowns in 35 games played for his on-field prowess — although it doesn’t hurt. Southern needs Menard’s mind, experience and his leadership nine months after all three of its 2017 captains in Aaron Tiller, Danny Johnson and Austin Howard exhausted their eligibility. While awaiting the NCAA’s decision this spring, Menard attended every practice and meeting. Even if Menard couldn’t play, Odums wanted his team to be around a championship player. “In order to have a good future, you need somebody to tell you about your past,” Odums said. “To be able to have him in our program and stand before our program and talk about the journey we take and the jour-

ney we’ve been on and how we get back to that 2013 team and how we duplicate that process again. It’s hard to pass that process on when you don’t have anybody to pass the baton.” This year, maybe more so than in years past, Menard is making a point to remind the Jaguars of the characteristics that made the 2013 team special. The past four seasons, Menard hasn’t seen the same level of hunger in his teammates, even if they’ve been more talented and certainly

more disciplined than those in the early days of Odums’ tenure. Sometimes, Menard said, it takes a little attitude to win a championship. “Now (Odums) has the good players and the honor roll and the players that are going to listen to him,” Menard said. “Back in 2013, they were playing for something else. They were all chasing something, and they wanted to win. That’s all we had in common. We wanted to win, and we weren’t going to stop until we won.

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SOUTHERN: 2018 Schedule analysis GAME 1: AT TCU DATE: Sept. 1 | TIME: 11 a.m. | TV: Fox WHERE: Amon G. Carter Stadium, Fort Worth, Texas ABOUT TCU: Depending on which poll you take, the Horned Frogs are a top 10 team in FBS. They have some holes to fill on offense but that likely won’t make much difference in this one. Defensive lineman Ben Banogu was named preseason Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and will be trouble for a young Southern quarterback trying to get his legs under him. PATH TO THE W: Realistically, the best Southern, in the FCS, can hope for here is to stay healthy and get out of Texas with a nice paycheck. Seeing a new QB stay composed under immense pressure would be nice a dream. THE ADVOCATE SAYS ... TCU 55, Southern 10 (0-1)

GAME 4: vs. ALABAMA A&M

GAME 7: vs. TEXAS SOUTHERN

DATE: Sept, 22 | TIME: 4 p.m. WHERE: Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Mobile, Alabama ABOUT AAMU: Connell Maynor makes the jump to the SWAC from the MEAC, where he spent most of his playing and coaching career. The first-year head coach comes into a decent situation with AAMU having had a solid season on defense in 2017. The former quarterback will have to put a little work into an offense that averaged only 17 points per game, though. PATH TO THE W: This is a good early test for Southern before getting into the heavy hitters of the SWAC. AAMU allowed the second-fewest passing yards last year and will be led this year by first-team All-SWAC DB Dylan Hamilton. THE ADVOCATE SAYS: ... SU 21, Ala. A&M 14 (2-2. 1-0)

DATE: Oct. 20 | TIME: 2 p.m. WHERE: Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas ABOUT TSU: TSU’s only two wins in 2017 were against Valley and UAPB, and even those were closer than fans would’ve liked. Coach Michael Haywood is in his third year, so expect some improvement. PATH TO THE W: This game is sandwiched into a potentially bumpy stretch of the schedule, so maintaining focus is key. THE ADVOCATE SAYS ... Southern 32, TSU 13 (5-2, 4-0)

GAME 2: at LOUISIANA TECH

GAME 5: ALCORN STATE

DATE: Saturday, Sept. 8 | TIME: 6 p.m. WHERE: Joe Alliet Stadium, Ruston ABOUT LA TECH: Tech consistently finished near the top of C-USA in all five years under Skip Holtz, winning bowl games in each of the past four. The Bulldogs likely will do so again in 2018 with quarterback J’Mar Smith entering Year 2. PATH TO THE W: While not as daunting as TCU, staying healthy and getting experience is what Southern should be looking for here. If the secondary limits mistakes and the offensive line keeps the quarterbacks clean, maybe this one stays close. THE ADVOCATE SAYS ... La. Tech 42, Southern 13 (0-2)

DATE: Saturday, Sept. 29 | TIME: 6 p.m. WHERE: A.W. Mumford Stadium ABOUT ALCORN: The moment Southern waited four years for — no more Lenorris Footman. The Alcorn quarterback is gone and with him the SWAC’s leading rusher from last year, De’Lance Turner. Alcorn also overhauled its coaching staff. The Braves should still be a top team in the SWAC, but who knows what they’ll look like? PATH TO THE W: This game kicks off the meat of Southern’s schedule. All competitions and position battles must be settled by this time. Alcorn is always a tough game, even with Footman and Turner gone. As always, Southern has to stop the run. THE ADVOCATE SAYS ... SU 17, Alcorn 14 (3-2, 2-0)

GAME 3: LANGSTON DATE: Saturday, Sept. 15 | TIME: 6 p.m. WHERE: A.W. Mumford Stadium ABOUT LANGSTON: This is a big drop in competition, but Southern could have scheduled worse NAIA programs. Langston was a playoff team in 2017 after going undefeated in the regular season. A run-heavy offense, Langston returns its top three rushers, including quarterback Jaylen Lowe, who was the Central States Football League Athlete of the Year. PATH TO THE W: This should be an easy win no matter what happens. The real fun will be the festivities around the home opener that include the unveiling of stadium renovations, the inaugural Pete Richardson Classic and honoring the 1998 Black National Championship team at halftime. THE ADVOCATE SAYS ... Southern 34, Langston 3 (1-2)

GAME 6: at PRAIRIE VIEW DATE: Saturday, Oct. 13 | TIME: 5 p.m. WHERE: Panther Stadium, Prairie View, Texas ABOUT PV: PV has given long-time SWAC assistant Eric Dooley his first shot as a head coach. One of the best offensive minds in the conference for decades, Dooley alone makes PV contenders in the future. This year depends on if he can get settled in the new position. PATH TO THE W: This is one of the most interesting games on Southern’s schedule. A former assistant under Pete Richardson, Dooley has history with the Jaguars. It’s tough to say how good they’ll be this year, but if he replicates any of his offensive success from Grambling, Southern has to play tight defense. THE ADVOCATE SAYS ... SU 30, P. View 28 (4-2, 3-0)

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GAME 8: JACKSON STATE DATE: Oct. 27 | TIME: 6 p.m. WHERE: A.W. Mumford Stadium ABOUT JSU: Though not great on paper, JSU added some interesting wrinkles in the offseason. JSU was the only team in the SWAC not to put a player on the first- or secondteam preseason all-conference lists, but offensive guru Hal Mumme is calling plays now. PATH TO THE W: JSU was one of the worst passing teams in the country last year at 128.1 yards per game. That will change under pass-loving Mumme. THE ADVOCATE SAYS ... Southern 28, JSU 24 (6-2, 5-0)

GAME 9: UAPB DATE: Saturday, Nov. 10 | TIME: 4 p.m. WHERE: A.W. Mumford Stadium ABOUT UAPB: Pine Bluff might be better than last year, but nothing suggests the Golden Lions will be contenders. KeShawn Williams returns at running back after running for 75.8 yards per game in 2017. PATH TO THE W: Shutting down Williams is the main focus. The rest should take care of itself. THE ADVOCATE SAYS ... SU 44, UAPB 17 (7-2, 6-0)

GAME 10: vs. GRAMBLING DATE: Saturday, Nov. 24 | TIME: 4 p.m. WHERE: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans ABOUT GRAMBLING: Two-time defending SWAC champs and three-time defending West champs, Grambling is still the team to beat. The Tigers lost a lot of their offensive playmakers but expect their replacements to be settled by November. PATH TO THE W: Grambling’s front seven on defense is going to be a wall, and the secondary is not far behind. This could be the big game that kicks off another fouryear career for whoever wins the starting quarterback job. THE ADVOCATE SAYS ... Grambling 34, SU 24 (7-3, 6-1) Mike Gegenheimer


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SOUTHERN JAGUARS!!

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SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE: Season preview

ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO BY ROGELIO V. SOLIS

Fred McNair has helped his alma mater, Alcorn State, to four straight SWAC East Division titles, the past two as a head coach after serving the first two as quarterbacks coach under Jay Hopson.

THE ADVOCATE’S PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

V

WEST DIVISION

EAST DIVISION

1. GRAMBLING: Rebuilding or not, until someone takes down the two-time defending champs, the Tigers remain on top. The defense will make sure of that. 2. SOUTHERN: Southern is one of the more consistent programs in the SWAC under Dawson Odums, but it has been five years since the Jaguars claimed a title. 3. PRAIRIE VIEW: First-year head coach Eric Dooley has a reputation as one of the best offensive minds in the SWAC. It might take some time to adjust, but PV could be a force in the future. 4. ARKANSAS-PINE BLUFF: The return of KeShawn Williams at running back is certainly a boost for the Golden Lions, but probably not enough to make them a real threat. 5. TEXAS SOUTHERN: TSU will once again battle it out with Pine Bluff to avoid the bottom of the western barrel. Could former LSU assistant coach Mike Haywood be on the hot seat entering his third season?

1. ALCORN STATE: See Grambling. It’s been four years since someone other than Alcorn claimed the East. But an almost all-new coaching staff and losses on offense leave questions. 2. JACKSON STATE: JSU was the only team to not receive any preseason All-SWAC selections. But the addition of Hal Mumme as offensive coordinator could make things interesting. 3. ALABAMA STATE: If the Hornets can avoid another five-game skid to start the season, they have a chance to pose a challenge. They had a great defense last year but a terrible offense. 4. ALABAMA A&M: A new head coach might help A&M avoid the bottom of the SWAC standings. The Bulldogs had a tough defense last season but averaged just 17 points per game. 5. MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE: It’s hard to pick a program that managed to average negative rushing yardage per game last season anywhere but last.

FOUR KEY GAMES

NOW TRENDING

PRAIRIE VIEW JACKSON STATE SOUTHERN SWAC TITLE VS. GRAMBLING AT SOUTHERN VS. GRAMBLING GAME SEPT. 29: The State Fair Classic gets a new wrinkle with former Grambling offensive coordinator Eric Dooley taking over at PV. The first-time head coach will have adjustments to make.

OCT. 27: Southern has won four straight over its second-biggest rival, but JSU is trending up with the addition of Hal Mumme as offensive coordinator and a strong defense.

NOV. 24: Required viewing for all SWAC fans on a yearly basis, but 2018 could be different. The game likely will decide the West again, but both sides have rather large holes to fill. Anything can happen in NOLA.

DEC. 1: This might be cheating, but this one is huge for the league. After just months of thinking the title game was dead, the SWAC revived it for one more year, back home in Birmingham, Alabama.

TRENDING UP: PRAIRIE VIEW

Eric Dooley has been waiting patiently for his time to come as a head coach in the SWAC. After 13 years at Southern under Pete Richardson, three at Arkansas-Pine Bluff and another four at Grambling under Broderick Fobbs, Dooley knows what a winner looks like. Might not be this year, but PV is on the up.

TRENDING DOWN: GRAMBLING

This will either look genius or downright stupid by November. There’s a lot of unknowns about this team, and it could cause a slide after back-to-back titles — or they could simply reload back to old levels. Right now it’s anyone’s guess.

PICK TO CLICK: SOUTHERN WR RANDALL MENARD

Menard has always had potential to be a breakout star in Southern’s offense. Unfortunately, a long line of injuries held him back. The big receiver was given a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA for one last chance at making a splash.

For a schedule grid of Southwestern Athletic Conference teams, go to Page 52.

Mike Gegenheimer


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The Advocate

THE TIGERS

SCHEDULE 9.1 9.8 9.22 9.29 10.6 10.13 10.20 10.27 11.3 11.10 11.24

Time

at UL-Lafayette 6 p.m. at Northwestern St. 6 p.m. Alabama St.* 6 p.m. vs. P. View*/Dallas 4 p.m. Okla. Panhandle St. 6 p.m. at Texas Southern* 6 p.m. at Alcorn St.* 2 p.m. Ark.-Pine Bluff* 2 p.m. Miss. Valley St.* 2 p.m. at Ala. A&M* 1 p.m. vs. SU*/New Orleans 4 p.m.

*­­—SWAC games

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GRAMBLING

LAST SEASON: 11-2 (7-0 SWAC) COACH: Broderick Fobbs (fifth season, 39-11) LEADER: There’s a reason De’Arius Christmas was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2017. The undersized linebacker is a force for a defense that has been outshined by its offensive counterparts the past few years. RETURNING: If there’s one aspect of the offense to be excited about, it’s that Grambling returns eight of its nine top receivers with the notable exception of running back Martez Carter. No matter who becomes the starting quarterback, he’ll have some experienced hands to lean on early. BREAKOUT: Defensive lineman Anfernee Mullins spent the first month of the 2017 season waiting to be cleared by the NCAA after transferring from Mississippi State. But once he got on the field, there was no stopping him. He had seven sacks and 27 tackles in just eight appearances. With a full season, those numbers could explode. ISSUE: Grambling lost a lot of offensive talent. It also brought in a lot of new talent. The first few weeks will tell a lot about what kind of team the Tigers have. OUTLOOK: Grambling hasn’t lost a regular-season conference game in three years, so expect the Tigers to be contenders — even with so many big question marks.

Date Opponent

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Time to redefine a juggernaut Grambling will rework offense, seeking to maintain place among SWAC’s elite BY MIKE GEGENHEIMER Special to The Advocate

There’s no “maybe” about it. Grambling’s 2018 offense will look significantly different than it did during its recent run of success. For the past two years, the Tigers dominated the Southwestern Athletic Conference with Devante Kincade under center and Martez Carter in the backfield. So crushing was the offensive juggernaut that Grambling cruised to consecutive appearances in the Celebration Bowl, winning that game and the black college national championship in 2016. Kincade threw for 5,901 yards in his two years in Louisiana. And combined with Carter’s production, the duo ran for 2,432 yards on the ground. Under the leadership of offensive coordinator Eric Dooley, opposing defenses could not stop the swift and cutting attack even when they knew exactly what the playmakers were capable of. That is not the case in 2018. For the first time in recent memory, Grambling does not return an established playmaker on offense. There is no known quantity the Tigers can turn to and expect the same amount of high production without a shadow of a doubt. Grambling’s quarterbacks carry with them a combined 51 pass attempts at the collegiate level and a solitary start that belongs to Geremy Hickbottom, who, coach Broderick Fobbs suggested without much commitment, entered preseason campaign as the likely frontrunner. The Tigers lost three of their top four rushers from last year. Desherrius Flowers is the leading returner with 129 yards on 49 carries. Even Dooley has left north Louisiana after taking the head coaching position at Prairie View, prompting Fobbs to steer more toward what he ran at McNeese State, with Reginald Nelson taking over play-calling duties. Nelson was offensive line coach at McNeese when Fobbs

ADVOCATE FILE PHOTO BY SCOTT THRELKELD

Grambling coach Broderick Fobbs, white shirt, will need to replace quarterback Devante Kincade (1) and reconstruct his team’s offense to continue the Tigers’ run of success atop the Southwestern Athletic Conference. was coordinator from 2007-11. “We’ll do some things that are similar, but we’ll do some things that are different, as well,” Fobbs said. “Of course, all the weight is not going to be on the quarterback, but we want to make sure we’re still aggressive in our approach to stretch the field vertically as well as horizontally. “We’re going to hit all the spots on the field to force the defense to defend the entire football field and then get our guys in space to make plays with their legs.” Grambling is not alone in the SWAC in its dearth of established playmakers. Southern is no longer led by quarterback Austin Howard, and for the first time in four years, Alcorn State can’t rely on quarterback Lennoris Footman or running back De’Lance Turner. So limited are the established options for the SWAC’s new offensive face of the league that Alcorn running back P.J. Simmons was voted preseason

Offensive Player of the Year despite finishing sixth in rushing in 2017 as the No. 2 back for the Braves. Where Grambling differs from many of its SWAC counterparts is that Fobbs has made a career of injecting the Tigers with outside talent through the transfer market, be it from junior college or the FBS level. This year is no different. Grambling added Arkansas State transfer Aldon Clark to its quarterback competition this summer, following a similar route as Kincade, who came from Ole Miss. A big difference is Clark holds four years of remaining NCAA eligibility. At 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, the 3-star prospect out of New Orleans has a history of winning in Louisiana and could be the answer to all of Grambling’s questions. As a senior, he was the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s Class 4A state offensive player of the year after leading Edna Karr to a 15-0 record and the 2016 4A state championship.

“As his career progresses, he will become that playmaker that everybody was accustomed to seeing while he was at Karr,” said Karr coach Brice Brown. “While he was here, he was a field general, and you can’t turn something like that off. It just comes naturally.” The good news for whoever wins the competition is that Fobbs doesn’t want a playmaker at quarterback. At least not at first. Grambling wants a distributor under center until whoever wins the job gains more experience. Fobbs compared the situation to the early days of Kincade when he wasn’t able to go through spring practice when he first arrived. “At the end of the day you just want to play great football,” Fobbs said. “For them, our focus is to make sure they’re being a point guard and not necessarily a playmaker. If they can just distribute the ball and make sure the ball is in the right people’s hands, then it’s up to them to make plays.”


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SOUTHERN: Season preview

SOUTHERN

Southern also brought in Alexander Rodriguez and Carlos Stephens from UAB to add depth, and Jamarqueza Mims returns as a reserve. “All of us have been here,” Profit said. “If we need to help (the quarterbacks), we can help them because we’ve been here longer than them. If they have a question, we can help them. “We just have to get in and do our job. They have to do what they have to do to get on the field, and we do what we have to do.”

Continued from page 20

That bodes well for Lampley’s chances as teammates consistently praise him for his hard work, natural leadership and, of course, his legs. But at least for the early portion of the season, Southern plans to put the ball in the JOHN LAMPLEY BUBBA McDANIEL LADARIUS SKELTON hands of its running backs to move the chains. No problem. Devon Benn entered camp as the leading returner with ing running back ran for more string injury ended his sopho- was a promising contender for Follow Mike Gegenheimer on 442 yards and four touchdowns than 100, but Darbbeon Profit more season two weeks before the starting job after a strong Twitter, @Mike_Gegs. last season. No other return- is back on the field after a ham- the opener. Before that, he freshman campaign.

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TULANE: Season preview

SURGE AS ONE

The Green Wave’s maddening end to 2017 has helped this team come together

Tulane safety Roderic Teamer: ‘I feel like we’re ahead of the game.’ BY GUERRY SMITH

Special to The Advocate The controversial call that cost Tulane a bowl bid last year could be the galvanizing force that propels the Green Wave to the postseason this fall. None of the players or coaches can forget the helpless combination of anger and despair they experienced after an official marked quarterback Jonathan Banks an inch shy of the goal line on the final

play of the 2017 finale at SMU, and a replay official refused to overturn the decision on the field. Just like that, Tulane’s season was over with a 5-7 record rather than continuing to a bowl game for the first time in four years and only the second time in 15 seasons. To a man, though, they have vowed not to put themselves in the position again where a referee can affect the outcome of an entire season. “Oh, yeah, it’s fuel to our fire,” Banks said. “We talk about it all the

ADVOCATE FILE PHOTO BY A.J. SISCO

time. We joke around about it now, but it’s really serious.” One play. One spot. Taking a shotgun snap with 9 seconds left and a 41-38 deficit, Banks made an all-ornothing gamble he could run to the end zone on first-and-goal from the 1 with no timeouts left. Depending on your perspective, he either made it easily, getting the ball to the goal line as his body fell across it, or he might have come up a hair short when his left elbow landed while he was taken to the ground by line-

backer Kyran Mitchell. When the play went to the booth for review, CBS Sports color analyst Andre Ware declared it an easy reversal, saying Tulane was headed to a bowl game. Before the decision was announced, coach Willie Fritz stood on the field with his arms over his head signaling “touchdown.” Seconds later, his hope was dashed. The call stood. “It was a tough game; it really was,” Fritz said a few days after preseason practice started in early August. “Coaches had to let go of it. Players had to let go of it. Everybody had to let go of it. I had to kick myself in the butt three or four weeks after that game and move on.” Two linemen behind the play, John Leglue and Keyshawn McLeod, raised their arms. Wide receiver Jacob Robertson, who had a perfect view from a yard in the end zone, gave no visible reaction, but he says now he knew it was a score. “I was 100 percent sure,” he said. “I was like, wow, he’s in, and then when they said no, I was like, man, this can’t be real. We think about that all the time. We don’t want to end up in that situation where we have to worry about that last play.” For the seniors who were instrumental in that bowl push, like leading tackler Rae Juan Marbley and 1,000-yard rusher Dontrell Hilliard, there would be no second chance. For everyone else, this entire season represents another chance. It started during the offseason strength and conditioning program, with each player taking it upon himself to get better. “I’ve been impressed with the development of our guys,” Fritz said. “I see some of them walking around, and they just kind of look a little different physically. I think they dropped (their frustration) and worked extremely hard.” Banks added 15 pounds of muscle, entering the interview room after the first day of camp with bulging biceps. Senior safety Roderic Teamer, who trailed SMU receiver Trey

ä See SURGE, page 32


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TULANE SEASON PREVIEW n LEADER

Senior quarterback Jonathan Banks threw for 565 yards in the last two games of 2017 and plans to build on his hot finish. As the last guy off the practice field every day, he takes his role seriously and has built an excellent rapport with his teammates.

n BREAKOUT

n OUTLOOK

The margin for error is not great, but Tulane has enough talent and experience to finish with a winning record for only the second time in the past 16 years. The offense should be effective on the ground and in the air. The defense needs some young, promising players to mature quickly.

Safety P.J. Hall was so-so in limited playing time at cornerback in his first two years, but he found a home at strong safety in spring drills. He gives the Green Wave the ball-hawking ability and coverage skills it lacked at the position in the past.

n ISSUE

Continued from page 30 Quinn on the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, noticed a team-wide difference. “I feel like we’re ahead of the game,” he said. “I’ll tell anybody that. Honestly the feeling was a lot different coming out to camp this year than last year. A lot of guys usually struggle on the first day because football shape is a lot different than offseason training, but today guys were flying around making plays. That’s exciting to see.” With the same eight conference opponents as a year ago and a comparable non-conference schedule as well — Ohio State replaces Oklahoma as a paycheck game, Nicholls State subs for Grambling as an FCS home opponent and UAB steps in for Florida International as a tricky road trip — the Wave sees every reason to improve. “My main motto when I talk to my teammates is we’re one inch away, and just don’t get that out of your mind,” said junior running back Darius Bradwell, who rushed for a career-high 80 yards and two

DATE OPPONENT TIME 8.30 Wake Forest 7 p.m./CBSS 9.8 Nicholls State 7 p.m. 9.15 at UAB Noon 9.22 at Ohio State TBA 9.28 Memphis* 7 p.m./ESPN2 10.6 at Cincinnati* TBA 10.20 Southern Methodist* TBA 10.27 at Tulsa* TBA 11.3 at South Florida* TBA 11.10 East Carolina* TBA 11.15 at Houston* 7 p.m./ESPN 11.24 Navy* TBA *­­—American Athletic Conference games

Tulane must be better in the kicking game. The coverage units are sound, but the Green Wave has cost itself games with untimely missed field goals, a lack of range and inconsistent punting in coach Willie Fritz’s first two years while getting next to nothing on returns.

SURGE

n SCHEDULE

n PREDICTION: 7-5 Guerry Smith

Quarterback Jonathan Banks

touchdowns against SMU and expects to pick up where he left off. “That left a bitter taste in our mouth. In our head we know that we are good enough to win eight games or even 13 games, but we’ve got to come and prepare and do all the little things right every time. Once we get that down, we’ll be good.” On offense, Tulane has loads of experience everywhere but running back. Banks is a senior. The top four wide receivers are three seniors (Terren Encalade, Jabril Clewis, Notre Dame grad transfer Freddy Canteen) and a junior (Darnell Mooney). The line has four returning starters, including seniors John Leglue and Dominique Briggs, and an-

other grad transfer in left tackle Noah Fisher, a second-team All-Sun Belt selection at South Alabama in 2017. The defense is younger but still returns 10 players who started at least one game a year ago. No one wants a repeat of that devastating post-game feeling at SMU. “It definitely fueled us,” said sophomore defense end Cameron Sample, who the coaches believe can be an all-conference performer after a promising freshman debut. “The guys are definitely really focused in now. We didn’t forget about what happened, but we’re looking ahead to make sure we fin-

ish so we don’t have that situation again. There were a whole bunch of plays before the last one that could have swayed the outcome.” Banks considered his first season a feeling-out process as

a transfer from Independence (Kansas) Community College. His final year is all about togetherness after he organized countless offseason workouts.

ä See SURGE, page 33

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TULANE: Season preview/roster # Name Pos. Ht. 1 Jonathan Banks QB 6-­2 1 Donnie Lewis Jr. CB 6-­0 2 Dane Ledford QB 6-­0 2 Roderic Teamer Jr. S 6-­0 3 Darnell Mooney WR 5-­11 4 Larry Bryant S 6-­1 4 P.J. Hurst QB 6-­1 5 Terren Encalade WR 6-­0 6 Corey Dauphine RB 6­-0 7 Devin Glenn RB 5-­7 8 Freddy Canteen WR 6-­1 8 Willie Langham CB 6­-1 9 Jaylon Monroe CB 5­-9 10 Darius Bradwell RB 6­-1 11 Amare Jones RB 5­-11 12 Sean Harper S 6-­1 12 Miles Lapeyre QB 5-­11 13 Quentin Brown S 6-­1 13 Brian Newman WR 5­-10 14 Dorian Camel CB 6-­1 14 Christian Daniels QB 6-­2 15 Jacob Robertson Jr. WR 6-­0 16 P.J. Hall S 5-­11 17 Jorien Vallien WR 6-­3 19 Taris Shenall S 6-­0 20 Cameron Carroll RB 6-­0 21 Chris Joyce DB 5­-11 21 James Poche RB 6­-0 22 Stephon Huderson RB 5­-9 23 Ryan Thompson WR 6-­1 25 Will Harper S 6­-0 26 Thakarius Keyes CB 6-­1 27 Ygenio Booker RB 5­-11 28 Marvin Moody LB 6­-2 29 Keitha Jones Jr. LB 6­-1 30 Logan Ammons RB 5­-8 30 Alfred Thomas DE 6­-2 31 Larry Brooks S 6­-0 32 Grant Hamel S 5-­11 33 Tirise Barge S 5-­11 34 Jared Bertrand RB 5-­5 34 Patrick Johnson DE 6­-3 35 Lawrence Graham LB 5­-10 36 Chase Kuerschen S 6-­1 37 Macon Clark S 6­-0 38 KJ Vault LB 6-­1 39 La’Dedric Jackson LB 6-­1 40 Zachery Harris LB 6­-0 40 Connor Prouet TE 6-­0 41 Enrique Carrasquero P 5-­11

Wt. Cl. 230 Sr. 195 ­Sr. 190 R-­Fr. 205 Sr. 175 Jr. 205 Jr. 175 ­So. 190 ­Sr. 200 ­Jr. 160 Sr. 195 Sr. 185 R-­Fr. 175 So. 230 Jr. 190 Fr. 205 Jr. 170 R-­Fr. 210 R-­Fr. 180 R-­Sr. 175 Fr. 205 Fr. 175 ­So. 190 Jr. 180 Fr. 195 Sr. 230 Fr. 170 Fr. 195 Fr. 190 So. 180 Fr. 195 Jr. 195 Jr. 205 Fr. 225 So. 220 Fr. 180 R-­Fr 290 Fr. 195 Fr. 185 Fr 190 So. 180 Sr. 255 So. 230 Jr. 210 So. 185 Fr. 205 R-­Fr. 220 Fr. 220 Sr. 245 R-­Fr. 195 Jr.

Hometown/Previous school Houston (Independence CC) Baton Rouge (Central) Argyle (High) Texas New Orleans (Brother Martin) Gadsden (High) Ala. Kennesaw, Ga. (North Cobb) Pacific Palisades, Calif. (Charter) East Pointe a la Hache (Belle Chasse) Port Arthur, Texas (Texas Tech) New Orleans (Warren Easton) Elkton, Md. (Notre Dame) McAdory (High) Ala. Mesquite, Texas (West Mesquite) Tallahassee, Fla. (Godby) Frisco, Texas (Frisco Heritage) Fayette County (High) Ga. New Orleans (Newman) Conroe (High) Texas Houston (St. Pius X) Baton Rouge (Scotlandville) Elon, N.C. (Western Alamance) College Park, Ga. (Woodward Aca.) Hoover (High) Ala. Alexandria (Alexandria) Marrero (John Ehret) Flowood, Miss. (Northwest Rankin) Hampton, Ga.(Dutchtown) New Orleans (Newman) Petal (High) Miss. St. Louis (MICDS) Memphis, Tenn. (Sandy Creek) Laurel (High) Miss Brooksville Fla. (Hernando) Bryant (High) Ark. Port Arthur, Texas (Memorial) New Baunfels, Texas (Canyon) Montgomery, Ala. (Sidney Lanier) Kennedale (High) Texas Overland Park, Kan. (Blue Valley N.) Moultrie, Ga. (Colquitt County) Covington (Archbishop Hannan) Chattanooga, Tenn. (Notre Dame High) Lauderhill, Fla. (American Heritage) Knoxville, Tenn. (Catholic) St. Rose (Destrehan) Hoover (High) Ala. Montgomery, Ala. (Sidney Lanier) New Orleans (Holy Cross) New Orleans (Jesuit) Metairie (Rummel)

# Name Pos. Ht. 42 Torri Singletary Jr. DE 6-­4 43 Coby Neenan PK 6-­2 44 Juan Monjarres DE 6­-2 45 Randy Harvey PK 6-­0 46 Will Wallace TE 6-­4 47 Andrew Zuckerman RB 5-­9 48 De’Andre Williams NT 6-­3 49 Zachary Block P/K 6-­5 50 Tyler Johnson OL 6-­3 51 Stephen Lewerenz OL 6-3 52 Dominique Briggs OL 6-­3 53 Keyshawn McLeod OL 6-­4 54 Carlos Hatcher DE 6-­3 55 Cameron Sample DE 6-­3 56 Austin Streaty LS 5-­8 57 Noah Fisher OL 6-­5 57 Peter Woullard DE 6-­4 58 Brian Webb OL 6­-2 59 Sam Bruchhaus LB 6-­3 60 Geron Eatherly LS 6-­0 62 Merek Glover PK 6-­0 63 Cameron Jackel OL 6-­6 64 Corey Dublin OL 6-­4 66 Nik Hogan OL 6-­4 68 Henry Stern NT 6­-1 69 Hunter Knighton OL 6-­5 70 Timothy Shafter OL 6-­4 71 Ben Bratcher OL 6-­6 72 John Leglue OL 6­-7 73 Jason Swann O L 6-­3 74 Devon Johnson OL 6-­5 76 Michael Remondet OL 6-­4 77 Jeffery Johnson NT 6­-2 78 Davon Wright DE 6-­1 79 Joey Claybrook OL 6­-6 80 Tyrick James TE 6­-2 81 D.J. Owens WR 5-­10 82 Jaetavian Toles WR 6-­0 84 Charles Jones II TE 6­-4 86 Sorrell Brown WR 6-­3 87 Kevin LeDee WR 6-­4 88 Jabril Clewis WR 6-­2 89 Kendall Ardoin TE 6-­5 90 Robert Kennedy DE 6-­1 92 Sterling Stockwell PK 5-­9 93 Jamiran James NT 6-­1 96 Casey Glover PK 6-­3 97 Ryan Wright P 6-­3 98 Nick Kubiet DE 6-­4 99 Justin Walton DE 6-­1

Wt. Cl. 235 R-­Fr. 19 ­So. 230 Fr. 210 ­Jr. 245 R-­Fr. 185 Jr. 290 ­So. 200 Sr. 280 Jr. 275 Fr. 295 Sr. 305 ­Jr. 235 Fr. 280 So. 190 R­-Fr. 325 Sr. 235 ­Sr. 310 ­Jr. 200 R-­Fr. 225 Jr. 195 Jr. 290 R-­Fr. 300 So. 290 Fr. 290 ­Jr. 300 Gr. 275 R-­Fr. 295 R-­Fr. 310 ­Sr. 295 Fr. 290 ­Sr. 275 Fr. 320 Fr. 290 Fr. 290 R­-Fr. 250 Fr. 200 Jr. 185 So. 255 ­Sr. 200 Fr. 195 R-­Fr. 210 Sr. 245 ­Sr. 275 ­Sr. 185 Fr. 280 Fr. 175 Fr. 245 Fr. 250 R-­Fr. 240 R-­Fr

Hometown/Previous school Baldwin, Fla. (Baldwin County) Dothan, Ala. (Northview) New Orleans (St. Augustine) Destrehan (Destrehan) Natchez, Miss. (Cathedral) Potomac, Md. (Winston Churchill) Baton Rouge (Scotlandville) Clermont, Fla. (East Ridge) Atlanta (Stephenson) Gainesville, Fla. (Buchholz) Tulsa, Okla. (Coffeyville CC) Port Charlotte High) Fla. Carrollton, Texas (Hebron) Snellville, Ga. (Shiloh) Nashville, Tenn. (Montgomery Bell) Decatur, Ga. (South Alabama) New Orleans (St. Augustine) New Orleans (Miller-­McCoy Academy) Lake Charles (St. Louis Catholic) San Antonio (Tom C. Clark) Jericho, N.Y. (Friends Academy) Marrero (Archbishop Shaw HS) New Orleans (Jesuit) Flowood, Miss. (Northwest Rankin) San Francisco (Sacred Heart) Pottstown, Pa. (Miami) Hingham (High) Mass. Dallas (J.J. Pearce) Alexandria (Holy Savior Menard) Pembroke Pines, Fla. (Aquinas) Amite (Amite) Youngsville (Ascension Episcopal) Brookhaven (High) Miss. Donaldsonville (Donaldsonville) Starkville (High) Miss. China Spring (High) Texas Acworth, Ga. (North Paulding) Houston (Stratford) New Orleans (St. Augustine) Arlington, Texas (Martin HS) Cypress Ridge (High) Texas San Diego (Grossmont College) Ville Platte (Ville Platte) Belle Chasse (Belle Chasse) Orlando, Fla. (Dr. Phillips) New Orleans (De La Salle HS) Jericho, N.Y. (Friends Academy) San Ramon, Calif. (California High) Palm Coast, Fla. (Matanzas) Cleveland (University School)

“IT’S NOT WHAT WE DO, IT’S HOW WE DO IT”

SURGE

Continued from page 32 “I feel like we’re a better team,” he said. “We know each other more, so there’s more chemistry. With a better bond, you are going to play better.” That bonding began with the heartbreak in Dallas. Bradwell recalls renewed determination before the players even boarded the team bus outside the stadium. “It happened as soon as we entered the locker room,” he said. “Right after the game, we automatically knew that we have to change what we’re doing. Since that clock went to zeroes, it was motivation for all of us. “We know that we are capable of doing great things for Tulane. We just can’t lose anymore. We have to put it all in there, and we’ll win.” Follow Guerry Smith on Twitter, @guersmith

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AAC: Season preview NOW TRENDING

THE ADVOCATE’S PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

TRENDING UP:

WESTERN DIVISION

EASTERN DIVISION

1.NAVY: The Midshipmen have two 1,000-yard rushers returning at quarterback. If they beat Memphis at home in their AAC opener, they can win the division for the second time in three years. 2. MEMPHIS: The Tigers have a plethora of big-play skill guys but will miss steady QB Riley Ferguson in the quest to repeat in the division. 3.HOUSTON: The Cougars were up and down in Major Applewhite’s first year, winning at then-undefeated South Florida but losing 45-17 to last-place Tulsa. The defense, with star tackle Ed Oliver, is strong. 4.TULANE: The improved Wave opens conference play at home vs. Memphis and closes the season at home against Navy. A win in either game would be huge as Willie Fritz continues to change the culture. 5.TULSA: The pick here to win the West in 2017, the Golden Hurricane went 1-7 with three losses by 21 or more. Tulsa needs a QB, too. 6. SMU: The Mustangs lost a ton of talent from a team that was lucky to finish .500 in the league. Coach Chad Morris then bolted for Arkansas, leaving replacement Sonny Dykes with a rebuilding project.

1.CENTRAL FLORIDA: Wunderkind coach Scott Frost is gone, but terrific QB McKenzie Milton leads a loaded backfield and the Knights have a friendly conference schedule. Look for a repeat championship. 2. TEMPLE: The 2016 AAC champ went 4-1 in its final five games after a disappointing start as QB Frank Nutile came into his own. 3. SOUTH FLORIDA: The Bulls never totally clicked under new coach Charlie Strong. Still looking for their first conference title, they will have to make do without all-world QB Quinton Flowers. 4. CINCINNATI: The Bearcats will be better in coach Luke Fickell’s second year, occupying a clear-cut spot between the three division contenders and the two bottom feeders in the East. 5. EAST CAROLINA: The defensively challenged Pirates get fellow cellar dweller UConn at home. That’s the margin between fifth and sixth place. 6. CONNECTICUT: The Huskies lost five in a row to end 2017 and return two defensive starters. Ouch. The best thing going for them is a crossover schedule that features Tulsa and SMU.

FAMILIARITY

The AAC is the only conference to return its reigning offensive player of the year (UCF QB McKenzie Milton), defensive player of the year (Houston DT Ed Oliver) and special teams player of the year (Memphis’ Tony Pollard, who returned four kickoffs for touchdowns).

TRENDING DOWN:

TOP 25 MATCHUPS

UCF ended 2017 by beating No. 22 USF 49-42 and No. 16 Memphis 62-55 in double overtime in the AAC title game on its way to a No. 6 AP final ranking. The Knights are No. 23 in the preseason coaches’ poll, but no one else is ranked.

SCHEDULES

PICK TO CLICK:

HOUSTON DT ED OLIVER

Oliver has lived up to all of his hype as a five-star recruit in his first two years. He dominated in the middle almost every week in 2017 despite sustaining an MCL injury that forced him to play with a knee brace for five games. He could be the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NFL draft.

FOUR KEY GAMES MEMPHIS AT NAVY

SEPT. 8: The winner will have a leg up in the West, particularly because both of them host fellow contender Houston.

HOUSTON AT NAVY

CINCINNATI

HOUSTON

NAVY

EAST CAROLINA

MEMPHIS

SMU

September 1 at UCLA, 6 p.m. 8 at Miami (Oh.), 7 p.m. 15 Alabama A&M, 6 p.m. 22 Ohio 29 at UConn October 6 Tulane 20 at Temple 27 at SMU November 3 Navy 10 South Florida 17 at UCF 23 East Carolina

September 1 N.C. A&T, 5 p.m. 8 N.Carolina, 2:30 p.m. 15 at Va. Tech, 11:20 a.m. 22 at South Florida 29 Old Dominion October 6 at Temple 13 Houston 20 UCF November 3 Memphis 10 at Tulane 17 UConn 23 at Cincinnati

OCT. 20: Oliver helped hold Navy’s triple option to 79 yards in the second half of a 24-14 victory a year ago.

MEMPHIS AT MISSOURI

OCT. 20: The AAC will not have many chances to make an out-of-conference splash, but Memphis can make a midseason statement on the road against a rising SEC team.

UCF AT S. FLORIDA

NOV. 23: UCF ruined USF’s season in an instant classic last year while remaining undefeated. The Bulls hope to return the favor at home.

GO

September 1 at Rice, 11 a.m. 8 Arizona, 11 a.m. 15 at Texas Tech, 3 p.m. 22 Texas Southern, 7 p.m. October 4 Tulsa, 7 p.m. 13 at East Carolina 20 at Navy, 2:30 p.m. 27 South Florida November 3 at SMU 10 Temple 15 Tulane, 7 p.m. 23 at Memphis

September 1 Mercer, 6 p.m. 8 at Navy, 2:30 p.m. 14 Georgia St., 6 p.m. 22 South Alabama, 7 p.m. 28 at Tulane, 7 p.m. October 6 UConn 13 UCF 20 at Missouri November 3 at East Carolina 10 Tulsa 16 at SMU, 8 p.m. 23 Houston

RS! E G TI

September 1 at Hawaii, 10 p.m. 8 Memphis, 2:30 p.m. 15 Lehigh, 2:30 p.m. 22 at SMU October 6 at Air Force, 2:30 p.m. 13 Temple, 2:30 p.m. 20 Houston, 2:30 p.m. 27 Notre Dame, 7 p.m. Nov./Dec. 3 at Cincinnati 10 at UCF 17 Tulsa, 2:30 p.m. 24 at Tulane Dec. 8 Army, 2 p.m. September 1 at N. Texas, 6:30 p.m. 7 TCU, 7 p.m. 15 at Michigan, 2:30 p.m. 22 Navy 29 Houston Baptist, 6 p.m. October 6 at UCF 20 at Tulane 27 Cincinnati November 3 Houston 10 at UConn 16 Memphis, 8 p.m. 24 at Tulsa

GO

NOLA’S

TIG ERS !

SOUTH FLORIDA

TULANE

UCONN

TEMPLE

TULSA

UCF

September 1 Elon, 5 p.m. 8 Georgia Tech, 11 a.m. 15 at Illinois, 2:30 p.m. 22 East Carolina October 6 at UMass 12 at Tulsa, 6 p.m. 20 UConn 27 at Houston November 3 Tulane 10 at Cincinnati 17 at Temple 23 UCF September 1 Villanova, 11 a.m. 8 Buffalo, 2:30 p.m. 15 at Maryland, 11 a.m. 20 Tulsa, 6:30 p.m. 29 at Boston College October 6 East Carolina 13 at Navy, 2:30 p.m. 20 Cincinnati November 1 at UCF, 6:30 p.m. 10 at Houston 17 South Florida 24 at UConn

Aug./Sept. Aug. 30 Wake Forest, 7 p.m. 8 Nicholls St., 7 p.m. 15 at UAB, noon 22 at Ohio St. 28 Memphis, 7 p.m. October 6 at Cincinnati 20 SMU 27 at Tulsa 3 at South Florida 10 East Carolina 15 at Houston, 7 p.m. 24 Navy

September 1 Cent. Arkansas, 6 p.m. 8 at Texas, 7 p.m. 15 Arkansas St., 6 p.m. 20 at Temple, 6:30 p.m. October 4 at Houston, 7 p.m. 12 South Florida, 6 p.m. 20 at Arkansas 27 Tulane November 3 UConn 10 at Memphis 17 at Navy, 2:30 p.m. 24 SMU

Aug./Sept. Aug. 30 UCF, 6 p.m. 8 at Boise St., 9:15 p.m. 15 Rhode Island, 11 a.m. 22 at Syracuse 29 Cincinnati October 6 at Memphis 20 at South Florida 27 UMass 3 at Tulsa 10 SMU 17 at East Carolina 24 Temple

Aug./Sept. Aug. 30 at UConn, 6 p.m. 8 S.C. State, 5 p.m. 15 at N. Carolina, 11 a.m. 21 FAU, 6 p.m. 29 Pittsburgh October 6 SMU 13 at Memphis 20 at East Carolina November 1 Temple, 6:30 p.m. 10 Navy 17 Cincinnati 23 at South Florida

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UL-LAFAYETTE: Season preview

OVERHAULING

New coach Napier is working fast to get Cajuns back to winning

ADVOCATE FILE PHOTO BY LESLIE WESTBROOK

Safety Corey Turner is one of only two active, returning starters on the defense for the Ragin’ Cajuns. BY DAN McDONALD

Special to The Advocate If confidence is the determining factor, this year’s UL-Lafayette’s football team figures to take the first step toward a return to the glory days that sent the Ragin’ Cajuns to new heights early in this decade. Many who meet new head coach Billy Napier talk about the quiet confidence he exudes, a self-assurance built from his

time at some of the country’s best programs — Clemson (twice), Alabama (twice) and most recently at Arizona State — and his two national championship rings. Napier is hugely confident in the “process” and how he’s set up every facet of the Cajuns’ program, both on and off the field. He makes no bones about the fact he’s borrowed heavily from the methods used by former boss Nick Saban at Alabama —

a coach and team his squad will face in late September. He’s just as confident in his assistant coaches, collectively the highest salaried group in UL-Lafayette and Sun Belt Conference history, and an expanded staff of support personnel in virtually every area of the program. And he’s starting to become more confident in his players, especially the first newcomer group that he and his staff bring to campus this fall. Of the 110

players in practice before the start of fall semester classes, 39 have never gone through a Cajuns preseason camp. “We have really a completely different team,” Napier said. “We’ve done a great job as a staff of overhauling the roster, and I’m excited about watching the way these guys work.” The levels of excitement, enthusiasm and confidence are high. But that pesky reality keeps lifting its ugly head: n UL-Lafayette has had three straight losing seasons after four straight 9-4 campaigns to start the decade; n The Cajuns haven’t beaten an FBS nonconference opponent since their last bowl win, the 16-3 victory over Nevada in the 2014 New Orleans Bowl; n In the past three seasons, the squad beat only one FBS team that finished the regular season with a winning record, that coming in a last-second 24-19 upset win over Arkansas State in 2016; n The Cajuns allowed 45 or more points seven times last season and were among the nation’s worst in total defense, scoring defense and third-down defense; n Their most effective quarterback from last year departed after the spring semester, and injuries will sideline or limit several other key figures for much if not the entire 2018 season; n And no one has taken full grasp of the quarterback position, which was key to that early-decade success. There’s also a formidable schedule to contend with, one that includes road games at Mississippi State (where fired former Cajuns coach Mark Hudspeth is associate head coach and tight ends coach) and Alabama. The Cajuns also face all four of the teams picked to go 1-2 in the Sun Belt’s newly minted East and West divisions, three of those coming on the road. “Our guys know the challenges

ä See OVERHAULING, page 38


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UL-LAFAYETTE SEASON PREVIEW n LEADER

He hasn’t won the full-time job yet, but in an inconsistent debut late last year Levi Lewis showed flashes of the athleticism that was his trademark at Scotlandville High. His “bad-play-into-good” potential at quarterback and his insistence that he’s not as antsy in the pocket with the added year of experience could be the difference in the Cajuns making a bowl game or suffering a fourth straight losing season.

n ISSUE

Defense. Defense. Defense. UL-Lafayette hovered between inconsistent and abysmal last season, with two of the five wins coming in wideopen shootouts. Most of the collection of new roster faces are massed on that side of the ball, joining solid starters Corey Turner and Jacques Boudreaux, and that influx should make for a more talented and physical group. How much that will translate to success remains to be seen.

n BREAKOUT

If a graduate student can be termed a “breakout,” it’s hometown product Kendall Johnson, the former St. Thomas More standout who returns after three highly productive seasons at cornerback for the University of Nevada. After 37 games and 26 starts, Johnson provides both badly needed experience and a quiet-but-confident demeanor to what should be an improved secondary. There isn’t a player on the roster happier to be in a Cajuns uniform.

n OUTLOOK

Quarterback Levi Lewis

After a 5-7 season and a coaching housecleaning, coupled with a late start on recruiting, new coach Billy Napier and his staff have been playing catchup since December. Most have the Cajuns tabbed fourth in the Sun Belt’s West Division, and on paper that’s a sensible selection especially with their difficult schedule. But if the defense can find some level of consistency and the offensive front gives the playmakers a chance, a break-even finish is not a huge stretch — and break-even is bowl-worthy in the Sun Belt.

Save Water, Save Time, Save Money!

n SCHEDULE

DATE 9.1 9.15 9.22 9.29 10.6 10.13 10.20 10.27 11.3 11.10 11.17 11.24

OPPONENT TIME/TV Grambling 6 p.m. at Mississippi State 6:30 p.m./SEC Coastal Carolina TBA at Alabama TBA at Texas State TBA New Mexico State TBA at Appalachian State TBA Arkansas State TBA at Troy TBA Georgia State TBA South Alabama TBA at UL-Monroe 2 p.m.

n PREDICTION: 6-6 Dan McDonald


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UL-LAFAYETTE: Season preview

JA’MARCUS BRADLEY

RYHEEM MALONE

TREY RAGAS

ADVOCATE FILE PHOTOS

OVERHAULING Continued from page 36

we’ll face,” Napier said. “It’s critical that we realize the outcome of this team is going to be up to the players. We have to control the controllables and zero in on the intangibles relative to playing winning football. If we get that done, we have a chance to have a good football team.” “This year’s different,” said junior offensive tackle Robert Hunt, the anchor of a still-young-but-experienced front. “We’re better, and I say that because I know that. We’re stronger, our body fats are down, we’re not the hunky chunky guys that we were. Spring and summer was a grind, it was nonstop, but it’s made us better. We’re going to come prepared.” The major question is whether UL-Lafayette will be more prepared defensively after last year’s huge struggles. Only three full-time starters return — one of them, end Joe Dillon, is out for the year with a degenerative bone disease — and the depth chart of new coordinator and former SLU head coach Ron Roberts is filled with new names and faces. “We added an immediate group,” Roberts said. “I thought we were real thin going into the spring. When we went out there, it was a massive difference between the ones and the twos. We’ve added guys across the board that can give us some immediate depth. That’s how you push the depth chart, from

lifted midway through last season, showed some inconsistency but picked up experience, and would have entered the fall as the unquestioned starting quarterback had it not been for the strong spring put up by senior Andre Nunez. The two combined for four starts last year and spent the spring trying to shed perceptions that Nunez is the “throwing” quarterback and Lewis the “running” QB. Nunez hit 62 percent of his passes (61 for 99, with two interceptions) for 783 yards and four scores in four appearances last year, while Lewis threw for 377 ADVOCATE FILE PHOTO yards and two TDs and rushed UL-Lafayette coach Billy Napier for 175 more yards. Whoever starts will have a wealth of talent at the “skill” the bottom up.” Linebacker J a c q u e s positions, including what may Boudreaux and safety Corey be the best wide-out threesome Turner combined for 17 starts in the Sun Belt in returning and 125 tackles last year and starters Ja’Marcus Bradley (39 are the most experienced hands on what will be a new-look ä See OVERHAULING, page 40 defense, with five defensive backs as its base in a 3-3-5 alignment but with the capability to , flex into other alignments. UR “Those two are solid and give DON’T LET YO us great leadership,” said NaDATE GO TO THE pier, who is looking to Ole Miss GAME WITHOUT transfer Garrald McDowell at FLOWERS!!! defensive end and juco product Lorenzo McCaskill at linebacker to become instant playmakers. The defense will also be bolstered by former receiver Michael Jacquet moving to cornerback, a position where Roberts feels he can be an NFL prospect. There are not as many quesTHE TOWNE CENTER • 225-383-8383 tions offensively, except for the 121 Bass Pro Blvd • 225-665-5181 one big one. Scotlandville prodDenham Springs www.rickeyheromans.com uct Levi Lewis had his redshirt

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UL-LAFAYETTE: Roster # Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Cl. 2 Ja’Marcus Bradley WR 6-1 195 Jr. 2 Lorenzo McCaskill LB 6-0 202 So. 3 Ashton Johnson RB 5-10 209 Jr. 4 Raymond Calais RB 5-9 180 Jr. 4 Kris Moncrief LB 6-1 250 Fr. 6 Quentin Gibson QB 6-3 214 Jr. 6 Corey Turner DB 6-1 204 Sr. 7 Ferrod Gardner LB 6-2 215 Jr. 7 Andre Nunez QB 6-3 205 Sr. 8 Garrald McDowell DE 6-2 259 Sr. 8 Dion Ray QB 6-0 215 Jr. 9 Kamar Greenhouse DB 6-1 175 Jr. 9 Trey Ragas RB 5-11 227 So. 10 Matt Barnes TE 6-3 255 Sr. 10 Kendall Johnson DB 6-0 192 Sr. 11 Wesley Blazek QB 6-3 192 Fr. 11 Michael Jacquet III DB 6-2 201 Jr. 13 Ryheem Malone WR 5-9 187 Sr. 13 Vince Thomas DB 6-0 201 Sr. 15 Bennie Higgins DE 6-0 266 Jr. 15 Elijah Mitchell RB 5-11 221 So. 16 Percy Butler DB 6-0 190 Fr. 17 Levi Lewis QB 5-11 185 So. 17 Chauncey Manac LB 6-3 252 So. 18 Asjlin Washington DB 6-0 177 Fr. 18 Jalen Williams WR 6-3 221 So. 19 Eric Garror DB 5-9 180 Fr. 19 Kadon Harrison WR 6-3 188 R-Fr. 21 Keenan Barnes WR 6-3 208 Sr. 21 Christian Waller DB 5-10 173 Fr. 22 Daijuane Dorsey DB 6-1 180 So. 22 Earnest Patterson WR 5-7 155 Sr. 23 Jordan Cordova LB 6-0 210 Fr. 23 Jordan Wright RB 5-11 212 Jr. 24 Chris Smith RB 5-9 200 Fr. 24 Bralen Trahan DB 6-0 188 So. 25 Jamal Bell WR 6-0 170 So. 25 Deuce Wallace DB 5-11 196 Jr. 26 Blair Brooks DB 6-1 200 So. 26 Lenard Calloway RB 5-10 188 Sr. 27 Caleb Glenn DB 6-2 190 R-Fr. 28 Ja’len Johnson DB 6-3 212 R-Fr. 29 Koa Haynes DB 6-0 180 Sr. 30 Devon Pauley WR 5-8 165 Fr. 30 Julius Perkins DB 6-3 210 Sr. 31 Alonzo Brown LB 6-0 213 Jr. 33 Michael Orphey Jr. WR 5-10 185 Fr. 33 Jamarius Williams DB 6-3 208 Sr. 34 Brayden Bailey LB 6-2 210 Sr. 34 Tyler Clark WR 5-10 208 Fr. 35 Chaiziere Malbrue LB 6-2 213 Sr. 36 Kaleb Carter WR 6-0 180 Fr. 36 Kam Pedescleaux DB 5-9 180 Fr. 37 Errol Brown DB 6-1 195 Sr. 38 Terik Miller DB 6-0 215 Jr. 39 Peyton Aucoin TE 6-5 258 So. 39 Carlos Robinson DE 6-3 236 Jr. 40 Kenneth Almendares K 6-1 188 Fr. 41 Calvin Linden K 6-0 221 Sr. 43 Jourdon Quibodeaux LB 6-1 210 R-Fr. 44 Chandler Wachholtz LB 6-1 236 Jr. 45 Keon Jean-Batiste LB 6-4 238 Fr. 46 Kyle Pfau K 5-11 Sr. 47 Cameron Solomon DB 5-11 201 So. 49 Paul Boudreaux LS 5-10 231 R-Fr. 50 Robert Hunt OL 6-5 336 Jr. 50 Andre Jones LB 6-5 225 So. 51 Ken Jones LB 6-2 230 R-Fr. 52 Tamir Bryant DL 6-1 238 Fr. 53 Tanner Wiggins LB 6-4 227 So. 54 Sammy Ochoa DL 6-1 295 Fr. 55 Tommy Whitted LB 6-1 225 Jr. 57 Jackson Ladner LS 6-0 228 Sr. 58 Justin Middleton LB 6-1 225 Sr. 59 Jacques Boudreaux LB 6-1 228 Jr. 61 Cole Prudhomme OL 6-3 292 Jr. 63 Spencer Gardner OL 6-5 270 R-Fr. 64 Shane Vallot OL 6-0 295 R-Fr. 65 Carlos Rubio OL 6-5 250 R-Fr. 66 Rico Robinson OL 6-5 307 Jr. 67 Ken Marks OL 6-4 303 Jr. 69 Caden Cunningham OL 6-0 266 Jr. 70 Staten Wade OL 6-5 301 Jr. 71 Akkai Ward OL 6-3 310 So. 72 Max Yarbrough OL 6-4 273 Fr. 73 David Hudson OL 6-1 280 R-Fr. 74 Max Mitchell OL 6-6 293 Fr. 75 Kevin Dotson OL 6-4 303 Jr. 76 Kendall Baker OL 6-5 307 So. 77 Adrian Goodacre OL 6-4 311 Sr. 78 Luke Junkunc OL 6-4 270 Fr. 79 Kordell Brewster OL 6-2 270 Sr. 81 Alex Allen TE 6-0 215 Jr. 82 Da’ron Williams WR 6-2 187 So. 83 Pat Hughes WR 6-4 190 R-Fr. 84 LeRoy Franklin WR 5-11 180 So. 85 Calif Gossett WR 6-5 188 So. 86 Pearse Migl TE 6-1 240 Fr. 87 Chris Turner TE 6-3 243 Jr. 88 Johnny Lumpkin TE 6-6 262 So. 89 Hunter Bergeron TE 6-5 240 R-Fr. 90 Timaje Porter DL 6-2 335 Fr. 92 Rhys Byrns P 6-0 175 Fr. 93 Masry Mapieu DL 6-4 294 Fr. 94 Zi’Yon Hill DT 6-2 286 R-Fr. 95 Andre Riley LB 6-2 205 Fr. 96 Malcolm Rollins DE 6-3 245 R-Fr. 97 Andre Landry TE 6-5 237 R-Fr. 98 LaDarrius Kidd DT 6-3 317 Sr. 99 Tra’Vontae Booker DT 6-4 304 Jr.

Hometown (previous school) Ackerman, Miss. (Choctaw County) Detroit (Holmes CC) Baton Rouge (Woodlawn) Breaux Bridge (Cecilia) Raleigh, Miss. (Raleigh) Marrero (Archbishop Shaw) New Orleans (Miller-McCoy) Dayton, Ohio (Trotwood-Madison) Pacoima, Calif. (Sierra Canyon) Covington (Ole Miss) New Orleans (Helen Cox) Marksville (Marksville) New Orleans (Archbishop Shaw) Groesbeck (High) Texas Lafayette (Nevada) Lafayette (Teurlings Catholic) Beaumont, Texas (Central) Houston (Bellaire) New Orleans (De La Salle) Greenwood (High) Miss. Erath (Erath) Plaquemine Plaquemine Baton Rouge (Scotlandville) Homerville, Ga. (Garden City CC) Houston (C.E. King) Opelousas (Westminster Christian) Mobile, Ala. (McGill Toolen) Port Arthur, Texas (Memorial) Madison, Miss. (Central) League City, Texas (Clear Springs) Richmond, Va. (Meadowbrook) Brenham (High) Texas Kinder (Kinder) Pearl (High) Miss. Louisville, Miss. (Nanih Waiya) Lafayette (Acadiana) Brownsboro (High) Texas Lafayette (St. Thomas More) Thibodaux (Thibodaux) Houma (Covenant Christian) Lafayette (Teurlings Catholic) Morgan City (Central Catholic) Covina, Calif. (Bishop Amat) Lake Charles (Barbe) Houston (Summer Creek) Magee (High) Miss. Alexandria (Alexandria) Farmerville (Union Parish) St. George, Utah (Desert Hills) Alexandria (Peabody Magnet) Carencro (Westminster Academy) Cecilia (Cecilia) Houston (Manvel) New Orleans (St. Augustine) Pensacola, Fla. (Escambia) Metairie (Brother Martin) Monroe (Ouachita) Clute, Texas (Brazoswood) River Ridge (John Curtis) Lafayette (Acadiana) Carlsbad, Calif. (La Costa Canyon) Lafayette (Carencro) Klein, Texas (Oklahoma) Ashdown (High) Ark. Harahan (Brother Martin) Burkeville (High) Texas Angie (Varnado) Lafayette (Westminster Christian) New Orleans (Lusher) Morgan City (Central Catholic) Lake Travis (High) Texas Orlando, Fla. (Winter Park) New Orleans (De La Salle) Mansfield (High) Texas New Orleans (Holy Cross) Eunice (Eunice) Opelousas (Opelousas Catholic) Lafayette (Comeaux) Alexandria (Alexandria Senior) Pensacola, Fla. (Catholic) Beaumont, Texas (Central) Lafayette (Acadiana) Texarkana, Ark. (Reedley JC) Brusly (Brusly) Friendswood (High) Texas Lafayette (Lafayette) Monroe (Neville) Plaquemine (Plaquemine) McCalla, Ala. (McAdory) Carthage (High) Texas Houston, Texas (Strake Jesuit) San Brnrdno, Calif. (San Gorgonio) Slidell (Northshore) Napoleonville (Assmuption) New Orleans (Brother Martin) Richmond, Texas (George Ranch) Pensacola (High) Fla. Welsh (Welsh) Lafayette (Lafayette) Atlanta, Ga. (Hutchinson CC) Lafayette (St. Thomas More) Grand Bay, Ala. (Theodore) Melbourne, Australia (Padua Col.) York (High) Neb. New Iberia (Catholic) Plaquemine (Plaquemine) New Orleans (Archbishop Shaw) Lafayette (Acadiana) Gulfport, Miss. (Harrison Central) Jackson (East Feliciana)

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UL-LAFAYETTE: Season preview/schedule analysis GAME 1: GRAMBLING

GAME 2: AT MISS. ST.

GAME 3: COASTAL CAROLINA

GAME 4: AT ALABAMA

GAME 5: AT TEXAS STATE

GAME 6: NEW MEXICO STATE

WHEN: Sept. 1 | 6 p.m. WHERE: Cajun Field ABOUT GRAMBLING: The Tigers have lost only five games combined in the past three seasons. But to continue that success, coach Broderick Fobbs has to find a quarterback to replace two-time SWAC Player of the Year DeVante Kincade at quarterback. Alabama transfer DeSherrius Flowers is the likely featured back. PATH TO THE W: The Cajuns never lost to an FCS foe in Mark Hudspeth’s seven seasons, going 7-0 and winning by an average 4617 score. THE ADVOCATE SAYS … UL-Lafayette 34, Grambling 17 (1-0)

WHEN: Sept. 15 | 6:30 p.m. WHERE: Starkville, Miss. ABOUT STATE: Some are calling this year’s State team the school’s most talented ever. The Dogs have a big-time playmaker in quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. And the defense could be even better if the thin linebacker corps remains healthy. Jeffery Simmons provides a true attacker on a talented defensive line. PATH TO THE W: A rough one. Both State’s offensive and defensive lines will be a big test, especially with the Cajuns’ lack of up-front defensive depth. THE ADVOCATE SAYS … Miss. State 41, UL-Lafayette 14 (1-1)

WHEN: Sept. 22 | TBA WHERE: Cajun Field ABOUT COASTAL: The biggest news for the Chanticleers is the return of head coach Joe Moglia, the former TD Ameritrade boss who sat out with health issues. Coastal was a muchimproved team in 2017, with five of its eight losses by eight points or fewer. The offense returns virtually intact, but defense is a big question mark. PATH TO THE W: The Cajuns should be able to attack an inexperienced defensive front and win their Sun Belt opener for the 10th time in 11 seasons. THE ADVOCATE SAYS … UL-Lafayette 31, Coastal 17 (2-1, 1-0)

WHEN: Sept. 29 | TBA WHERE: Tuscaloosa, Ala. ABOUT ALABAMA: What’s there to say? The defending national champions are loaded with front-line talent as usual, but depth may be more of an issue this year than in the past. Only two regular starters — end Isaiah Buggs and linebacker Anfernee Jennings — are back defensively. Two-time 1,000yard rusher Damien Harris leads a deep backfield. PATH TO THE W: Absolutely everything has to go right for the Cajuns and absolutely everything has to go wrong for the Crimson Tide. THE ADVOCATE SAYS … Alabama 45, UL-Lafayette 10 (2-2)

WHEN: Oct. 6 | TBA WHERE: San Marcos, Texas ABOUT TEXAS STATE: Pressure is mounting on third-year coach Everett Withers, who is 4-20 in two years. The offense was anemic last year, scoring 14 or fewer points seven times, and will have a new quarterback and receiver corps. The defense gave up 170 points in the final four games. PATH TO THE W: If ULLafayette’s defense solidifies early in the year, this one won’t be close either, getting the Cajuns to 6-0 in Sun Belt games against Texas State. THE ADVOCATE SAYS … UL-Lafayette 42, Texas State 20 (3-2, 2-0)

WHEN: Oct. 13 | TBA WHERE: Cajun Field ABOUT NMSU: The Aggies are independents in their first season after being booted from the streamlined Sun Belt. The Aggies went from the nation’s worst defense to one of the fiercest, ranking second in sacks nationally last year, while safety Shamad Lomax forced seven turnovers last year. PATH TO THE W: The Aggies defense could be disruptive to a front that may not have a senior starter. But the Cajuns defense can shine in what could be the lowest scoring game of the year. THE ADVOCATE SAYS … UL-Lafayette 24, New Mexico State 14 (4-2)

OVERHAULING Continued from page 38

catches, 475 yards, two touchdowns), Keenan Barnes (37 for 539, two touchdowns) and Ryheem Malone (44 for 676, four touchdowns). The Cajuns also return second-team all-league running back Trey Ragas, who rushed for 813 yards, a 5.7 average and nine scores as a redshirt freshman, and Elijah Mitchell is expected back at full speed after a foot injury halted a season in which he rushed for 257 yards and four scores in four games. “We have a lot of guys that can be effective with the ball in their hands,” Napier said. “Quarterback is unique because one guy gets to play, but both can play winning football. The good thing for our team is, we still have competition for every position on the team.” The Cajuns were dealt a blow when returning kicker Stevie Artigue had offseason ACL surgery, leaving those chores on the foot of Calvin Linden and Oklahoma transfer Kyle Pfau, while freshman Rhys Byrns continues a tradition of Australian products handling punting chores.

GOOD LUCK RAGIN’ CAJUNS!

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UL-LAFAYETTE: Schedule analysis GAME 7: AT APP. STATE

GAME 8: ARKANSAS STATE

GAME 9: AT TROY

GAME 10: GEORGIA STATE

GAME 11: SOUTH ALABAMA

GAME 12: AT UL-MONROE

WHEN: Oct. 20 | TBA WHERE: Boone, N.C. ABOUT APPALACHIAN STATE: The Mountaineers, who went 8-4 last season, have to replace four-year QB starter Taylor Lamb, but have skill and experience at every other skill spot and a solid offensive line. A defense that allowed only 30 points in the last four games combined could be just as good, with LB Anthony Flory. PATH TO THE W: If the Cajuns can pressure the new QB and find a way to slow down talented running back Jalin Moore, they could keep it close. THE ADVOCATE SAYS … Appalachian State 27, UL-Lafayette 13 (4-3, 2-1)

WHEN: Oct. 27 | TBA WHERE: Cajun Field ABOUT ARKANSAS STATE: The Red Wolves could be a contender for the Group of Five’s New Year’s bowl spot, because of an offense led by an experienced group of skill players. Justice Hansen is a two-way threat at quarterback. The defense needs some work with national sack leader Javon Rolland-Jones gone and the secondary badly depleted. PATH TO THE W: The Cajuns will have to find a way to slow down A-State’s hurryup offense, something they failed miserably at last year in a televised 47-3 loss. THE ADVOCATE SAYS … Arkansas State 41, UL-Lafayette 21 (4-4, 2-2)

WHEN: Nov. 3 | TBA WHERE: Troy, Ala. ABOUT TROY: Troy again boasts the quickest and most athletic squad in the Sun Belt. If the Trojans can make a quarterback out of the athletic Kaleb Barker or Sawyer Smith, they’re a good pick for the East title. Wideout Deondre Douglas is a game-changer. Troy’s defense was the league’s best last year (112 tackles for losses) and returns LB Hunter Reese and nose tackle Trevon Sanders. PATH TO THE W: The Cajuns offense will have to avoid negative plays and can’t get behind the chains. THE ADVOCATE SAYS … Troy 35, UL-Lafayette 21 (4-5, 2-3)

WHEN: Nov. 10 | TBA WHERE: Cajun Field ABOUT GEORGIA STATE: The Panthers went from 3-9 to their first-ever bowl appearance in one season under first-year coach Shawn Elliott, surprising many in the Sun Belt. Georgia State should be solid up front defensively, but CB Jerome Smith is the only returnee in the secondary. The kicking game needs a huge upgrade. PATH TO THE W: The Cajuns haven’t played the Panthers since 2015. They’ve never lost to GSU in three games, all high-scoring affairs. Expect another shootout. THE ADVOCATE SAYS … UL-Lafayette 38, GSU 28 (5-5, 3-3)

WHEN: Nov. 17 | TBA WHERE: Cajun Field ABOUT SOUTH ALABAMA: The program took a hit when returning QB Dallas Davis left late in spring drills. Otherwise, USA is solid in the skill positions with Tra Minter at running back. The linebacker corps is the best part of an improving defense, led by the aptlynamed Bull Barge. The Jags struggled to generate quarterback pressure in ’17. PATH TO THE W: The Jaguars were vulnerable against mobile quarterbacks last year, and Levi Lewis ran for 129 yards and threw for two scores in a 19-14 win. THE ADVOCATE SAYS … UL-Lafayette 27, S. Alabama 21 (6-5, 4-3)

WHEN: Nov. 24 | 2 p.m. WHERE: Monroe ABOUT UL-MONROE: The third year under coach Matt Viator figures to be the best yet, finally with a fully stocked offense. Caleb Evans bedeviled the Cajuns last year with a five-TD game and has eight other offensive starters surrounding him. Former Alabama signee Derrick Gore could have a breakout year at running back. PATH TO THE W: ULLafayette had won eight of nine meetings before last year’s barnburner, but stopping the Warhawks offense is a big challenge. THE ADVOCATE SAYS … UL-Monroe 41, UL-Lafayette 31 (6-6, 4-4)

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SUN BELT CONFERENCE: Season preview THE ADVOCATE’S PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH EAST DIVISION

WEST DIVISION

1. TROY: The Trojans should be dominant on defense and are the league’s most physically gifted team, but they also must find a QB. 2. APPALACHIAN STATE: Some surprising losses marred ’17, but the Mountaineers will be solid. It’ll come down to a season-finale home game with Troy. 3. GEORGIA SOUTHERN: Two late-season wins, 18 returning starters and the league’s top freshman recruiting class have hopes soaring. 4. GEORGIA STATE: The Panthers got a taste of success last year, but a second straight bowl will depend on finding offensive playmakers. 5. COASTAL CAROLINA: No question the Chanticleers improved during the season, but they’re still a year or two away from title contention.

1. ARKANSAS STATE: Some are picking the Red Wolves as the Group of Five’s top-tier bowl team. Great skill players, solid defense. 2. UL-MONROE: The Warhawks should be able to score with anyone. But a porous defense will hurt against some Sun Belt offenses. 3. UL-LAFAYETTE: New coach Billy Napier brings a spark and the Cajuns will be better, but they still have a lot of unanswered defensive questions. 4. SOUTH ALABAMA: Starting QB Dallas Davis’ mid-spring departure didn’t help, but the Jaguars also have to add some offensive firepower. 5. TEXAS STATE: The Bobcats have major questions on both sides of the ball, and coach Everett Withers is already under fire.

NOW TRENDING

TRENDING UP: UL-MONROE

Coach Matt Viator has ULM on an upswing and will field one of the Sun Belt’s most dangerous offenses. Dual-threat quarterback Caleb Evans accounted for 3,451 yards as a sophomore, and he’s surrounded by playmakers and a solid front. And the defense has to be better — ULM scored over 50 four times last year, losing once and barely winning the other three.

TRENDING DOWN: TEXAS STATE

The Bobcats’ only wins last year were over FCS member Houston Baptist and transitioning Coastal Carolina. Prospects aren’t for much more this year with only 12 seniors and lingering offensive questions — after TSU was among the nation’s worst offenses in ’17. TSU allowed 170 points in the final four games.

PICK TO CLICK: ARKANSAS STATE QB JUSTICE HANSEN

Justice was served regularly last year, with Hansen throwing 487 times and completing 62.6 percent and over 330 yards per game. He may top last year’s 37 touchdown passes. The senior should be well protected by a solid front and a beneficial schedule that doesn’t include Troy.

Sun Belt Conference schedules and key games on Page 45

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Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Let’s make it a Win...

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THE WARHAWKS LAST SEASON: 4-8 (4-4 Sun Belt) COACH: Matt Viator (third season, 8-16) LEADER: The Warhawks were encouraged by what they saw out of quarterback Caleb Evans in his sophomore year, when he threw for 2,868 yards and 17 touchdowns. A preseason AllSun Belt second-team selection means expectations are even higher as a junior. RETURNING: The most valuable returner in Monroe? The offense. The entire offense. The Warhawks return 9 of 11 starters from a 2017 team that finished second in the league in both scoring and total yards. BREAKOUT: Derrick Gore was middle of the pack in his first year after transferring from Alabama in terms of rushing production (48.8 yards per game). But with so many weapons around him, defenses could easily lose track of him, opening the door for big numbers. ISSUE: ULM is still unproven. The Warhawks have seen massive improvement under Viator so far, but reaching into the next level of the Sun Belt is a big step to take. OUTLOOK: If ULM is ever going to challenge some of the league’s top programs, this is the year. A powerful offense and a rejuvenated spirit around Monroe has all but washed away the horrors of the preViator era.

SCHEDULE Date Opponent Time 8.30 Southeastern 7 p.m. 9.8 at Southern Miss 6 p.m. 9.15 at Texas A&M 6:30 p.m./SEC 9.22 Troy* 6 p.m. 9.29 at Georgia State* TBA 10.6 at Ole Miss TBA 10.13 at Coastal Carolina* TBA 10.20 Texas State* 6 p.m. 11.3 Ga. Southern* 2 p.m. 11.10 at South Alabama* TBA 11.17 at Arkansas State* TBA 11.24 UL-Lafayette* 2 p.m. *­­—Sun Belt Conference games

UL-MONROE

Warhawks starting to take flight Viator has steadily lifted ULM in each of his first two seasons

BY MIKE GEGENHEIMER Special to The Advocate

At this point there are no more philosophies to be taught or personnel to be installed. The product seen when Louisiana-Monroe takes the field against Southeastern Louisiana for the 2018 season opener on Aug. 30 is wholly that of Matt Viator. After two years of rebuilding — and decidedly improving — the ULM brand, Viator has the Warhawks running the way he wants them. It is, in all facets, Viator’s program. So far, that’s resulted in an improvement each of the past two seasons, with ULM going from the 1-7 conference record Viator inherited to 3-5 in 2016 to 4-4 last year that tied the Warhawks for fifth in the Sun Belt Conference. They were even able to beat in-state rival Louisiana-Lafayette for the first time since 2013. Possibly more impressive was the toppling of Appalachian State. But 2018 could be the final step in determining if Viator — a coach with a reputation for building programs into consistent winners — can break into the upper echelon of the Sun Belt. “What takes time is that trust between coaches and players and getting the system in and getting them to buy into it. I think they have,” Viator said. “It’s been a lot of fun. Judging by the summers — this is the third summer — we’re so much farther along now than this point two summers ago. It’s been a lot of fun watching them.” Not much remains of the dark days before Viator arrived from McNeese State. In the past two seasons, Viator brought in a new coaching staff, upgraded facilities and went through the process of bringing in his own players. Only 24 members of the current roster played for Louisiana-Monroe in 2015 before he arrived. Senior outside linebacker David Griffith was never

ADVOCATE FILE PHOTO BY LESLIE WESTBROOK

Louisiana-Monroe quarterback Caleb Evans had a breakout season as a sophomore, fueling many to believe the Warhawks are on the upswing. The change of attitude, not only inside the program but also in the fan base, has been stark. Recruiting is easier, ticket sales are up and even something as basic walking into practice every day is more enjoyable than it was just a few years ago. “It’s just a lot of things that weren’t getting done at that time are getting done now,” Griffith said. “Everything (Viator) said he was going to do for us has been done. He’s working to get us brand new, stateof-the-art equipment, the best nutrition plan he can get us, the best equipment, the best training. … They aren’t the most important things, but those are AP FILE PHOTO things that help your team be successful.” ULM coach Matt Viator It’s been 13 years since ULM won its only Sun Belt chamashamed of playing for the los- pionship in its 17 seasons as a ing Warhawks back then, but member, sharing the title with that doesn’t mean it was much Louisiana-Lafayette and Arkanfun, either. sas State in 2005.

This season may be the Warhawks’ best chance at retaking the top of the standings. They were picked to finish second in the Western Division behind Arkansas State. And with the new addition of a championship game this season, ULM doesn’t have to worry about competing with Appalachian State and Troy on the other side of the conference until December. But despite all of those improvements, Viator isn’t settling for anything he’s seen so far. “We have to be more consistent week to week in terms of what we’re doing as opposed to what we did last year,” Viator said. “When you watch us, I don’t think we competed every Saturday at the level you have to compete at. If you’re going to be one of the top teams in any league, you have to have that competitive spirit.” Follow Mike Gegenheimer on Twitter, @Mike_Gegs.


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The Advocate

SCHEDULES September 1 at Penn St., 2:30 p.m. 8 at Charlotte, 5 p.m. 15 Southern Miss, 2:30 p.m. 22 Gardner-Webb 29 South Alabama October 9 at Arkansas St., 7 p.m. 20 Louisiana-Lafayette 25 at Ga. Southern, 6:30 p.m. November 3 at Coastal Carolina 10 at Texas St. 17 Georgia St. 24 Troy

ARKANSAS ST.

1 SE Missouri, 6 p.m. 8 at Alabama, 2:30 p.m. 15 at Tulsa, 6 p.m. 22 UNLV 29 at Georgia Southern October 9 Appalachian St., 7 p.m. 18 Georgia St., 6:30 p.m. 27 at Louisiana-Lafayette November 3 South Alabama 10 at Coastal Carolina 17 Louisiana-Monroe 24 at Texas St.

COASTAL CAROLINA

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TROY

ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO

Arkansas State quarterback Justice Hansen GEORGIA SOUTHERN

September 1 S.C. State, 5 p.m. 8 UMass, 5 p.m. 15 at Clemson, 2:30 p.m. 29 Arkansas St. October 6 South Alabama 11 at Texas St., 6:30 p.m. 20 at N. Mexico St., 5 p.m. 25 App. St., 6:30 p.m. November 3 at Louisiana-Monroe 10 Troy 17 at Coastal Carolina 24 at Georgia St.

GEORGIA ST.

September 1 at S. Carolina, noon 8 UAB, 7 p.m. 15 Campbell, 7 p.m. 22 at UL-Lafayette 29 at Troy October 13 UL-Monroe 20 at Massachusetts 27 at Georgia St. November 3 Appalachian St. 10 Arkansas St. 17 Georgia Southern 23 at South Alabama

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uck GoodCLajuns! Ragin

SUN BELT CONFERENCE: Season preview/schedules

APPALACHIAN ST.

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August/September Aug. 30 Kennesaw St., 6 p.m. 8 at N.C. State, 11:30 a.m. 14 at Memphis, 6 p.m. 22 W. Michigan 29 Louisiana-Monroe October 4 at Troy, 6:30 p.m. 18 at Ark. St., 6:30 p.m. 27 Coastal Carolina November 3 Texas St. 10 at Louisiana-Lafayette 17 at Appalachian St. 24 Georgia Southern

September 1 Louisiana Tech, 6 p.m. 8 at Oklahoma St., 7 p.m. 15 Texas St., 6 p.m. 22 at Memphis, 7 p.m. 29 at Appalachian St. October 6 at Georgia Southern 13 Alabama St. 23 Troy, 7 p.m. November 3 at Arkansas St. 10 Louisiana-Monroe 17 at Louisiana-Lafayette 23 Coastal Carolina September 1 at Rutgers, 11 a.m. 8 Texas Southern, 6 p.m. 15 at S. Alabama, 6 p.m. 22 at UTSA, 6 p.m. October 6 Louisiana-Lafayette 11 Ga. Southern, 6:30 p.m. 20 at Louisiana-Monroe 27 New Mexico St. November 3 at Georgia St. 10 Appalachian St. 17 at Troy 24 Arkansas St.

FOUR KEY GAMES

BOISE STATE AT TROY

SEPT. 1: Forget playing the Power Five leagues and Troy’s win at LSU last year. This game will be huge in the Group of Five rankings, both for the Sun Belt and for the Trojans, who lost at Boise State 24-13 last season.

APPALACHIAN STATE AT ARKANSAS STATE

OCT. 9: It’s hard to believe that the two teams that have dominated league play — a combined 27-5 in the past two seasons — haven’t played each other since 2015. The winner may get home field in the title game.

Classic

UL-LAFAYETTE

SOUTH ALABAMA

TEXAS ST.

September 1 Boise St., 5 p.m. 8 Florida A&M, 6 p.m. 15 at Nebraska, 11 a.m. 22 at Louisiana-Monroe 29 Coastal Carolina October 4 Georgia St., 6:30 p.m. 13 at Liberty, 1 p.m. 23 at S. Alabama, 7 p.m. November 3 Louisiana-Lafayette 10 at Georgia Southern 17 Texas St. 24 at App. St. September 1 Grambling, 6 p.m. 15 at Miss. St., 6:30 p.m. 22 Coastal Carolina 29 at Alabama October 6 at Texas St. 13 New Mexico St. 20 at Appalachian St. 27 Arkansas St. November 3 at Troy 10 Georgia St. 17 South Alabama 24 at ULM, 2 p.m.

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UL-MONROE

August/September Aug. 30 SE Louisiana, 7 p.m. 8 at Southern Miss., 6 p.m. 15 at Texas A&M, 6:30 p.m. 22 Troy, 6 p.m. 29 at Georgia St. October 6 at Mississippi 13 at Coastal Carolina 20 Texas St., 6 p.m. November 3 Georgia Southern, 2 p.m. 10 at South Alabama 17 at Arkansas St. 24 Louisiana-Lafayette, 2 p.m.

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ARKANSAS STATE AT UL-LAFAYETTE

OCT. 27: The Red Wolves figure to be among the Sun Belt’s elite. If the Cajuns can beat Coastal Carolina and Texas State early, ADVOCATE FILE PHOTO this game may determine if they’re ready to be a factor. Troy cornerback Blace Brown

TROY AT APPALACHIAN STATE

NOV. 24: A lot should be riding on this regular-season finale including the East Division title, a berth in the Sun Belt championship game, a better bowl berth and a possible unbeaten league season. Dan McDonald

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THE LIONS LAST SEASON: 6-5 (6-3 SLC) COACH: Frank Scelfo (first year) LEADER: Senior running back Julius Maracalin never got going last year with a nagging knee injury that slowed him down all season. Still, he ran for 328 yards on 82 carries. The Lions have let him rest all spring and summer in the hopes he’s ready to return to the top of the depth chart. RETURNING: If Maracalin isn’t 100 percent by the start of the season, SLU will sure be glad sophomore Marcus Cooper is coming back. Cooper was a breakout star last year, pacing the Lions to the third-most rushing yards per game in the FCS. BREAKOUT: Whoever emerges as the starting quarterback has the chance to be a breakout star. New head coach Frank Scelfo has experience coaching some notable arms in the game (Blake Bortles in Jacksonville; Nick Foles and Tom Savage at Arizona and Patrick Ramsey, J.P. Losman and Shaun King at Tulane) so the winner will get the full brunt of his knowledge. ISSUE: The Lions have little experience returning on defense, losing their entire starting linebacker corps and all but Shamar Busby in the secondary. OUTLOOK: This could be a learning year for the Lions all around. A new coach, (possibly) a new quarterback and a largely new defense leaves plenty of uncertainties. Expect some ups and downs with an eye on the future.

SCHEDULE Date Opponent Time 8.30 at UL-Monroe 7 p.m. 9.8 at LSU 6 p.m./ESPN2 or U 9.15 Central Arkansas* 7 p.m. 9.22 at Lamar* 6 p.m. 9.29 Northwestern St.* 7 p.m. 10.6 at Incarnate Word* 4 p.m. 10.13 Houston Baptist* 4 p.m. 10.20 Abilene Christian* 7 p.m. 10.27 at Sam Houston St.* TBA 11.3 McNeese St.* 7 p.m. 11.15 at Nicholls St.* 6 p.m. *­­—Southland Conference games

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SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA

SLU takes a Frank approach Scelfo, a career assistant, gets his first top job, and the years taught him well BY MIKE GEGENHEIMER Special to The Advocate

HAMMOND — If there’s one aspect of being a head coach Frank Scelfo wasn’t expecting, it’s the sheer amount of administrative work he has to do. More than three decades as an assistant coach at the college or professional levels and Scelfo still had to adjust to just how much of his time is spent away from football. Gone are the days when he could lock himself in his office 15 hours at a time watching game film. Now there are phone calls and meetings and organizing facility upgrades and paperwork and grades and then, at the end of the day, more phone calls. On the surface, Scelfo knew it would be different. He’s certainly been around long enough to see what the head job is like. But there’s nothing like experiencing the role of the head coach firsthand. After all these years, Scelfo is finally getting his shot. “What was great about Jacksonville is that I got in there at 5:30 every morning and started watching film,” Scelfo said of his time as a quarterbacks coach in the NFL. “That’s all you’re doing, and you leave at 10 o’clock at night and all you’ve done is football. “Then when you got back to college, it was the same thing but you had recruiting and academics and you were like, ‘OK, we’ll do it.’ Now as a head coach there’s even less football, because you still have to do the recruiting and academics but now you have more administrative stuff.” It’s been 32 years since Scelfo was a head coach, and even then it was at River Oaks High School, 10 years before he would take his first college coaching position and 27 years before he would go to the pros. The job isn’t the same as it was back then. The sport isn’t the same, for that matter. Scelfo has been around for so long he remembers recruiting several of the coaches he’ll see on opposite sidelines this fall.

PHOTO PROVIDED BY SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA UNIVERSITY

Southeastern Louisiana coach Frank Scelfo has a strong history of developing offenses in college and the NFL. He became a college head coach for the first time in January. In fact, his son, Anthony, is the quarterbacks coach at Northwestern State. The past 30 years have built a strong foundation. Scelfo’s rise to the top of Southeastern’s program has brought him through a long line of successful head coaches he’s been able to slowly gather advice from. The most important person among his mentors is younger brother Chris Scelfo, now the offensive line coach at Houston. The brothers worked together for eight years at Tulane, where Frank was offensive coordinator when Chris was head coach. It was an important time in Frank Scelfo’s development, when he would take extra responsibilities in preparation for his current situation. “When you’re a coordinator, you’ve got five guys with you, two (graduate assistants); you have to make sure you have the medical reports, the academics, the equipment, the organization, the game plan,” Frank Scelfo said.

“Everything I’m doing, it’s not the first time I’ve done it.” Scelfo isn’t revealing much about Southeastern’s on-thefield work before the Lions’ season opener at ULM on Aug. 30. All through spring practice and going into preseason camp, his favorite word was “evaluating” — evaluating players, evaluating coaches, evaluating schemes. Scelfo inherits a beneficial situation, as SLU comes off one of its best seasons on offense, leading the Southland with 283.1 yards per game rushing and finishing third in scoring. That production is expected to continue with the return of running back Julius Maracalin to full health. The biggest issue is deciding which quarterback will lead that offense, but Scelfo’s specialty is quarterbacks. At Tulane, he lifted four quarterbacks into the NFL, including first-round draft picks Patrick Ramsey and J.P. Losman. At Arizona, he coached last year’s Super Bowl MVP, Nick Foles, and with the Jaguars he coached Blake Bortles in his

SLC PRESEASON POLL Team (first-place votes) 1. Sam Houston State (10) 2. Nicholls State (6) 3. Central Arkansas (5) 4. McNeese State (1) 5. Southeastern Louisiana 6. Stephen F. Austin 7. Abilene Christian 8. Northwestern State 9. Incarnate Word 10. Lamar 11. Houston Baptist

Total 187 173 170 159 119 90 89 86 53 52 32

rookie season. “We had Patrick Ramsey and J.P. Losman (at Tulane), and we said we didn’t have a starter,” Scelfo said. “Patrick was the starter the year before, but J.P. is coming in and he’s good. At some point in time, it clicked with the team, it clicked with us as a staff that he’s our guy. “You’re just going to know when it happens.” Follow Mike Gegenheimer on Twitter, @Mike_Gegs.


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THE COLONELS LAST SEASON: 8-4 (7-2 SLC) COACH: Tim Rebowe (fourth season, 16-18) LEADER: Senior center Ryan Hanley is one of 14 preseason All-SLC picks from Nicholls State and the anchor of a veteran offensive line that will be counted on to perform as it did a year ago in front of exciting junior quarterback Chase Fourcade. RETURNING: Fourcade is back to trigger an offense that ranked in the top 20 of two important FCS statistical categories a year ago. The Colonels rushed for 200.3 yards per game to rank 19th nationally and averaged 14.3 yards per completion, good for 16th in the nation. BREAKOUT: Injuries forced sophomore Kyran Irvin to step in at running back, and the former East Ascension quarterback delivered, finishing second in the SLC with 764 yards. He averaged 5.2 yards per carry and 76.4 yards a game, while scoring eight touchdowns. ISSUE: After winning eight games and making the FCS playoffs a year ago, Nicholls won’t be sneaking up on anyone this season. That means a talented and experienced team will face challenges aplenty. OUTLOOK: Three seasons into the Rebowe era, the culture has completely changed in Thibodaux. The Colonels are tabbed to finish second in the SLC, but don’t be shocked if they make a run at the title.

SCHEDULE Date Opponent Time 9.1 at Kansas 6 p.m. 9.8 at Tulane 7 p.m. 9.15 at McNeese St.* 6 p.m. 9.22 Sam Houston St.* 3 p.m. 9.29 Lamar* 3 p.m. 10.6 at Northwestern St.* 6 p.m. 10.13 at Abilene Christian* 2:30 p.m. 10.27 Incarnate Word* 3 p.m. 11.3 at Houston Baptist* 2 p.m. 11.10 Stephen F. Austin* 3 p.m. 11.15 Southeastern* 6 p.m. *­­—Southland Conference games

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NICHOLLS STATE

Building on a breakthrough Steady gains have Colonels in penthouse, earning respect and expectations BY SHELDON MICKLES

smickles@theadvocate.com When Tim Rebowe arrived on the Nicholls campus to take the reins as the Colonels’ new football coach in the fall of 2014, he didn’t bring with him the standard five-year plan to resuscitate the struggling program. At the time, the only number that mattered to Rebowe, the longtime Nicholls and UL-Lafayette assistant, was the 18 consecutive losses the Colonels had endured dating to the 2013 season. “Sometimes, coaches say they have a five-year plan, but I didn’t put a number on it,” he said last month at Southland Conference media day. “I never did sit down and say, ‘Hey, this is where I want to be in year four … this is where I want to be in year five.’ ” While it was a daunting rebuilding job for a first-time college head coach, to be sure, the 55-year-old Rebowe simply set out to work on changing the culture instead of trying to predict the future. As it turned out, Rebowe didn’t need five years — just three. His pursuit of success produced three and five victories in his first two years before an eight-win campaign in 2017 got the Colonels into the FCS playoffs for only the third time in school history. Going into his fourth season, armed with a new fouryear contract extension that was tacked on to the original four-year deal he received in 2014, nothing has changed for Rebowe and the Colonels. Nicholls, which went 8-3 and was ranked 22nd in the regular season before a gut-wrenching 38-31 first-round FCS playoff loss to South Dakota, is only looking forward to bigger and better things. So is the rest of the conference. The Colonels, with 18 starters and 46 letter-winners returning from that 8-4 team of a year ago, were tabbed to finish second in the SLC preseason poll of coaches and sports informa-

ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO BY SAM CRAFT

Nicholls State running back Kyran Irvin, from East Ascension High, ran for 764 yards and eight touchdowns last season.

“The big message to the team is, we’re in some new territory with so many players on the all-conference team and being picked second in the conference. But the message is the same. We have to stay true to who we are and we have to remember what got us to this point.” TIM REBOWE, Nicholls State coach tion directors — right between perennial FCS power Sam Houston State and 2017 league champion Central Arkansas. “Going from three (wins), to five, to eight,” Rebowe said. “Now, you don’t want anything less. You don’t want to go backward.” Nicholls is well equipped to handle the lofty expectations, especially with preseason first-team All-Southland quarterback Chase Fourcade back under center. He is one of a league-high 14 Colonels picked preseason all-conference — including 10 first-teamers. A two-year starter, the junior from Rummel is the catalyst for an offense that has improved dramatically since Rebowe’s arrival. A veteran offensive line that includes two preseason firstteam picks — center Ryan Han-

White and Allen Pittman, along with defensive backs Corey Abraham and Ahmani Martin. All six were first-team picks on the all-SLC preseason team. All-American place-kicker Lorran Fonseca also returns after setting a school single-season record with 19 field goals in 23 tries. Fonseca led the FCS with 1.58 field goals per game and was eighth in field-goal accuracy at 82.6 percent. As loaded as Nicholls is, Rebowe said there is still work to be done. “We have to keep everything in perspective,” he said. “The big message to the team is, we’re in some new territory with so many players on the all-conference team and being picked second in the conference. “But the message is the same. We have to stay true to who we are and we have to remember what got us to this point: working hard, staying humble, staying positive … all those things. We know what our brand is now, and we have to keep playing and playing.”

ley and right tackle Chandler Arceneaux — returns after paving the way for the Colonels to rush for 200.2 yards per game. They also allowed just 20 sacks in 12 games and gave Fourcade enough time to throw for 2,316 yards and 14 touchdowns even though his passing numbers were down slightly from his freshman campaign. Injuries forced Rebowe to use four running backs who combined for seven 100-yard games. All four — Kyran Irvin, Dontrell Taylor, Tahj Smith and Jeremy Rounds — return, and the Colonels get an added boost with Texas A&M transfer Kendall Bussey. Leading receiver Damion Jeanpiere also returns. Defensively, the Colonels are led by defensive tackle Sully Laiche, defensive end Kenny Follow Sheldon Mickles on Dotson, linebackers Hezekiah Twitter, @MicklesAdvocate.


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THE DEMONS LAST SEASON: 4-7 (4-5 SLC) COACH: Brad Laird (first season, 0-0) LEADER: Even though he’s a first-time college head coach, Brad Laird’s energetic and disciplined approach could get Northwestern State on the path to success rather quickly. There is even optimism he can steer the Demons to their first winning season since 2008. RETURNING: The most dynamic Demons back are the defensive end combo of Obinna Iheoma (eight sacks) and Zak Krolczyk (five sacks). In the scheme run by new coordinator Mike Lucas, the former Southeastern head coach, the pair could be more productive as seniors. BREAKOUT: Former four-star recruit and LSU wide receiver Jazz Ferguson, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound junior from West Feliciana High, is now eligible. He immediately gives Demons quarterbacks an immensely talented — and large — target in their up-tempo offense. ISSUE: Depth on the offensive line. Offensive coordinator Brad Smiley‘s high-tempo offense, based on his long track record piling up big numbers at Trinity Valley Community College, will be productive unless there are a few injuries up front. OUTLOOK: Despite their 4-7 record last season, the Demons aren’t a total rebuild. They had late-game leads on the road over FCS playoff entries Sam Houston State and Nicholls and won three of their last four games.

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NORTHWESTERN STATE

Always at home on Front Street Laird’s Natchitoches roots run deep as he takes over at his alma mater

BY SHELDON MICKLES

smickles@theadvocate.com Upon being named head football coach at Northwestern State in November, Brad Laird didn’t really need to have the obligatory introductory news conference. It was more like “hello, again,” for Laird, the school’s all-time passing leader who had spent eight seasons in three stints as its defensive coordinator after making the move to that side of the ball back in 2003. The only thing new for Laird was becoming a college head coach for the first time when athletic director Greg Burke chose him to take over after Jay Thomas’ contract wasn’t renewed in the wake of a 1-6 start last fall. Considering he served as defensive coordinator for a team that won three of its final four games to finish 4-7, the transition was a relatively easy one for Laird. With a good head start on his new job, which helped him hit the ground running without having to completely revamp the program, Laird’s primary task is ending a string of nine consecutive non-winning seasons. “I really looked at it that way,” Laird said, when asked about having a leg up from day one. “Being there last year and seeing how this team ticked, and how it didn’t tick, helped in what we needed to do moving forward. “The thing that was easy for me, moving into this position, was I knew the players. I saw them on the practice field … I saw how they handled adversity. It’s not like I had to come in and learn and build relationships with the guys.”

PROVIDED PHOTO BY NORTHWESTERN STATE

Brad Laird is a first-time head coach at Northwestern State, where he is the school’s all-time leading passer.

The 45-year-old Laird, who starred as the Demons’ quarterback from 1991-95, believes he has the recipe for success with two former college head coaches as his coordinators. Laird said the addition of Brad Smiley, who coached the past 11 seasons at Trinity Valley Community College, and former Southeastern Louisiana head coach Mike Lucas will benefit both sides of the ball — specifically when Smiley installs the Demons’ new up-tempo offense and Lucas implements his swarming, ball-hawking defense. “When I got the job, we had to hit the ground recruiting,” Laird said. “But first and foremost was hiring a staff.

“Bringing in two guys with head coaching experience wasn’t a necessity. But at the end of the day, they sat in the same seat that I’m sitting in now. It’s been great to be able to lean on those guys these last few months.” Smiley takes over an offense that finished in the middle of the SLC in most categories last season, but he will be looking to take the next step with the fast-pace style he used to roll up huge numbers at Trinity Valley. The big question at quarterback may not be one at all. Shelton Eppler, who came with Smiley from Trinity, not surprisingly held the edge over returning starter Clay Holgerson coming out of spring drills to run the Demons’ new offense. Experience at running back and wide receiver, where former LSU signee Jazz Ferguson has added quality depth to the mix, will be pluses for Smiley even though offensive line depth is a question mark. On the defensive side, Lucas’ top returnees are ends Obinna Iheoma and Zak Krolczyk, who combined for 13 sacks a year ago. Lucas returns to the job he held in 2014 before he left to become the defensive coordinator at UL-Lafayette. When he was last with the Demons, his unit created 30 turnovers to rank among the FCS leaders. “I see a lot of similarities in our thought process,” Laird said of how Lucas fits in. “We want to be very aggressive, and that’s the thing he brings along with stressing turnovers. We want to be great tacklers, but we want to create turnovers and that’s what he really emphasized in the spring.”

SCHEDULE

Date Opponent Time 8.30 at Texas A&M 7:30 p.m./SEC 9.8 Grambling 6 p.m. 9.15 at Lamar* 6 p.m. 9.29 at Southeastern* 7 p.m. 10.6 Nicholls St.* 6 p.m. 10.13 Sam Houston St.* 6 p.m. 10.20 at Central Arkansas* 6 p.m. 10.27 Houston Baptist* 6 p.m. 11.3 at Abilene Christian* 2:30 p.m. 11.10 McNeese St.* 6 p.m. 11.15 at Stephen F. Austin* 6 p.m. *­­—Southland Conference games

KICK OFF SEASON L FOOTBAL GRILL! EW with a N Inspirational Style & Comfort for Your Home 3005 W. Cabela’s Parkway • Gonzales LouisianaCasualLiving.com • Store Hours - 10 - 6 M - F, 10 - 5 Saturday


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THE COWBOYS LAST SEASON: 9-2 (7-2 SLC) COACH: Lance Guidry (third season, 15-7) LEADER: Guidry keeps saying quarterback James Tabary didn’t have a good 2017 season. If that’s true, the Southland should be scared of what a good season looks like. Tabary has a chance to be the best passer in the league, and McNeese has a chance to return to the top of the league with him. RETURNING: If 2017 is any indicator, Lawayne Ross has a chance to become the best pass-catching tight end in school history. A second season at the position means an increase of production for the converted running back that caught 42 balls for 570 yards last year, the most on the team. BREAKOUT: Many would say 2017 was BJ Blunt’s breakout year after he finished third in total tackles (43). But after losing seven defensive starters, the Cowboys might need an even bigger year out of the senior linebacker. ISSUE: The defense carried McNeese last season, and the Cowboys lost a lot of seniors. Whether they can return to the same level of production remains to be seen. OUTLOOK: McNeese is out for revenge after getting snubbed by the FCS playoffs in 2017. If the Cowboys turn that disappointment into motivation, they’ll be one of the most dangerous teams in the Southland.

SCHEDULE Date Opponent Time 9.1 at Northern Colo. 3:05 p.m. 9.8 at Houston Baptist* 6 p.m. 9.15 Nicholls State* 6 p.m. 9.22 at Brigham Young 5 p.m. 9.29 Stephen F. Austin* 6 p.m. 10.6 Abilene Christian* 6 p.m. 10.20 at Incarnate Word* 4 p.m. 10.27 Central Arkansas* 6 p.m. 11.3 at Southeastern* 7 p.m. 11.10 at Northwestern St.* 6 p.m. 11.17 Lamar* 6 p.m. *­­—Southland Conference games

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McNEESE STATE

McNeese seeks playoff push Cowboys motivated after missing FCS postseason despite 9-2 mark BY MIKE GEGENHEIMER Special to The Advocate

McNeese State hasn’t forgotten how last season ended. The Cowboys couldn’t even if they wanted to. McNeese thought it was virtually assured a spot in the FCS playoffs. The Cowboys were 9-2 with their only losses to Southland champion Central Arkansas and on a last-second field goal to Nicholls State, which also was on the bubble for an at-large bid but with a worse record. But when the last of the schools’ names were called, McNeese was not one of them. Nicholls and Sam Houston State got at-large bids (with UCA being an automatic qualifier). McNeese, a program proud of its SLC-leading 17 playoff appearances, was kept out. That was Sunday, Nov. 19. The 2018 season began on Nov. 20. “Honestly, you don’t process it,” linebacker BJ Blunt said. “It’s honestly something that will likely stick with you forever, but you build off it. You use it, put it under your feet, step on it and reach on top of the refrigerator and get what you’ve got to get.” McNeese isn’t alone in its disappointment. At Southland media day last month, several of the league’s coaches, along with commissioner Tom Burnett, lamented the snub of what would’ve been the conference’s fourth team in the postseason. (Sam Houston State notched two playoff wins to reach the semifinals.) But McNeese coach Lance Guidry doesn’t want his players trying to use the snub as motivation moving forward. As he sees it, the shortcomings of 2017 were put to rest with the conclusion of the selection show. And if not then, they were officially ended amid a chaotic offseason that almost saw Guidry leave Lake Charles for the defensive backs position at Florida State. He would rather the snub become a constant reminder in the back of players’ minds of

LAKE CHARLES AMERICAN PRESS PHOTO BY KIRK MECHE

McNeese State’s Lawayne Ross has excelled at tight end since moving from running back. what happens when business isn’t taken care of on a weekly basis. In a game where every inch matters, a single mistake can be the difference in playing for a championship or watching from home. “Football is important because it teaches you about life,” Guidry said. “Sometimes you work your tail off and you outplay somebody but the ball doesn’t bounce your way. That’s life. Sometimes things happen where you haven’t earned the good or the bad, but it happens, and it’s what you do after.” If McNeese is to put 2017 behind it, it’ll do so on the back of quarterback James Tabary. Tabary has a chance to be the best passer in the Southland this season. He was the preseason second-team all-conference pick behind only childhood friend Chase Fourcade of Nicholls. Tabary finished third in the Southland last year with 228.3 yards per game and 21 touchdowns. Like his coach, Tabary isn’t interested in reliving the past, citing the common “24-hour rule” most programs use to

deal with tough losses or big victories. The only thing Tabary cares about moving forward. “Straight dominance,” he said. “I’m not going to let anybody else in the country be like

me. I want to be the best quarterback McNeese has ever had and lead my team to victory every week. Stats don’t matter to me, only wins. I’m trying to lead my team to a national championship.”


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THE BULLDOGS LAST SEASON: 7-6 (4-4 C-USA) COACH: Skip Holtz (sixth season, 38-28) LEADER: Defensive end Jaylon Ferguson, a senior from West Feliciana, has 27.5 career sacks and has been AllConference USA each of the past two seasons, carving his place in Tech’s legacy. RETURNING: Former Tulane standout Teddy Veal, the C-USA Co-Newcomer of the Year, and a solid core of receivers are back. Plus, two key offensive contributors should be back at full speed: WR Alfred Smith, a Utah transfer who missed 2017 with a knee injury, and stalwart OT O’Shea Dugas, who returns after battling injuries midway through last season. BREAKOUT: Quarterback J’Mar Smith, a junior, is the first returning starter at the position that Holtz has had at Tech. Smith had modest numbers (16 TDs, five interceptions, 228.8 yards per game, 56.0 percent, with six rushing TDs), so the hope is in the consistency and familiarity. ISSUE: Tech has to face its key C-USA competition on the road: North Texas, Southern Miss and Florida Atlantic. OUTLOOK: Tech returns this season feeling much better at quarterback, at wide receiver and in the secondary. Difficult road games will pose a challenge, but the Bulldogs have shown they can find a way to contend, no matter what, under Skip Holtz.

SCHEDULE Date Opponent Time 9.1 at S. Alabama 6 p.m. 9.8 Southern 6 p.m. 9.22 at LSU TBA 9.29 at North Texas* 6:30 p.m. 10.6 UAB* 6 p.m. 10.13 at UTSA* 6 p.m. 10.20 UTEP* 2:30 p.m. 10.26 at FAU* 5:30 p.m./CBSS 11.3 at Mississippi St. TBA 11.10 Rice* 6 p.m. 11.17 at Southern Miss* 2:30 p.m. 11/24 WKU 11 a.m./CBSS *­­—Conference USA games

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LOUISIANA TECH

Tech is ‘all business’ for 2018 Bulldogs maintained winning ways through challenges last season BY STEPHEN HUNT

Special to The Advocate It’s hard to argue with the success Louisiana Tech has experienced in its five seasons under Skip Holtz. The Bulldogs, 7-6 in 2017, have won four consecutive bowl games for the first time in school history and have three nine-win campaigns with Holtz, hired before the 2013 season. However, one thing has eluded Tech under Holtz: a Conference USA title. The Bulldogs have played for the conference crown twice but lost to Marshall in 2014 and to Western Kentucky in 2016. And that’s one achievement Tech, picked to finish second in C-USA West behind defending division champion North Texas, would like to cross off its to-do list later this year. “Going into last year, we had represented the West two of the last three years. That’s all part of building a program,” Holtz said. “When I look at Louisiana Tech and their history, they’ve had some great wins, they’ve had some great seasons. We haven’t had great eras since we’ve gone Division I, and I think that’s one of the things that we’ve tried to build. You’ve got to learn how to win, but then you’ve got to learn to handle winning. That is the process that we’ve been through as a team and a program.” But the Bulldogs’ path to reaching a third C-USA championship game in six years will be far from easy. Tech finishes September with a trip to face North Texas, the West favorite, and travels to Southern Miss, which tied for second in the West last fall, in November. However, the Oct. 26 trip to face Florida Atlantic, which won its final 10 games last season, looms the toughest of them all. The Lane Kiffin-coached Owls return C-USA’s preseason offensive player in running back Devin Singletary and preseason defensive player of the year in linebacker Azeez Al-Shaair, two members of a truly stacked roster. “Lane (Kiffin) went in there,

ASSOCIATED PRESS FILE PHOTO BY HANNAH BALDWIN

Louisiana Tech cornerback Amik Robertson, from Thibodaux, is on the Jim Thorpe Award preseason watch list as one of the nation’s top defensive backs. Robertson had five interceptions and six pass breakups while starting every game as a freshman last season. and they won a lot of football games,” Holtz said. “They beat us at our place last year. I think they’ve got an awful lot of talent. I thought he did a really good job of coming in and managing it and doing what they needed to do to flip the tide. Anytime you win the conference, you’re the team that everyone’s shooting for the following year. It’s different when you have the target on your chest, so I think it will be interesting this year.” Holtz remains bullish on Tech’s chances to break through in 2018. One reason for his optimism is a defense led by defensive end Jaylon Ferguson, a first-team All-Conference USA selection in 2016 and 2017, and defensive back Amik Robertson, two reasons this defense could be even better than the 2017 edition, which led C-USA with 28 forced turnovers. “It’s the deepest team that we’ve had. The margin of who’s going to play and who’s going to be a backup is really small right now,” he said. Offensively, Tech has holes to fill at running back but returns redshirt junior quarter-

back J’Mar Smith, the first time the Bulldogs will have had the same starter under center in back-to-back seasons under Holtz, along with last season’s top pass catcher in Teddy Veal. Holtz also expects the veteran leadership of Ferguson and Veal, both seniors, to play a vital role in 2018. “They’re two very talented players, but they’re two very humble players,” Holtz said. “Their leadership is part of what’s going to give this team a chance to maybe climb that elusive hurdle that we’ve fought so hard and long to get to because they’re not satisfied. They’re not sitting there, patting themselves on the back and saying look at what we did, look at four bowl games. Instead, they say we’ve got four bowl rings and that’s great, but we don’t have a conference championship ring. And that’s what they want.” Call the Bulldogs extra-focused, ready to approach this season with a sense of unfinished business or even with a chip on their collective shoulder, but Veal sums up Tech’s mindset quite succinctly. “We’re all business — ­ all gas,

CONFERENCE USA PRESEASON POLL EAST DIVISION 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Florida Atlantic (22) Marshall (4) Middle Tennessee FIU WKU Old Dominion Charlotte

WEST DIVISION 1. North Texas (18) 2. Louisiana Tech (4) 3. UAB (3) 4. Southern Miss (1) 5. UTSA T6. Rice T6. UTEP no brakes. We’ve been trying to take that next step because we’ve got to get that conference championship,” he said. Tech opens its season Sept. 1 at South Alabama. The Bulldogs’ home opener at Joe Aillet Stadium is Sept. 8 against Southern.


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STATE COLLEGE COMPOSITE FOOTBALL SCHEDULE 2018 LOUISIANA COMPOSITE FOOTBALL SCHEDULE LOUISIANA COLLEGE

GRAMBLING

LSU

LOUISIANA TECH

McNEESE STATE

NICHOLLS STATE

Texas A&M College Station, Texas

Aug. 30 Sept. 1

UL-Lafayette Lafayette

Northwestern State Natchitoches

Sept. 15 Sept. 22

SOUTHERN

UL-Monroe Monroe

LOUISIANAMONROE Southeastern Monroe

South Alabama Mobile, Ala.

Northern Colorado Greeley, Colo.

Kansas Lawrence, Kan.

Southern Ruston

Houston Baptist Houston

Tulane New Orleans

Grambling Natchitoches

LSU Baton Rouge

Louisiana Tech Ruston

Nicholls State New Orleans

Nicholls State Lake Charles

McNeese State Lake Charles

Lamar Beaumont, Texas

Langston Baton Rouge

UAB Birmingham, Ala.

Mississippi St. Starkville, Miss.

Texas A&M College Station, Texas

Brigham Young Provo, Utah

Sam Houston State Thibodaux

Central Arkansas Hammond Lamar Beaumont, Texas

Alabama A&M Mobile, Ala.

Ohio State Columbus, Ohio

Coastal Carolina Lafayette

Troy Monroe

Alabama Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Georgia State Atlanta

Texas State San Marcos, Texas

Ole Miss Oxford, Miss.

TCU Fort Worth, Texas

Alabama State Grambling

Alcorn State Lorman, Miss.

Southeastern Baton Rouge

Hardin-Simmons Pineville

Auburn Auburn, Ala.

Southwestern Georgetown, Texas

Louisiana Tech Baton Rouge

LSU Baton Rouge

Grambling Lafayette

Southern Miss Hattiesburg, Miss.

Memphis New Orleans Prairie View Dallas

Sul Ross State Alpine, Texas

Ole Miss Baton Rouge

North Texas Denton, Texas

Stephen F. Austin Lake Charles

Lamar Thibodaux

Southeastern Hammond

Northwestern Hammond

Oct. 6

Oklahoma Panhandle Grambling

Texas Lutheran Pineville

Florida Gainesville, Fla.

UAB Ruston

Abilene Christian Lake Charles

Northwestern State Natchitoches

Nicholls State Natchitoches

Incarnate World San Antonio

Oct. 13

Texas Southern Houston

McMurry Abilene, Texas

Georgia Baton Rouge

UTSA San Antonio

Oct. 20

Alcorn State Lorman, Miss.

East Texas Baptist Mississippi St. Pineville Baton Rouge

UTEP Ruston

Abilene Christian Sam Houston St. Houston Baptist Abilene, Texas Natchitoches Hammond Incarnate World San Antonio

Alcorn State Baton Rouge Cincinnati Cincinnati Prairie View Prairie View, Texas

Central Arkansas Abilene Christian Texas Southern Conway, Ark. Hammond Dallas

New Mexico St. Coastal Carolina Lafayette Conway, S.C. SMU New Orleans

Appalachian St. Boone, N.C.

Texas State Monroe

Tulsa Tulsa, Okla.

Arkansas State Lafayette

USF Tampa, Fla.

Troy Troy, Ala.

Georgia Southern Monroe

East Carolina New Orleans

Georgia State Lafayette

South Alabama Mobile, Ala.

South Alabama Lafayette

Arkansas State Jonesboro, Ark.

UL-Monroe Monroe

UL-Lafayette Monroe

Florida Atlantic Boca Raton, Fla.

Oct. 26 Oct. 27

Ark.-Pine Bluff Grambling

Belhaven Pineville

Nov. 3

Mississippi Valley Grambling

Mary Hardin-Baylor Belton, Texas

Alabama Baton Rouge

Mississippi St. Starkville, Miss.

Southeastern Hammond

Nov. 10

Alabama A&M Normal, Ala.

Howard Payne Pineville

Arkansas Fayetteville, Ark.

Rice Ruston

Northwestern State Natchitoches

Central Arkansas Incarnate World Houston Baptist Sam Houston St. Lake Charles Thibodaux Natchitoches Huntsville, Texas

Nov. 15 Nov. 17 Nov. 24

LOUISIANALAFAYETTE

Wake Forest New Orleans

Sept. 28 Sept. 29

TULANE

Miami Arlington, Texas

Sept. 2 Sept. 8

NORTHWESTERN SOUTHEASTERN STATE LOUISIANA

Southern New Orleans

Rice Baton Rouge

Southern Miss. Hattiesburg, Miss

Texas A&M College Station, Texas

Western Kentucky Ruston

Jackson State Baton Rouge

Houston Baptist Abilene Christian McNeese State Houston Abilene, Texas Hammond Stephen F. Austin Thibodaux

McNeese State Natchitoches

Southeastern Thibodaux

Stephen F. Austin Nacogdoches, Texas

Ark.-Pine Bluff Baton Rouge Nicholls State Thibodaux

Houston Houston

Lamar Lake Charles Grambling New Orleans

Navy New Orleans

LOUISIANA COLLEGE

LC has something to build on in Charles’ Year 2 BY MIKE GEGENHEIMER Special to The Advocate

Justin Charles learned a lot last season. When a team loses all but three games in a head coach’s first year, it’s hard not to pick up a few things. Charles knew about the administrative work he’d have to do when he took the reins at Louisiana College after 13 years as an assistant, but he didn’t think the pace of everything would be so fast. So he learned how to manage. The Wildcats didn’t have the physical mindset and tough mentality Charles wants to see in his players. So he spent the offseason talking to his team and instilling in them the values of his vision for Louisiana College.

The Wildcats embark on Year 2 of the Charles era when the Wildcats open at Alcorn State on Sept. 8, and their head coach feels more comfortable and confident calling the shots. Now it’s just a matter of turning those learning lessons into wins. “I kind of know what to expect going into a season and how to approach a season little bit better,” Charles said. “Not that I didn’t know how to approach a season last year, but as a head coach, you have to approach things a little differently, whether that’s with the media, installing different things within your team, working with player, mentally and overall preparations. “I’m a bit more equipped and mentally prepared.” The main focus going into

preseason camp is cleaning up a shaky defense that allowed a devastating 560.5 yards per game, almost 30 yards more than the next closest American Southwest Conference team. That’s a particular insult for Charles, who spent the previous five years as the Wildcats’ defensive coordinator before assuming the top spot on staff. Fortunately for Louisiana College, it returns Orel Ledet and Julius Johnson at linebacker and Josh Pickett and Anthony Hargrave in the secondary as the expected leaders of the group. Ledet is the top returning starter with 97 tackles in 2017, plus three interceptions. “We’re changing up some things schematically,” Charles said. “It’ll kind of be the same, but it’ll be a different feel to our

kids. In the past we had our kids thinking too much. This year it’s really simple. Let’s just go play ball.” The offense will under go some changes after the departure of Wayne Griffin and D’Ondre Joseph at quarterback. Charles said he didn’t name a starter going into camp, but Mason Jordan and Skyler Bonneau will compete for the job. Unlike last year, Charles does not want to run a two-quarterback system and plans to name a full-time starter. In the meantime, Louisiana College will focus on amping up its ground game behind running back Aaron Woods and a deep offensive line. “We’ve got eight guys we feel could line up and be a starter for us,” Charles said. “Don’t know who the starting five will

SCHEDULE

Date Opponent Time 9.8 at Alcorn St. 6 p.m. 9.15 Hardin-Simmons* 6 p.m. 9.22 at Southwestern U. 6 p.m. 9.29 at Sul Ross St.* 6 p.m. 10.6 Texas Lutheran* 6 p.m. 10.13 at McMurry* 1 p.m. 10.20 E. Texas Baptist* 6 p.m. 10.27 Belhaven* 6 p.m. 11.3 at Mary-Hardin Baylor* 1 p.m. 11.10 Howard Payne* Noon *­­—American Southwest Conference games be. We’re going to put the five guys out there who play the best together. … And to complement those guys is one of the best running backs in the country.”


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SOUTHWESTERN ATHLETIC CONFERENCE

2018 SWAC COMPOSITE FOOTBALL SCHEDULE ALABAMA A&M

ALABAMA STATE

ALCORN STATE

ARKANSASPINE BLUFF

GRAMBLING

JACKSON STATE

Aug. 25 Aug. 30*

MISSISSIPPI VALLEY

PRAIRIE VIEW

North Dakota* Grand Forks, N.D.

Rice Houston

Sept. 1 Sept. 2*

Miles College Normal, Ala.

Tuskegee Montgomery, Ala.

Georgia Tech Atlanta

Morehouse Pine Bluff, Ark.

UL-Lafayette Lafayette

Southern Miss Hattiesburg, Miss.

Sept. 8

North Alabama Normal, Ala.

Auburn Auburn, Ala.

Louisiana College Lorman, Miss.

Cumberland Pine Bluff, Ark.

Northwestern State Natchitoches

Tennessee State Nashville, Tenn.

Sept. 15

Cincinnati Cincinnati

Kennesaw State Kennesaw, Ga

Texas Southern Lorman, Miss.

South Dakota St. Brookings, S.D.

Sept. 22

Southern Mobile, Ala.

Grambling Grambling

Mississippi Valley Itta Bena, Miss.

Prairie View Pine Bluff, Ark.

Alabama State Grambling

Sept. 29

Jackson State Jackson, Miss.

Southern Baton Rouge

FIU Miami

Prairie View Grambling

Alabama A&M Jackson, Miss.

Jackson State Pine Bluff, Ark.

Oklahoma Panhandle Grambling

Ark.-Pine Bluff Pine Bluff, Ark.

Bethune-Cookman Daytona Beach, Fla.

Texas Southern Houston

Mississippi Valley Jackson, Miss.

Jackson State Jackson. Miss.

Oct. 6

Texas Southern Houston

Alcorn State Lorman, Miss.

Alabama State Lorman, Miss.

Oct. 13

Alcorn State Normal, Ala.

South Alabama Mobile, Ala.

Alabama A&M Normal, Ala.

Oct. 20

SOUTHERN

TEXAS SOUTHERN

N. Carolina Central* Prairie View, Texas

TCU Fort Worth, Texas

UT-Permian Basin Houston

Sam Houston Huntsville, Texas

Louisiana Tech Ruston

Texas State San Marcos, Texas

UNLV Las Vegas

Langston Baton Rouge

Alcorn State Lorman, Miss.

Ark.-Pine Bluff Pine Bluff, Ark.

Alabama A&M Mobile, Ala.

Houston Houston

Grambling Grambling

Alcorn State Baton Rouge

Jacksonville State Jacksonville, Ala.

Florida A&M Tallahassee, Fla. Alcorn State Itta Bena, Miss.

Grambling Lorman, Miss.

Mississippi Valley Itta Bena, Miss.

Alcorn State Lorman, Miss.

North Alabama Jackson, Miss.

Ark.-Pine Bluff Itta Bena, Miss.

Alabama A&M Houston Southern Prairie View, Texas

Oct. 27

Alabama State Birmingham, Ala.

Alabama A&M Birmingham, Ala.

Prairie View Prairie View, Texas

Grambling Grambling

Ark.-Pine Bluff Grambling

Southern Baton Rouge

Texas Southern Houston

Alcorn State Prairie View, Texas

Nov. 3

Ark.-Pine Bluff Pine Bluff, Ark.

Texas Southern Montgomery, Ala.

New Mexico State Las Cruces, N.M.

Alabama A&M Pine Bluff, Ark.

Mississippi Valley Grambling

Prairie View Jackson, Miss.

Grambling Grambling

Jackson State Jackson, Miss.

Nov. 10

Grambling Normal, Ala.

Jackson State Montgomery, Ala.

Southern Baton Rouge

Alabama A&M Normal, Ala.

Alabama State Montgomery, Ala.

Hampton Itta Bena, Miss.

Nov. 17

Mississippi Valley Itta Bena, Miss.

Prairie View Prairie View, Texas

Alcorn State Lorman, Miss.

Alabama A&M Itta Bena, Miss.

Alabama State Prairie View, Texas

Alabama State* Montgomery, Ala.

Texas Southern Prairie View, Texas

Nov. 24 Nov. 22*

Jackson State Lorman, Miss.

Mississippi Valley* Montgomery, Ala.

Texas Southern Houston Southern New Orleans

Prairie View Prairie View, Texas

Grambling Houston

Texas Southern Houston

Southern Houston

Jackson State Baton Rouge

Mississippi Valley Houston Alabama State Montgomery, Ala.

Ark.-Pine Bluff Baton Rouge

 

    

                           

Ark.-Pine Bluff Houston Grambling New Orleans

Prairie View Prairie View, Texas


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SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE

2018 SEC COMPOSITE FOOTBALL SCHEDULE ALABAMA

ARKANSAS

AUBURN

FLORIDA

GEORGIA

KENTUCKY

LSU

OLE MISS

MISSISSIPPI STATE

MISSOURI

SOUTH CAROLINA

TENNESSEE

Louisville Orlando, Fla.

Eastern Illinois Fayetteville, Ark.

Washington Atlanta

Charleston Southern Gainesville, Fla.

Austin Peay Athens, Ga.

Central Michigan Lexington, Ky.

Miami** Arlington, Texas

Texas Tech Houston

Stephen F. Austin Starkville, Miss.

UT Martin Columbia, Mo.

Coastal Carolina Columbia, S.C.

West Virginia Charlotte, N.C.

Sept. 8

Arkansas State Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Colorado State Fort Collins, Colo.

Alabama State Auburn, Ala.

Kentucky Gainesville, Fla.

South Carolina Columbia, S.C.

Florida Gainsville, Fla.

Southeastern Baton Rouge

Southern Illinois Oxford, Miss.

Kansas State Manhattan, Kan.

Wyoming Columbia, Mo.

Georgia Columbia, S.C.

E. Tennessee State Knoxville, Tenn.

Sept. 15

Ole Miss Oxford, Miss.

North Texas Fayetteville, Ark.

LSU Auburn, Ala.

Colorado State Gainesville, Fla.

Middle Tennessee Athens, Ga.

Murray State Lexington, Ky.

Auburn Auburn, Ala.

Alabama Oxford, Miss.

UL-Lafayette Purdue Starkville, Miss. West Lafayette, Ind.

Marshall Columbia, S.C.

UTEP Knoxville, Tenn.

UL-Monroe College Station, Texas

Sept. 22

Texas A&M Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Auburn Auburn, Ala.

Arkansas Auburn, Ala.

Tennessee Knoxville, Tenn.

Missouri Columbia, Mo.

Miss. State Lexington, Ky.

Louisiana Tech Baton Rouge

Kent State Oxford, Miss.

Kentucky Lexington, Ky.

Vanderbilt Nashville, Tenn.

Florida Knoxville, Tenn.

Alabama Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Sept. 29

UL-Lafayette Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Texas A&M Arlington, Texas

Southern Miss Auburn, Ala.

Miss. State Starkville, Miss.

Tennessee Athens, Ga.

Ole Miss Baton Rouge

LSU Baton Rouge

Florida Starkville, Miss.

Kentucky Lexington, Ky.

Georgia Athens, Ga.

Arkansas Arlington, Texas

Oct. 6

Arkansas Fayetteville, Ark.

Alabama Fayetteville, Ark.

Miss. State Starkville, Miss.

LSU Gainesville, Fla.

Vanderbilt Athens, Ga.

South Carolina Lexington, Ky. Texas A&M College Station, Texas

Florida Gainesville, Fla.

UL-Monroe Oxford, MIss.

Auburn Starkville, Miss.

Oct. 13

Missouri Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Ole Miss Little Rock, Ark.

Tennessee Auburn, Ala.

Vanderbilt Nashville, Tenn.

LSU Baton Rouge

Georgia Baton Rouge

Arkansas Little Rock, Ark.

Oct. 20

Tennessee Knoxville, Tenn.

Tulsa Fayetteville, Ark.

Ole Miss. Oxford, Miss.

Miss. State Baton Rouge

Auburn Oxford, Miss.

Sept. 1

Aug. 30* Sept. 2**

Vanderbilt Fayetteville, Ark.

Oct. 27

Vanderbilt Lexington, Ky. Georgia Jacksonville, Fla.

Florida Jacksonville, Fla.

Missouri Columbia, Mo.

Texas A&M Auburn, Ala.

Missouri Gainesville, Fla.

Kentucky Lexington, Ky.

Georgia Lexington, Ky.

Alabama Baton Rouge

South Carolina Oxford, Miss. Texas A&M College Station, Texas

Georgia Columbia, Mo.

South Carolina Columbia, S.C.

Missouri Columbia, S.C.

Alabama Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Texas A&M Columbia, S.C.

Auburn Auburn, Ala.

TEXAS A&M Nâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;western State* College Station, Texas Clemson College Station, Texas

Kentucky College Station, Texas South Carolina Columbia, S.C.

Alabama Knoxville, Tenn.

VANDERBILT Middle Tennesee Nashville, Tenn. Nevada Nashville, Tenn. Notre Dame South Bend, Ind. South Carolina Nashville, Tenn. Tennessee State Nashville, Tenn. Georgia Athens, Ga. Florida Nashville, Tenn.

LSU Baton Rouge

Memphis Columbia, Mo.

Kentucky Lexington, Ky.

Texas A&M Starkville, Miss.

Kentucky Columbia, Mo.

Tennessee Columbia, S.C.

South Carolina Columbia, S.C.

Miss. State Starkville, Miss.

Louisiana Tech Starkville, Miss.

Florida Gainesville, Fla.

Ole Miss Oxford, Miss.

Charlotte Knoxville, Tenn.

Auburn Auburn, Ala.

Alabama Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Vanderbilt Columbia, Mo.

Florida Gainesville, Fla.

Kentucky Knoxville, Tenn.

Ole Miss College Station, Texas

Missouri Columbia, Mo.

Arkansas Fayetteville, Ark.

Nov. 3

LSU Baton Rouge

Nov. 10

Miss. State Tuscaloosa, Ala.

LSU Fayetteville, Ark.

Georgia Athens, Georgia

South Carolina Gainesville, Fla.

Auburn Athens, Ga.

Tennessee Knoxville, Tenn.

Arkansas Fayetteville, Ark.

Nov. 17

The Citadel Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Miss. State Starkville, Miss.

Liberty Auburn, Ala.

Idaho Gainesville, Fla.

UMass Athens, Ga.

Middle Tennessee Lexington, Ky.

Rice Baton Rouge

Vanderbilt Nashville, Tenn.

Arkansas Starkville, Miss.

Tennessee Knoxville, Tenn.

Chattanooga Columbia, S.C.

Missouri Knoxville, Tenn.

UAB College Station, Texas

Ole Miss Nashville, Tenn.

Nov. 24

Auburn Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Missouri** Columbia, Mo.

Alabama Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Florida State Tallahassee, Fla.

Georgia Tech Athens, Ga.

Louisville Louisville, Ky.

Texas A&M College Station, Texas

Miss. State* Oxford, Miss.

Ole Miss* Oxford, Miss.

Arkansas** Columbia, Mo.

Clemson Clemson, S.C.

Vanderbilt Nashville, Tenn.

LSU College Station, Texas

Tennessee Nashville, Tenn.

Nov. 22* Nov. 23**

Charter Flight for the Season Opener


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NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: Season preview

SUPER FOCUSED

The Saints have all the ingredients to make a deep run this season

ADVOCATE FILE PHOTO BY SCOTT THRELKELD

BY JOEL A. ERICKSON

jerickson@theadvocate.com For the first time in years, the ink, digital screens and airwaves around New Orleans are filled with Super Bowl talk, a legitimate belief that the team the Saints rebuilt around Drew Brees has what it takes to make it back to the mountaintop if everything falls right. Nearly all of the teammates around Brees have no idea what the 2009 run was like, what that team had that carried it all the

way to a place the city of New Orleans and its franchise had never been before. But Jermon Bushrod was there, both for the years leading up to the magical 2009 season and for the aftermath as the Saints tried to recapture that magic once again. Brought back this offseason after three years in Chicago and two in Miami, Bushrod missed the buildup this time. A veteran of 12 training camps, Bushrod has played on a Super Bowl team and on teams that never

had a shot. And after practicing with this Saints team for a summer, he believes. Bushrod believes this team has the ability to make all of those Super Bowl predictions right. “I wouldn’t see why not,” Bushrod said. “As long as you can build on what these guys did last year. ... If we can get the focus and the vision in front of us like we need to, this team can write their own story.” Bushrod’s veteran eye con-

firms what these Saints look like on paper: a team with no obvious holes. Brees is still one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks at the age of 39. Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara might be the league’s best tandem of running backs. Pro Bowler Michael Thomas leads a receiving corps so deep that the Saints will cut proven veterans at the end of training camp, and the presence of Benjamin Watson solidifies a tight end spot that was a weak point last year. All of those weapons will line up behind one of the NFL’s best offensive lines. Meanwhile, a defense that was this team’s glaring weakness for so long is on the rise and seems poised to potentially become one of the NFL’s best. With Cameron Jordan at defensive end and Marshon Lattimore at cornerback, the Saints have two returning Pro Bowlers to anchor a defense that is a mix at every level of productive veterans and up-and-coming young talent. “We probably feel like we have fewer holes,” general manager Mickey Loomis said at the beginning of the year. Loomis spent the offseason adding veteran experience to a young roster. By signing veterans like cornerback Patrick Robinson, safety Kurt Coleman and Bushrod, the Saints added players with Super Bowl pasts to a team hoping to make it there. Robinson, who joined the Saints the year after their Super Bowl and finally got his own ring with the Philadelphia Eagles a year ago, plans to bring that experience to bear in his return to the team that first plucked him out of the draft. “I know what it takes,” Robinson said. “I’m trying to share my knowledge of how we did it last year in Philly, share all the knowledge I’ve gained and win another championship.”

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SAINTS SEASON PREVIEW n LEADER

n OUTLOOK

n ISSUE

n SCHEDULE

He finally has help on both sides of the ball, but this is still Drew Brees’ team until he or his arm decides the franchise no longer belongs to him. There is no evidence of either one of those things happening. But as we learned last year, (somewhat) less Brees is a good thing. If he’s passing for 5,000 yards again, that means the running game and defense are not doing their part.

This is the first time since 2014 that the Saints have entered the season with high hopes. But even this time feels a little bit different. After being so close last year and with so much ascending talent, it will feel like a disappointment if New Orleans does not make a deep playoff run.

The Saints are a stacked team. Anything less than a deep run into the playoffs will be considered a disappointment. That’s one big issue the team needs to deal with. The other one is figuring out how to get through the first four games without running back Mark Ingram, who will serve a suspension to start the year. Alvin Kamara is one piece of the puzzle, but who will step up to claim the rest of the carries?

n BREAKOUT

If training camp is any indication, it looks like safety Marcus Williams is prepared to play like a Pro Bowl player. Many will forget that he was on the right path last season before making a blunder against Minnesota that ended New Orleans’ season. But it looks like he is on a mission to put that behind him. Williams is seeing the field better and reacting to plays more quickly than he did a year ago.

FOCUSED

Continued from page 54 New Orleans also has the pedigree now after an 11-5 season that took the Saints within one miraculous play of the NFC Championship game in 2017. Put it all together — a legendary quarterback, bona fide stars around him, depth at every position, few holes and playoff history — and it’s easy to see why so many experts have tabbed the Saints to go all the way. That ending, the Minneapolis Miracle few Saints fans want to see again, is also a factor. Hard to get complacent when a shot at the Super Bowl gets ripped away in such a painful fashion. “These young guys are hungry,” free-agent cornerback Patrick Robinson said. With all of these lofty pre-

Safety Marcus Williams

dictions swirling around the Saints, head coach Sean Payton has steered his ship right into the thick of them. A lot of teams draw motivation from the idea that no one is believing in them. Payton wants his team to draw motivation from the opposite. An enormous banner next to the practice field reads “Prove Them Right,” the mantra Payton set in front

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of his team before the start of training camp. “If we want to be a great team, we have to be able to embrace that,” Brees said. “We have to get the best out of ourselves by expecting it out of ourselves.” Nobody is quite so aware of how close the Saints came last season as the players them-

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NEW ORLEANS SAINTS: David Onyemata

Saints defensive tackle David Onyemata (93) pressures Panthers quarterback Cam Newton in the playoffs in January. ADVOCATE FILE PHOTO

COMING ON STRONG The Saints love what they’re seeing as defensive tackle Onyemata goes from raw to refined

BY NICK UNDERHILL

nunderhill@theadvocate.com You should bet on David Onyemata. When there is a fight at practice, and people are guessing who might be at the center of the scrum, there is a good chance that the Saints defensive tackle wearing No. 93 will be right in the thick of things. It’s borderline cliché to point out how a guy steps into a phone booth and comes out the other side a completely different person for games, but it would be impossible to explain Onyemata without at least touching on his fire, because seeing him in that light is a stunning juxtaposition from how he presents in ordinary settings. He’s quick to smile off the field. He is so softspoken that you often need to strain to hear his words. His presence is calming. But on the field, he’s willing to throw a punch when the situation calls for one. “There is kind of a quiet anger inside of him,” defensive coordinator Dennis Allen said. “He’s about as nice of a guy as you can have off the field, but when he’s on the field, he’s as competitive as anyone we have.” That’s not the reason you

should bet on Onyemata, but you should know that things are starting to make sense for him. You have to remember that he grew up in Africa as a soccer player and only started playing football a few years ago at the University of Manitoba in Canada as a way to pass the time. Saints rookie camp in 2016 was the first time he lined up directly over an offensive lineman. The progress he has made over the past two years has the former fourth-round pick competing with Sheldon Rankins, a first-round pick, for the starting position in the base defense. Both players will play more snaps than whoever wins the job at nose tackle because New Orleans plays so much nickel defense, but the point is made

to illustrate the level of growth Onyemata has made. You could start to see it last year. About midway through the season, Onyemata’s mental growth began to match up with his physical tools. Production followed. He recorded 25 total pressures from the Week 9 game against Tampa Bay through the final playoff game against Minnesota. He had only six pressures during the first eight weeks. The reason was, the defensive tackle was seeing things faster, which allowed him to diagnose and react to angles more quickly than he was before. “You could just see the terminology and the things we’ve done over and over again,” defensive line coach Ryan Niel-

sen said. “It was just a lot more the leap mentally. That’s what smooth, easy, natural for him. you’re seeing from him.” As a player, he’s very strong, Players and coaches often explosive. He’s got all the tools. ä See STRONG, page 57 The mental part, he’s taking

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ADVOCATE FILE PHOTO BY MATTHEW HINTON

Saints defensive tackle David Onyemata: ‘Right now, Year 3, by now you should know all these things. ... You just go out there and do your job.’

STRONG

Continued from page 56

in those smaller details where his teammates have seen the most growth from Onyemata this summer. “You can be fast, you can be physical, but knowing where the ball is as a D-lineman is half the battle, obviously,” center Max Unger said. “Just awareness, splits, pressure here, quicker reaction time, stuff like that. At the same time hiding what they do better. All of those things he is showing pretty rapid improvement.” Onyemata says he feels better on the field. Things are more comfortable for him. He’s settling in more and more. This offseason he worked on making his hands more violent and his technique so he could improve at shedding blocks. He spent his time doing that with long-time defensive line coach Pete Jenkins in Baton Rouge. It’s now the details more than anything. But he also credits his work with Nielsen last season with helping him grow as a pass rusher. But now, at this point his career, he says it’s time to start cashing in the chips. “Right now, Year 3, by now you should know all those things,” Onyemata said. “You get a play, you go in there, you know what they’re asking, you know what they’re expecting you to do, so you just go out there and do your job.” Onyemata is doing that. Maybe that’s why it’s time to bet on him.

talk about players making the most significant leap in development between their first and second seasons. The idea is that all the information is processed during the first season, so by the second season they’re thinking less and reacting more. The path he took here might make Onyemata one of the players who continues blooming later into his career. Allen still sees a lot of growth potential for Onyemata and called him “somewhat raw” as a player. Part of the reason for that is because Onyemata is still seeing things for the first time. Once he accumulates enough experiences, that’s when his instincts will be able to take over more. But the good thing is, he quickly makes corrections. “You can see, he’s one of those guys that very seldom makes the same mistake twice,” Allen said. “The more plays he sees, the more blocking schemes he sees, the more protections he sees, the more effective he’s going to be.” Another way to look at this is Onyemata is competing for more snaps despite being called a “raw” player by his defensive coordinator. His physical traits are that good. So, it’s not a surprise when you ask offensive linemen why Onyemata is a tough matchup, they point to his size, speed and physicality. All of those Follow Nick Underhill on things are plain to see. But it’s Twitter, @nick_underhill.​

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2018 NFL SCHEDULE: Week by week WEEK 1

WEEK 3

WEEK 5

WEEK 7

Thursday, Sept. 6 Atlanta at Philadelphia, 7:20 p.m. (NBC) Sunday, Sept. 9 Buffalo at Baltimore, noon (CBS) Pittsburgh at Cleveland, noon (CBS) Cincinnati at Indianapolis, noon (CBS) Tennessee at Miami, noon (Fox) San Francisco at Minnesota, noon (Fox) Houston at New England, noon (CBS) Tampa Bay at New Orleans, noon (Fox) Jacksonville at N.Y. Giants, noon (Fox) Kansas City at L.A. Chargers, 3:05 p.m. (CBS) Washington at Arizona, 3:25 p.m. (Fox) Dallas at Carolina, 3:25 p.m. (Fox) Seattle at Denver, 3:25 p.m. (Fox) Chicago at Green Bay, 7:20 p.m. (NBC) Monday, Sept. 10 N.Y. Jets at Detroit, 6:10 p.m. (ESPN) L.A. Rams at Oakland, 9:20 p.m. (ESPN)

Thursday, Sept. 20 N.Y. Jets at Cleveland, 7:20 p.m. (NFLN) Sunday, Sept. 23 New Orleans at Atlanta, noon (Fox) Denver at Baltimore, noon (CBS) Cincinnati at Carolina, noon (CBS) N.Y. Giants at Houston, noon (Fox) Tennessee at Jacksonville, noon (CBS) San Francisco at Kansas City, noon (Fox) Oakland at Miami, noon (CBS) Buffalo at Minnesota, noon (CBS) Indianapolis at Philadelphia, noon (Fox) Green Bay at Washington, noon (Fox) L.A. Chargers at L.A. Rams, 3:05 p.m. (CBS) Chicago at Arizona, 3:25 p.m. (Fox) Dallas at Seattle, 3:25 p.m. (Fox) New England at Detroit, 7:20 p.m. (NBC) Monday, Sept. 24 Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay, 7:15 p.m. (ESPN)

Byes: Chicago, Tampa Bay Thursday, Oct. 4 Indianapolis at New England, 7:20 p.m. (Fox/NFLN) Sunday, Oct. 7 Tennessee at Buffalo, noon (CBS) N.Y. Giants at Carolina, noon (Fox) Miami at Cincinnati, noon (CBS) Baltimore at Cleveland, noon (CBS) Green Bay at Detroit, noon (Fox) Jacksonville at Kansas City, noon (CBS) Denver at N.Y. Jets, noon (CBS) Atlanta at Pittsburgh, noon (Fox) Oakland at L.A. Chargers, 3:05 p.m. (CBS) Minnesota at Philadelphia, 3:25 p.m. (Fox) Arizona at San Francisco, 3:25 p.m. (Fox) L.A. Rams at Seattle, 3:25 p.m. (Fox) x-Dallas at Houston, 7:20 p.m. (NBC) Monday, Oct. 8 Washington at New Orleans, 7:15 p.m. (ESPN)

Byes: Green Bay, Oakland, Pittsburgh, Seattle Thursday, Oct. 18 Denver at Arizona, 7:20 p.m. (Fox/NFLN) Sunday, Oct. 21 Tennessee at L.A. Chargers, 8:30 a.m. (London-CBS) New England at Chicago, noon (CBS) Buffalo at Indianapolis, noon (CBS) Houston at Jacksonville, noon (CBS) Cincinnati at Kansas City, noon (CBS) Detroit at Miami, noon (Fox) Minnesota at N.Y. Jets, noon (Fox) Carolina at Philadelphia, noon (Fox) Cleveland at Tampa Bay, noon (Fox) New Orleans at Baltimore, 3:05 p.m. (Fox) Dallas at Washington, 3:25 p.m. (CBS) x-L.A. Rams at San Francisco, 7:20 p.m. (NBC) Monday, Oct. 22 N.Y. Giants at Atlanta, 7:15 p.m. (ESPN)

Former UL-Monroe quarterback Doug Pederson coached Philadelphia to a Super Bowl win over New England in February.

Running back Derrius Guice, a former LSU and Catholic High star, will miss the season with a knee injury suffered in a preseason game.

Safety Tyrann Mathieu, a Heisman Trophy finalist at LSU and a former St. Augustine star, signed with Houston in March after five seasons with Arizona.

Kyle Williams, a defensive tackle from LSU and Ruston High, is entering his 13th season with Buffalo, which picked him in the fifth round of the 2006 draft.

WEEK 2

WEEK 4

Thursday, Sept. 13 Baltimore at Cincinnati, 7:20 p.m. (NFLN) Sunday, Sept. 16 Carolina at Atlanta, noon (Fox) L.A. Chargers at Buffalo, noon (CBS) Minnesota at Green Bay, noon (Fox) Cleveland at New Orleans, noon (Fox) Miami at N.Y. Jets, noon (CBS) Kansas City at Pittsburgh, noon (CBS) Philadelphia at Tampa Bay, noon (Fox) Houston at Tennessee, noon (CBS) Indianapolis at Washington, noon (CBS) Arizona at L.A. Rams, 3:05 p.m. (Fox) Detroit at San Francisco, 3:05 p.m. (Fox) Oakland at Denver, 3:25 p.m. (CBS) New England at Jacksonville, 3:25 p.m. (CBS) N.Y. Giants at Dallas, 7:20 p.m. (NBC) Monday, Sept. 17 Seattle at Chicago, 7:15 p.m. (ESPN)

WEEK 6

Byes: Carolina, Washington Thursday, Sept. 27 Minnesota at L.A. Rams, 7:20 p.m. (Fox/NFLN) Sunday, Sept. 30 Cincinnati at Atlanta, noon (CBS) Tampa Bay at Chicago, noon (Fox) Detroit at Dallas, noon (Fox) Buffalo at Green Bay, noon (CBS) Houston at Indianapolis, noon (CBS) N.Y. Jets at Jacksonville, noon (Fox) Miami at New England, noon (CBS) Philadelphia at Tennessee, noon (Fox) Seattle at Arizona, 3:05 p.m. (Fox) Cleveland at Oakland, 3:05 p.m. (Fox) San Francisco at L.A. Chargers, 3:25 p.m. (CBS) New Orleans at N.Y. Giants, 3:25 p.m. (CBS) Baltimore at Pittsburgh, 7:20 p.m. (NBC) Monday, Oct. 1 Kansas City at Denver, 7:15 p.m. (ESPN)

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Byes: Detroit, New Orleans Thursday, Oct. 11 Philadelphia at N.Y. Giants, 7:20 p.m. (Fox/NFLN) Sunday, Oct. 14 Tampa Bay at Atlanta, noon (Fox) Pittsburgh at Cincinnati, noon (CBS) L.A. Chargers at Cleveland, noon (CBS) Buffalo at Houston, noon (CBS) Chicago at Miami, noon (Fox) Arizona at Minnesota, noon (Fox) Indianapolis at N.Y. Jets, noon (CBS) Seattle at Oakland (London), noon (Fox) Carolina at Washington, noon (Fox) L.A. Rams at Denver, 3:05 p.m. (Fox) Jacksonville at Dallas, 3:25 p.m. (CBS) Baltimore at Tennessee, 3:25 p.m. (CBS) x-Kansas City at New England, 7:20 p.m. (NBC) Monday, Oct. 15 San Francisco at Green Bay, 7:15 p.m. (ESPN)

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2018 NFL SCHEDULE: Week by week WEEK 9 Byes: Arizona, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, N.Y. Giants, Philadelphia Thursday, Nov. 1 Oakland at San Francisco, 7:20 p.m. (Fox/NFLN) Sunday, Nov. 4 Pittsburgh at Baltimore, noon (CBS) Chicago at Buffalo, noon (Fox) Tampa Bay at Carolina, noon (Fox) Kansas City at Cleveland, noon (CBS) N.Y. Jets at Miami, noon (CBS) Detroit at Minnesota, noon (Fox) Atlanta at Washington, noon (Fox) Houston at Denver, 3:05 p.m. (CBS) L.A. Chargers at Seattle, 3:05 p.m. (CBS) L.A. Rams at New Orleans, 3:25 p.m. (Fox) x-Green Bay at New England, 7:20 p.m. (NBC) Monday, Nov. 5 Tennessee at Dallas, 7:15 p.m. (ESPN)

WEEK 11 Byes: Buffalo, Cleveland, Miami, New England, N.Y. Jets, San Francisco Thursday, Nov. 15 Green Bay at Seattle, 7:20 p.m. (Fox/NFLN) Sunday, Nov. 18 Dallas at Atlanta, noon (Fox) Cincinnati at Baltimore, noon (CBS) Minnesota at Chicago, noon (Fox) Carolina at Detroit, noon (Fox) Tennessee at Indianapolis, noon (CBS) Philadelphia at New Orleans, noon (Fox) Tampa Bay at N.Y. Giants, noon (Fox) Houston at Washington, noon (CBS) Oakland at Arizona, 3:05 p.m. (CBS) Denver at L.A. Chargers, 3:05 p.m. (CBS) x-Pittsburgh at Jacksonville, 7:20 p.m. (NBC) Monday, Nov. 19

Kansas City at L.A. Rams, 7:15 p.m., Mexico City (ESPN)

WEEK 13 Thursday, Nov. 29 New Orleans at Dallas, 7:20 p.m. (Fox/NFLN) Sunday, Dec. 2 Baltimore at Atlanta, noon (CBS) Denver at Cincinnati, noon (CBS) L.A. Rams at Detroit, noon (Fox) Arizona at Green Bay, noon (Fox) Cleveland at Houston, noon (CBS) Indianapolis at Jacksonville, noon (CBS) Buffalo at Miami, noon (CBS) Chicago at N.Y. Giants, noon (Fox) L.A. Chargers at Pittsburgh, noon (CBS) Carolina at Tampa Bay, noon (Fox) Kansas City at Oakland, 3:05 p.m. (CBS) N.Y. Jets at Tennessee, 3:05 p.m. (CBS) Minnesota at New England, 3:25 p.m. (Fox) x-San Francisco at Seattle, 7:20 p.m. (NBC) Monday, Dec. 3 Washington at Philadelphia, 7:15 p.m. (ESPN)

WEEK 15 Thursday, Dec. 13 L.A. Chargers at Kansas City, 7:20 p.m. (Fox/NFLN) Saturday, Dec. 15 Houston at N.Y. Jets, 3:30 or 7:20 p.m. (NFLN) Cleveland at Denver, 3:30 or 7:20 p.m. (NFLN) Sunday, Dec. 16 Arizona at Atlanta, noon (Fox) Tampa Bay at Baltimore, noon (Fox) Detroit at Buffalo, noon (Fox) Green Bay at Chicago, noon (Fox) Oakland at Cincinnati, noon (CBS) Dallas at Indianapolis, noon (Fox) Washington at Jacksonville, noon (Fox) Miami at Minnesota, noon (CBS) Tennessee at N.Y. Giants, noon (CBS) Seattle at San Francisco, 3:05 p.m. (Fox) New England at Pittsburgh, 3:25 p.m. (CBS) x-Philadelphia at L.A. Rams, 7:20 p.m. (NBC) Monday, Dec. 17 New Orleans at Carolina, 7:15 p.m. (ESPN)

WEEK 16 Saturday, Dec. 22 Two games TBD Sunday, Dec. 23 N.Y. Giants at Indianapolis, date & time TBD Baltimore at L.A. Chargers, date & time TBD Jacksonville at Miami, date & time TBD Washington at Tennessee, date & time TBD Atlanta at Carolina, noon (Fox) Cincinnati at Cleveland, noon (CBS) Tampa Bay at Dallas, noon (Fox) Minnesota at Detroit, noon (Fox) Buffalo at New England, noon (CBS) Green Bay at N.Y. Jets, noon (Fox) Houston at Philadelphia, noon (CBS) L.A. Rams at Arizona, 3:05 p.m. (Fox) Chicago at San Francisco, 3:05 p.m. (Fox) Pittsburgh at New Orleans, 3:25 p.m. (CBS) x-Kansas City at Seattle, 7:20 p.m. (NBC) Monday, Dec. 24 Denver at Oakland, 7:15 p.m. (ESPN)

WEEK 17

Kicker Cairo Santos, a Lou Groza Award winner at Tulane, signed with the New York Jets in March after a groin injury hampered his 2017 season.

Wide receiver Jarvis Landry, a former LSU and Lutcher High standout, signed with Cleveland after four blockbuster seasons in Miami.

Running back Kenneth Dixon, from Louisiana Tech and a fourth-round pick by Baltimore in 2016, missed 2017 with a knee injury and a suspension.

Sunday, Dec. 30 Cleveland at Baltimore, noon (CBS) Miami at Buffalo, noon (CBS) Detroit at Green Bay, noon (Fox) Jacksonville at Houston, noon (CBS) Oakland at Kansas City, noon (CBS) Chicago at Minnesota, noon (Fox) N.Y. Jets at New England, noon (CBS) Carolina at New Orleans, noon (Fox) Dallas at N.Y. Giants, noon (Fox) Cincinnati at Pittsburgh, noon (CBS) Atlanta at Tampa Bay, noon (Fox) Indianapolis at Tennessee, noon (CBS) Philadelphia at Washington, noon (Fox) L.A. Chargers at Denver, 3:25 p.m. (CBS) San Francisco at L.A. Rams, 3:25 p.m. (Fox) Arizona at Seattle, 3:25 p.m. (Fox)

PLAYOFFS WEEK 10 Byes: Baltimore, Denver, Houston, Minnesota Thursday, Nov. 8 Carolina at Pittsburgh, 7:20 p.m. (Fox/NFLN) Sunday, Nov. 11 Detroit at Chicago, noon (Fox) New Orleans at Cincinnati, noon (Fox) Atlanta at Cleveland, noon (Fox) Miami at Green Bay, noon (CBS) Jacksonville at Indianapolis, noon (CBS) Arizona at Kansas City, noon (Fox) Buffalo at N.Y. Jets, noon (CBS) Washington at Tampa Bay, noon (Fox) New England at Tennessee, noon (CBS) L.A. Chargers at Oakland, 3:05 p.m. (Fox) Seattle at L.A. Rams, 3:25 p.m. (CBS) x-Dallas at Philadelphia, 7:20 p.m. (NBC) Monday, Nov. 12 N.Y. Giants at San Francisco, 7:15 p.m. (ESPN)

WEEK 12 Byes: Kansas City, L.A. Rams Thursday, Nov. 22 Chicago at Detroit, 11:30 a.m. (CBS) Washington at Dallas, 3:30 p.m. (Fox) Atlanta at New Orleans, 7:20 p.m. (NBC) Sunday, Nov. 25 Oakland at Baltimore, noon (CBS) Jacksonville at Buffalo, noon (CBS) Seattle at Carolina, noon (Fox) Cleveland at Cincinnati, noon (CBS) Miami at Indianapolis, noon (CBS) New England at N.Y. Jets, noon (CBS) N.Y. Giants at Philadelphia, noon (Fox) San Francisco at Tampa Bay, noon (Fox) Arizona at L.A. Chargers, 3:05 p.m. (Fox) Pittsburgh at Denver, 3:25 p.m. (CBS) x-Green Bay at Minnesota, 7:20 p.m. (NBC) Monday, Nov. 26 Tennessee at Houston, 7:15 p.m. (ESPN)

WEEK 14 Thursday, Dec. 6 Jacksonville at Tennessee, 7:20 p.m. (Fox/NFLN) Sunday, Dec. 9 N.Y. Jets at Buffalo, noon (CBS) L.A. Rams at Chicago, noon (Fox) Carolina at Cleveland, noon (Fox) Atlanta at Green Bay, noon (Fox) Indianapolis at Houston, noon (CBS) Baltimore at Kansas City, noon (CBS) New England at Miami, noon (CBS) New Orleans at Tampa Bay, noon (Fox) N.Y. Giants at Washington, noon (Fox) Cincinnati at L.A. Chargers, 3:05 p.m. (CBS) Denver at San Francisco, 3:05 p.m. (CBS) Detroit at Arizona, 3:25 p.m. (Fox) Philadelphia at Dallas, 3:25 p.m. (Fox) x-Pittsburgh at Oakland, 7:20 p.m. (NBC) Monday, Dec. 10 Minnesota at Seattle, 7:15 p.m. (ESPN)

WILD CARD ROUND Saturday Jan. 5-Sunday, Jan. 6 DIVISIONAL ROUND Saturday Jan. 12-Sunday, Jan. 13 CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS Sunday, Jan. 20 NFC, 2:05 p.m., Fox AFC, 5:40 p.m., CBS

PRO BOWL Sunday, Jan. 27 AFC vs. NFC, 2 p.m., ESPN/ABC, Orlando

SUPER BOWL 53 Sunday, Feb. 3 Atlanta, CBS All times Central (x-subject to change)

YOUR NEW MAN CAVE! This football season, lighten up and light up–with us! Relax in our comfortable den and forget about your worries while enjoying a fine cigar! 7539 Corporate Blvd. • Baton Rouge, LA • 225.302.5956 • donjuancigarbar.com


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â&#x20AC;&#x153;We have to remember to focus on ourselves. We set high expectations for ourselves, so obviously, we want to accomplish our goals. ... We have our expectations, and weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re going to prove ourselves right.â&#x20AC;? A.J. KLEIN, Saints linebacker

ADVOCATE FILE PHOTO BY MATTHEW HINTON

Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas celebrates the 31-26 victory over the Panthers in a wild-card playoff game in January.

FOCUSED

Continued from page 55 selves. Whatever the outside world is saying, the Saints know exactly what theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re capable of doing this season. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We have to remember to focus on ourselves,â&#x20AC;? linebacker A.J. Klein said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We set high expectations for ourselves, so obviously, we want to accomplish our goals. ... We have our expectations, and weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re going to prove ourselves right.â&#x20AC;? Embracing expectations is one thing. Realizing those expectations can be another. As talented and deep as the Saints appear to be, a Super Bowl season requires a team to hit a wave of momentum at some point in the regular season, build on that as it heads into the playoffs and then keep it going all the way through the first Sunday in February. Bushrod, like Brees, Payton and the other Saints who were around in 2009, knows that as well as he knows a Super Bowl run. Two years after New

Orleans got its ring, a team that many believe is the most complete team the Saints ever put together came up short. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I still think back to the 2011 year,â&#x20AC;? Bushrod said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Shoulda, coulda, woulda, but we couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t get it done.â&#x20AC;? When the Saints won the Super Bowl, they were coming off of two mediocre seasons, nothing that would have predicted greatness. The 2011 team was a lot more like this 2018 crew appears to be: a complete team building to a crescendo. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We had one of the best records in the NFC, but we were hot early and didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t get it done come playoff time,â&#x20AC;? Bushrod said. The Saints were 13-3 in the regular season, but fell 3632 on a touchdown pass with 9 seconds left at San Francisco in the divisional playoff round. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got to ride that wave when that wave comes.â&#x20AC;? Only time will tell if these Saints can ride that wave all the way to the place so many are predicting theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll be. Follow Joel A. Erickson on Twitter, @JoelAErickson.

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AREA HIGH SCHOOLS

FAMILY TRADITION

BR area trio treasures times when their dads were in NFL BY ROBIN FAMBROUGH

rfambrough@theadvocate.com It is a tender childhood fantasy: A boy envisions his dad as a largerthan-life superhero. Jordan Clark remembers the night he knew his father was one. All it took was one play. “Willis McGahee went out on a checkdown. As soon as he caught the ball, my dad had him,” Clark said. “I was up late watching the game on TV, and my sisters were asleep. I started jumping around. I went to school and bragged about it the next day. “It was awesome.” Former Archbishop Shaw and LSU star Ryan Clark’s hit on McGahee forced a fumble that helped the the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Baltimore Ravens in the 2008 AFC title game en route to a Super Bowl XLIII victory. Clark is now a senior cornerback at University High. He knows those experiences during his father’s 13year NFL career are rare. The moments the family shared in December when the Cubs won the Division II title were equally special. Zachary linebacker Maverick McClure and another U-High player, wide receiver Makiya Tongue, can relate — especially to those to title-game celebrations on the Mercedes-Benz Superdome floor. The sons of former NFL players Todd McClure and Reggie Tongue are equally proud of their football legacies. Clark and McClure have vivid images of their fathers as NFL players. Tongue does not. However, the Georgia commitment says his father has shaped his career like no one else could. Sort of superhero-like. The Baton Rouge area is known for

ä See SONS, page 71 University’s Makiya Tongue, left, and Jordan Clark, right, flank Zachary’s Maverick McClure

ADVOCATE STAFF PHOTO BY MICHAEL DUNLAP


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AREA HIGH SCHOOLS: Season preview

TITLETOWN 2.0

Can Baton Rouge area schools bring home state crowns again in 2018? BY ROBIN FAMBROUGH | rfambrough@theadvocate.com

1

5

THEY’RE NO. 1

It starts with University High. The Cubs established themselves as arguably Louisiana’s top team in any classification/division a year ago. U-High finished 13-0 and won the Division II championship. The Cubs also posted wins over local champions, Class 5A Zachary, Division I Catholic and Class 3A West Feliciana. Can the Cubs be better this season? It won’t be easy. But a long list of returning players led by two of Louisiana’s top 10 prospects for 2019, athlete Christian Harris and LB Bryton Constantin, indicates it is certainly possible.

2

ADVOCATE FILE PHOTOS

The University High team celebrates after winning the Division II state title in December.

3

THE STINGLEY EFFECT

Southern Lab is eligible for the postseason again, a year after the school was sanctioned by the LHSAA for violations related to recruiting. What was supposed to be a two-year playoff ban was reduced to one. The LHSAA sanctions also took away three postseason trophies in Division IV — a runner-up finish in 2014 and titles in 2015 and 2016. With two LSU commitments, RB Tyrion Davis and OT Kardell Thomas, leading the way, the Kittens will be out to assert themselves in Division IV and the local football hierarchy.

Derek Stingley Jr.

He is second on this list, but The Dunham School’s Derek Stingley Jr. is No. 1 in the nation for 2019 based on the recruiting rankings of rivals.com. He is considered the most significant DB commitment for LSU since Arizona Cardinals star Patrick Peterson. People will watch his every move. With his defensive skills already well defined, the evolution of Stingley’s role on offense for the Class 2A/Division III Tigers is intriguing. Could it be like the 1,000 yards rushing that Dutchtown’s Landon Collins had before going to Alabama and the NFL? We’ll see.

THEY’RE BACK

4

PRESSURE TO REPEAT

Last year was about as good as it could get for high school football in Baton Rouge. Local teams won four LHSAA titles, nearly half of the nine trophies awarded. Catholic and West Feliciana have the most starters/playmakers to replace for the 2018 season. U-High and Zachary are the best bets to repeat. The Cubs are ranked in the top 50 nationally in multiple preseason polls. Expect Zachary to be favored, too, though Class 5A is always balanced. See No. 3 — Southern Lab is back to contend again in Division IV.

QBS? WE HAVE THAT

It is hard for one player to define the success of a football team. An experienced quarterback is always notable, and BR returns some prominent ones. Zachary’s Keilon Brown led his team to a Class 5A title last year and is one of five quarterbacks returning to District 4-5A. Catholic has Cameron Dartez, the MVP of the Division I title game. He doesn’t get the attention of high-profile teammates, but U-High’s QB John Gordon McKernan is back, too. Live Oak’s Sal Palermo and Cameron Armstead of Scotlandville also led deep playoff runs in 2017.

6

THE SPLIT TURNS SIX

The 2018 season marks the sixth year of the LHSAA select/nonselect football championship split. Some love it and others hate it, but the LHSAA split is not a trend like high-top sneakers or binge-watching TV episodes. It is here for the long haul. The LHSAA made an important positive step by bringing all nine title games back together for one weekend. Catholic and Zachary are two of the schools that won titles for the first time under the split format. Many traditional powers remain the same. Ready or not, this is the new normal.


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LOUISIANA’S TOP RECRUITS Recruit Commitment 1. Derek Stingley Jr., DB, Dunham, 6-1, 190 LSU 2. Ishmael Sopsher, DL, Amite, 6-4, 334 3. John Emery Jr., RB, Destrehan, 5-11, 206 Georgia 4. Kardell Thomas, OL, Southern Lab, 6-4, 340 LSU 5. Tyrion Davis, RB, Southern Lab, 6-1, 230 LSU 6. Donte Starks, LB, John Ehret, 6-1, 225 LSU 7. Christian Harris, ATH, University, 6-1, 225 Texas A&M 8. Ray Parker, OL, Ruston, 6-4, 280 9. Devonta Lee, WR, Amite, 6-2, 212 10. Bryton Constantin, LB, University, 6-3, 215 Clemson 11. Trey Palmer, WR, Kentwood, 6-1, 175 LSU 12. Makiya Tongue, ATH, University, 6-3, 217 Georgia 13. Ishmael Burdine, S, Slidell, 6-1, 175 14. Devin Bush, DB, Edna Karr, 6-0, 190 15. Lance LeGendre, ATH, Warren Easton, 6-2, 210 16. Jordan Clark, DB, University, 5-11, 170 17. Joseph Evans, DL, Haynesville, 6-4, 310 LSU 18. Charles Kimbrough, DB, Warren Easton, 5-11, 168 Florida 19. Mike Hollins, RB, University, 5-11, 205 20. Thomas Perry, OL, Teurlings Catholic, 6-6, 325 LSU

TYRION DAVIS

ADVOCATE FILE PHOTO BY JOHN OUBRE

CHAMPIONSHIPS 2018 SCHEDULE At Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans Thursday, Dec. 6 Friday, Dec. 7 Saturday, Dec. 8 Class 1A, noon Class 2A, noon Division I, noon Division IV, 3:30 p.m. Division II, 3:30 p.m. Class 4A, 3:30 p.m. Division III, 7 p.m. Class 3A, 7 p.m. Class 5A, 7 p.m.

Good Luck to the

Bake r Buff s!

Go Buffaloes!

Go Buffaloes! 330 Main St, Baker, LA 70714 225 774-1077

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2017 CHAMPIONS NONSELECT Class 5A: ZACHARY def. Hahnville 34-14 Class 4A: EDNA KARR def. Lakeshore 48-26 Class 3A: WEST FELICIANA def. Richwood 40-21 Class 2A: WELSH def. St. Helena 38-26 Class 1A: WEST ST. JOHN def. Kentwood 20-14 SELECT Division I: CATHOLIC def. John Curtis 20-14 Division II: UNIVERSITY def. De La Salle 45-19 Division III: CATHOLIC-NEW IBERIA def. Notre Dame 33-16 Division IV: LAFAYETTE CHRISTIAN def. Ascension Catholic 10-0

2080 MAIN STR££T, BAK£R, LA

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Praying for the Buffaloes to have a great season!


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DISTRICT 4-5A BELAIRE COACH: Kevin Jackson (7-11) | 2017: 2-8 PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS QB Jamal Brown (6-2, 190, Sr.), *RB Keston Johnson (5-10, 200, Sr.), *SE Tremell Harrell (6-0, 190, Sr.), *OT Tyricie Cannon (6-0, 230, Sr.), C Devonte Robinson (6-0, 235, Sr.), OT Micheal Bell (6-0, 230, So.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS *LB Deondre Besseye (5-10, 240, Sr.), *LB Deangelo Wicks (5-11, 210, Sr.), *DB Robert Bradley (6-1, 185, Sr.), *DB Tremell Harrell (6-0, 190, Sr.) BIGGEST STRENGTHS Offense will be a key, with a solid group of returning starters led by RB Keston Johnson. If the Bengals can limit mistakes on offense they can give the defense more time to develop. SEASON FORECAST The Bengals have the deck stacked against them for two reasons. They are still working to get beyond the shadows of 2016 LHSAA sanctions and have enrollment that dropped below the 5A level when Istrouma opened last year. Belaire needs to win early in the preseason to gain some momentum.

CENTRAL COACH: Sid Edwards (144-66) | 2017: 4-7

PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS *QB Sam Kenerson (5-11, 165, Jr.), *RB Isaiah Rankins (5-8, 160, Jr.), *TE Le’Derrick Thomas (5-11, 180, Sr.), *TE Parker Evans (6-2, 205, Sr.), *SE Destin Franklin (5-6, 140, Sr.), SE Jaylyn Murphy (6-2, 185, Sr.), OT Peyton Hunt (6-3, 280, Sr.), *OG Dakota Dupree (5-8, 190, Sr.), *OT Andrew Cangelosi (5-11, 220, Jr.), *OG Logan Scott (6-2, 260, Jr.), *C Max Bryant (5-11, 230, Sr.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS DE Skylar Scott (6-0, 230, So.), DE Tyler Scott (6-1, 230, So.), *DT Jovonte Whiten (5-11, 225, Jr.), DT Tyler James (5-9, 220, Sr.), *LB Drew Lasseigne (6-3, 225, Sr.), LB Mathew Hunt (5-11, 195, Sr.), *DB Jacoby Putman (5-10, 170, Sr.), DB Anthony Shaffer (6-0, 200, Sr.), DB Harold Henderson (5-10, 165, Jr.), DB Parker Evans (6-2, 205, Sr.), DB Kam Sartin (5-11, 175, Sr.) BIGGEST STRENGTHS A balanced number of returning starters on offense and defense is a strength for the Wildcats. In powerful 4-5A, Central is cast as an underdog, and the Wildcats can make that a strength. SEASON FORECAST Finding a level of consistency and avoiding injuries at key positions will be pivotal for the Wildcats. In QB Sam Kenerson, Central has a dynamic playmaker who should be better as a second-year starter.

DENHAM SPRINGS COACH: Bill Conides (40-11) | 2017: 6-5 PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS QB Luke Lunsford (6-3, 200), *RB Treveon Muse (5-10, 218), *WR DJ Williams (6-1, 198), *WR Kaleb Drummer (5-8, 168), *WR/TE Brycen Longley (6-1, 211), *WR Hunter Bond (6-1, 191), LT Alex Harris (6-3, 278), *LG Jake Evans (6-1, 269), *C Lake Thorburn (6-3, 265), RG Leo Montanez (5-10, 215), *RT Braylon Elerby (6-3, 284) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS *DE Kaydon Berard (6-0, 245, Jr.), DE

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BELAIRE | CENTRAL | DENHAM SPRINGS | LIVE OAK SCOTLANDVILLE | WALKER | ZACHARY

Katgut Hart (5-11, 211, Sr.), DT Choppa Johnson (5-10, 227, So.), *LB Tristan Duhe (6-0, 207, Jr.), LB Davion Nassri (6-0, 218, Sr.), LB Brennan Leblanc (5-10, 209, Sr.), *DB Cade Cole (5-9, 190, Jr.), DB Hayden Horne (6-3, 200, Jr.), *DB Caleb Young (6-0, 178, Sr.), DB EJ Burgess (6-0, 183, Sr.) BIGGEST STRENGTHS With only a handful of defensive starters returning, Conides’ “modern football” offense will take center stage. The Yellow Jackets also are more athletic than others may see. SEASON FORECAST It is no secret that Conides loves to throw the ball, and in his second season the Yellow Jackets will likely go as far as QB Luke Lunsford and the offense move them. Ball-control by pass? It can happen.

LIVE OAK COACH: Brett Beard (48-45) | 2017: 7-6 PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS *QB Sal Palermo (6-2, 195, Sr.), *RB Kee Hawkins (5-11, 230, Jr.), *OL Matt Kiger (6-2, 255, Sr.), OL Kevin Bowen (5-11, 270, Jr.), OL Lofflin Coley (6-0, 285, Sr.), OL Will Lemoine (6-2, 220, Jr.), OL Gage Thibodaux (6-3, 270, Sr.), *RB Hagen Long (6-0, 220, Jr.), WR Grant Richardson (6-2, 170, Sr.), WR Darian Ricard (6-1, 150, Jr.), HB Wesley Daigle (5-10, 195, Sr.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS *DL Jalen Lee (6-4, 290, Jr.), *SS Eli Johnson (6-0, 200, Sr.), DL Tyler Braun (6-2, 220, Jr.), *DL Peyton Johnson (6-1, 205, Sr.), OLB Bret McCoy (6-0, 200, Jr.), OLB Austin Bozeman (6-0, 195, Sr.), *ILB Blake Robinson (6-1, 225, Sr.), *ILB Gabe Kimble (5-11, 235, Jr.), *FS Cameron Dickerson 5-11, 180, Sr.), CB Tanner Martin (5-11, 185, Sr.), CB Taylor Martin (5-11, 185, Sr.) BIGGEST STRENGTHS Confidence is a major advantage for any football program and the Eagles have it, thanks to last year’s playoff run. The Eagles’ returning cast is solid, too. SEASON FORECAST After advancing to the quarterfinals for the first time in school history last fall, the Eagles look to soar again. An offensive change to I-Flex is notable. Look for RB Kee Hawkins emerge as one of the area’s top rushers.

SCOTLANDVILLE COACH: Jules Sullen (58-45) | 2017: 9-2 PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS *TE Colby Turner (6-4, 220, Jr.), *SE Jalen Womack (6-1, 200, Sr.), *OT Martrell Thomas (6-0, 240, Jr.), OG Spence Thomas (6-3, 250, Jr.), C Devonte Campbell (6-0, 245, Jr.), OG Jacore Joseph (6-3, 270, Jr.), OT Kendrick Ryans (6-0, 230, Jr.), *QB Cameron Armstead (5-10, 175, Sr.), RB Jacorey James (5-11, 175, Sr.), RB Jerimiah Arvis (5-5, 180, Jr.), *RB Jontrail Taylor (5-9, 170, Sr.), K/P Cole Crenshaw (Jr.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS DE Tyler Annison (6-1, 220, Sr.), *DE Davin Myers (6-1, 265, Sr.), *DT William Myers (6-0, 310, Sr.), DT Courtney Daigle (6-0, 315, Sr.), *LB Jimyen Rufit (6-1, 220, Sr.), LB Daryl Henderson (5-11, 205, Sr.), LB Mike Brown (5-11, 190, So.), LB Javon Grisby (5-11, 180, So.), DB Chris Daigle (5-11, 180, Jr.), DB Briston Jake (5-10, 175, Sr.), DB Nick Williams (5-10, 175, Sr.)

FORECAST

BIGGEST STRENGTHS QB Cameron Armstead is back and so is WR Jalen Womack on offense. The Hornets have size and speed on defense. SEASON FORECAST The Hornets are the X-Factor in 4-5A. There’s a first-year coach in Jules Sullen, and two stars, RB Trenton Charles and DB Kelvin Joseph, graduated. Talent remains, but how fast can Scotlandville put it all together? We’ll see.

WALKER COACH: Lester Ricard Jr. (11-10) | 2017: 6-5

PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS *WR Trent Montgomery (6-3, 180), *WR Jalen Cook (6-1, 185), WR Brian Thomas (6-4, 190), HB Liam Diagle (5-6, 190), RB Demitri Wright (5-8, 180), OL Garrett Emmons (6-2, 220), OL Zachary Zim/ Blade Thompson, OL Timmy Lawson (61, 260), OL TJ Taylor (6-1, 290), OL Isiah Zachery (6-3, 290) P/K Bradly Cain (5-8, 170), QB Landon Adams/Christian Ard/ Ethan McMasters PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS OLB Ke’Andre Ventress (5-10, 210), OLB Dakota Wilson/Tyler Whittington, DL Kobe Baylock (6-1, 290), DL Jerome Wilson (5-8, 270), DL Dylan Sharp (6-3, 220), SS Keondre Brown (6-0, 200), *SS BJ Lockhart (5-8, 185), FS Calvin Watson (5-10, 180), DB Kolbe Moncree (6-1, 175), DB TJ Briley (5-9, 180) BIGGEST STRENGTHS The skill players led by WRs Jalen Cook, Trent Montgomery and Brian Thomas. All three QBs are impressive too, along with DB BJ Lockhart. SEASON FORECAST This could be the year the Wildcats make history with a deep playoff run in Class 5A. Walker is loaded at the skill positions. How quickly first-year starters on the O-line develop is crucial.

ZACHARY COACH: David Brewerton (105-36) 2017: 13-2 PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS *QB Keilon Brown (6-1, 183, Jr.), RB Ryan Allen (5-8, 175, Jr.), SE Chris Hilton (6-1, 170, So.), *TE Buddy Davis (6-2, 200, Sr.), *SE Kris Simmons (6-2, 185, Sr.), *SE Chandler Whitfield (5-9, 160, Sr.), *OT Trelon Harris (6-3, 320, Sr.), OG Myles Snowden (5-11, 295, Sr.), *C Kolby Matthews (5-11, 295, Sr.), OG Dylan Landry (6-0, 210, Jr.), *OT Caleb Johnson (6-1, 270, Sr.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS *DE Charles Selders (6-0, 200, Jr.), *DT Caleb Jackson (6-1, 250, Sr.), DT Hunter Bell (5-10, 240, Sr.), DE Cedric Brown (6-1, 229, So.), *LB Kenyon Martin (5-11, 185, Jr.), *LB Taylor Milton (6-2, 212, Sr.), *LB Wes Brady (6-0, 225, Sr.), *LB Maverick McClure (6-2, 210, Jr.), *DB Tyler Judson (6-0, 190, Sr.), DB Kendell Cleveland (5-11, 165, Sr.), DB Sean Burrell (5-11, 175, Jr.) BIGGEST STRENGTHS QB Keilon Brown developed into an elite player last year, and if new starters on the OL develop quickly, the Broncos should not miss a beat. LB Wes Brady and DB Tyler Judson, an Ole Miss commitment, lead the defense. SEASON FORECAST The Broncos have won two 5A titles in the past three years and should be among the favorites again.

District 4-5A has emerged as one the best, if not the best, Class 5A districts in Louisiana over the past three years. Expect more of the same. Defending 5A champion Zachary and quarterfinalist Live Oak figure to lead the charge, with the Broncos being a favorite to repeat in 4-5A and 5A. Division I semifinalist Scotlandville has a new coach and lots of talent. Possibilities abound for others, led by Walker. 1. Zachary 5. Denham Springs 6. Central 2. Live Oak T3. Walker and Scotlandville 7. Belaire

TOP PLAYERS KEILON BROWN, QB, ZACHARY: What can Brown do for the Broncos in 2018? He earned all-state honors and led his team to a 5A title as a sophomore, with 2,125 yards passing yards and 1,188 yards rushing. It will be fun to see what happens. JALEN COOK, WR, WALKER: Another electrifying junior, Cook excelled in his first football season last fall with 27 catches for 477 yards and 5 TDs. The good news? The Wildcats have other impressive targets that should open up opportunities for Cook, who helped Walker win a 5A basketball title last spring. WES BRADY, LB, ZACHARY: You won’t find Brady’s name at the top of recruiting lists, but his uncanny nose for the football served the Broncos well during their run to the Class 5A title. He sits in the middle of a defense that helps set the tone.

TOP GAMES Zachary at Scotlandville, Oct. 26 Central at Denham Springs, Oct. 26 Live Oak at Walker, Oct. 26

BEST RIVALRY Zachary and Scotlandville haven’t been rivals long, but many of their games have been notable. The Broncos’ blowout win in the rain last year not withstanding, Scotlandville won in 2016 and went to a Division I title game. A 2015 win was a springboard to Zachary’s first title.

BY THE NUMBERS

5

71

58

620

4-5A returns five starting quarterbacks among seven teams, quite a base of strength.

Central and Denham Springs will meet for the 71st time. Their rivalry dates to 1948.

DSHS OL Jake Evans’ number, honoring the late Joey Chustz, an ex-star and assistant coach.

Squat lift total by 170-pound Walker DB B.J. Lockhart during workouts in a viral video.

Robin Fambrough

SCHEDULES BELAIRE Aug. 31 at White Castle Sept. 7 Northeast Sept. 14 at Brusly Sept. 21 at Denham Springs* Sept. 28 at Central* Oct. 5 at Scotlandville* Oct. 12 at Walker* Oct. 19 at Live Oak* Oct. 26 at Glen Oaks Nov. 1 at Zachary*

CENTRAL Aug. 31 Dunham Sept. 7 at Dutchtown Open date Sept. 21 Scotlandville* Sept. 28 Belaire* Oct. 5 at Live Oak* Oct. 12 Brusly Oct. 19 Zachary* Oct. 26 at Denham Springs* Nov. 2 Walker*

DENHAM SPRINGS Aug. 31 at Hammond Sept. 7 Ponchatoula Sept. 14 Fontainebleau Sept. 21 Belaire* Sept. 28 at Live Oak* Oct. 5 Ferriday Oct. 12 Zachary* Oct. 19 at Walker* Oct. 26 Central* Nov. 2 Scotlandville*

LIVE OAK Aug. 31 Woodlawn Sept. 7 at Mandeville Sept. 14 West Feliciana Sept. 21 at Zachary* Sept. 28 Denham Springs* Oct. 5 Central* Oct. 12 at Scotlandville* Oct. 19 Belaire* Oct. 26 at Walker* Nov. 2 at Holy Cross

SCOTLANDVILLE Aug. 31 McKinley Sept. 7 Madison Prep Sept. 14 at Southern Lab Sept. 21 at Central* Sept. 28 Walker* Oct. 5 Belaire* Oct. 12 Live Oak* Open date Oct. 26 Zachary* Nov. 2 at Denham Springs*

WALKER Aug. 31 at Dutchtown Sept. 6 at Broadmoor Sept. 14 Slidell Sept. 21 Parkview Baptist Sept. 28 at Scotlandville* Oct. 5 at Zachary* Oct. 12 Belaire* Oct. 19 Denham Springs* Oct. 26 Live Oak* Nov. 2 at Central*

ZACHARY Aug. 31 at Northshore Sept. 7 at Catholic Sept. 14 Madison Prep Sept. 21 Live Oak* Sept. 28 University Lab Oct. 5 Walker* Oct. 12 at Denham Springs* Oct. 19 at Central* Oct. 26 at Scotlandville* Nov. 1 Belaire* *­—4-5A games


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DISTRICT 5-5A

McKINLEY

COACH: Guy Mistretta (123-49) | 2017: 7-5

PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS C Christian Berthold, G Darius Powell, G John Nash, TBrandon Lynum, T Daniel Naquin, *RB Dedrick Talbert, QB Dimarco Nobles, WR Kaynell Tyler, WR Najee Jones, WR Malik Mitchell, WR Tyler McNair PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS *DE Mike Foster, DE Ire Coleman, DT Jason Jackson, DT Terry Hillard, LB Chris Beard, LB Quinterrious Winn, LB Desmond Robertson, *DB Patrick Lee, DB Cameron White, DB Donald Jones, DB Brannon Hills

PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS *LT Harley Huang (5-10, 225, Sr.), LG Jacob Williams (6-1, 230, Sr.), *C Riley Lawrence (6-2, 240, Jr.), RG Michael Periera (5-10, 225, Jr.), RT Kade Goodman (5-10, 240, Jr.), TE Jadyn McKinney (6-1, 185, Jr.), *WR Terry Matthews (5-9, 165, Sr.), WR Dajan Watkins (5-7, 165, Jr.), WR Eric Coleman (6-0, 165, Sr.), RB Blayden Louis (5-10, 170, Jr.), QB Dre Monroe (6-0, 190, Sr.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS *DE Hayden Willis (5-11, 200 Sr.), *NT Shane Levy (5-11, 250, Sr.), DE Jyron Blakes (5-11, 195, Jr.), LB Johmel Jolla (5-10, 185, Jr.), *LB Reggie Spears (5-10, 185, Sr.), LB Tavian Bishop (5-11, 180, Sr.), CB Logan Scott (5-7, 150, Jr.), *CB Jordan Jackson (5-9, 145, Sr.), SS Brett Latiolais (5-8, 155, Jr.), SS Jordan Spears (5-9, 160, Jr.), FS Lamarcus Jones (5-10, 170, Sr.)

COACH: Robert Signater (71-53) 2017: 4-7

PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS *QB Cameron Dartez (6-1, 185, Sr.), *SE Greg Martin (6-1, 185, Sr.), *SE Forrest Roy (6-1, 175, Sr.)/Edward Franics (6-0, 165, Sr.), *TE Brandon Hubicz (6-3, 225, Sr.), RB LC Benjamin (6-1, 205, Jr.)/ Josh Parker (5-10, 190, Jr.), RB Braelen Morgan (5-7, 155, Jr.)/Jake Outlaw (5-11, 190, Jr.), *OT Truett Bankston (6-3, 280, Sr.), *OT Hunter Chauncy (6-2, 240, Sr.), OG Joseph Alexander (6-3, 290, Jr.), OG Cole Miller (5-10, 240, Jr.)/Thomas Beale (5-10, 260, Jr.), *C Brian Hibbard (6-1, 225, Jr.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS*DE Elijah Reames (6-3, 240, Sr.), *DT Connor Finucane (6-3, 275, Jr.), DT Christian Mannino (6-1, 240, So.), DE John Landry (6-1, 210, Sr.), LB Hayden Shaheen (5-11, 210, Jr.), LB Patrick Delatte (5-11, 210, Jr.), LB Harper Massey (5-11, 190, Sr.)/ Landon Richard (5-10, 200, Sr.), DB Jaylin Armwood (6-2, 195, Sr.), DB Tywon McDowell (6-2, 180, Sr.), *DB Jonathan Mestayer (6-1, 180, Sr.), DB Evan Venable (5-10, 190, Sr.) BIGGEST STRENGTHS Having Dartez (1,654 yards, 10 TDs passing) back is a big plus along with four players who had at least 15 receptions, led by WR Forrest Roy (29-282-2). The defense returns only three starters, but two of them are big time playmakers: DE Elijah Reames (23 TFL, 11 sacks, 3 blocked kicks) and DB Jonathan Metstayer (6 INTs, 1 blocked kick). SEASON FORECAST The Bears enter 2018 on the same roll that carried them to the Division I select state title after a third-place district finish. Starting quarterback and state finals MVP Dartez is one of seven offensive starts back, and Fertitta likes his team’s chances against perhaps the toughest schedule in the state.

BIGGEST STRENGTHS Quarterback Dre Monroe returns after taking over late in the season and engineering two victories, including a playoff win. Hayden Willis moves from NG to DE-LB to lead the small, but feisty, defense. DB Jordan Jackson gives the Griffins a D-I college talent in the secondary and on kick returns. SEASON FORECAST The Griffins are on much better footing entering Year 2 under Guy Mistretta, with the full offseason program bringing improved discipline and structure. Dutchtown will have to rely on quickness against its bigger district foes, and will have to grow up quick after losing 14 starters.

EAST ASCENSION COACH: Darnell Lee (26-27) | 2017: 9-3 PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS *QB Jason Wakefield (6-0, 175, Sr.), *RB Nick Massey (5-9, 165, Sr.), *SE Shaivonn Robinson (6-1, 170, Sr.), SE Jyrin Johnson (6-0, 175, Jr.), *SE Markquell Stewart (5-11, 180, Sr.), SE Armarius Williams (5-8, 175, Jr.), *OT Ahmand Diggs (6-3, 295, Sr.), *OT Isaac Redditt (6-2, 300, Sr.), *C Falepule Alo (6-2, 330, Jr.), *OG Cooper Ducote (5-11, 275, Sr.), OG Brendon Wenzy (5-9, 358, Jr.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS *DE Deshon Hall (6-2, 250, Sr.), *DT Stanford Knockum (5-10, 305, Sr.), DE Damon McDonald (6-2, 225, Sr.), LB Jacolby Reed (5-10, 210, Sr.), LB Javon Carter (6-2, 225, Jr.), LB Da’Jon Jones (63, 210, Jr.), *LB Derrick Smith (5-9, 195, Sr.), *DB Jaqunn Mitchell (5-9, 175, So.), *DB Jalen Norman, 5-9, 178, Sr.), DB Tahj Ballard (5-9, 170, Sr.), DB Kydrius Follins (5-9, 185, Jr.) BIGGEST STRENGTHS Returning starting QB Jason Wakefield (1,419 yards, 12 TS passing) is faster and stronger, and he’s got a pair of 6-feet plus wide receivers to throw to. DE Deshon Hall (12 sacks) heads up the defense, whose line is anchored by 305-pound NT Stanford Knockum (14 TFL, 2 sacks). DB Jaqunn Mitchell (5 int.) makes the defense strong front to back. SEASON FORECAST This could be the breakthrough year for the Spartans, who are loaded with size, speed and returning starters after sharing the 5-5A title last season. The district title likely will come down to a cage match against Catholic on Oct. 19.

PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS RB Jordan Joseph, Sr.; RB Manny Knighten, Sr.; QB Chancellor Hitchens, Sr.; RB/WR Eugene Bradley, Sr.; RB/ WR Tre Lowery RB/WR, OL Desmond Smart, Sr. PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS LB Gavin Bonilla, Sr.; SS Collie Mansion,Sr.; DB Germain Hawkins, Sr.; DB Makenzie Kemp, Sr.; LB Kentrell Freeman, Sr.; FS Jordan Joseph. BIGGEST STRENGTHS The Panthers have 20 seniors who either started or played a crucial role last season. RB Eugene Bradley is their top offensive threat while senior Chancellor Hitchens and Noah Johnson battle for the quarterback job. Returning all-district linebacker Gavin Bonilla anchors the defense. SEASON FORECAST LHSAA sanctions, including a two-year postseason ban, issued in July have sent the school reeling, and the Panthers are not expected to be a factor. The best news is that Robert Signater has returned after a two-year hiatus to try to rebuild from the ashes.

BROADMOOR

CATHOLIC Aug. 30 Parkview Baptist Sept. 7 Zachary Sept. 14 University Lab Sept. 21 at St. Thomas More Sept. 28 at Teurlings Catholic Oct. 5 St. Amant* Oct. 12 McKinley* Oct. 19 at East Ascension* Oct. 26 Dutchtown* Nov. 2 at Broadmoor*

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ST. AMANT COACH: David Oliver (64-35) | 2017: 10-2 PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS *TE Noah Hebert (6-1, 210, Sr.), SE Jo Williams (Sr.), OT Taewn Thibodaux (Sr.), OG Jackson McCarry (Sr.), *C Beau Gremillion (6-3, 340, Sr.), OG Grant Bourque (Sr.), OT Tyler Oliver (Sr.), QB Kaleb Thompson (5-10, 175, Sr.)/Nathan Bourgeois (5-10, 190, Jr.), RB Reggie Sims (So.), WR Caleb Mayers (Sr.), Broc Becnec (Jr.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS OLB Ke’Andre Ventress (5-10, 210), OLB Dakota Wilson/Tyler Whittington, DL Kobe Baylock (6-1, 290), DL Jerome Wilson (5-8, 270), DL Dylan Sharp (6-3, 220), SS Keondre Brown (6-0, 200), *SS BJ Lockhart (5-8, 185), FS Calvin Watson (5-10, 180), DB Kolbe Moncree (6-1, 175), DB TJ Briley (5-9, 180) BIGGEST STRENGTHS The skill players led by WRs Jalen Cook, Trent Montgomery and Brian Thomas. All three QBs are impressive too, along with DB BJ Lockhart. SEASON FORECAST Skill players like TE Noah Hebert, RB Reggie Sims and WR K.J. Franklin give the Gators some explosiveness. Franklin is primarily a DB (8 INTs) but had a combined 621 yards and five TDs rushing and receiving. Oliver hasn’t ruled out using two quarterbacks, which could be a problem for foes’ preparation.

It looks like another year of four teams slugging it out in one of the state’s toughest leagues. Catholic and East Ascension may be a cut above and make it a two-team race. Both are loaded with returning starters, including at quarterback. The Bruins are coming off a state title run, and the Spartans will be fueled by their narrow playoff loss to Live Oak. St.Amant and Dutchtown likely will fight it out for third place. 1. East Ascension 4. Dutchtown 2. Catholic 5. Broadmoor 3. St. Amant 6. McKinley

TOP PLAYERS CAMERON DARTEZ, QB, CATHOLIC: He connected on 164 of 265 passes for 1,654 yards and 10 TDs. He also ran for 275 yards and two more scores. He coolly guided the Bears through the playoffs and won the MVP award for the championship game victory against John Curtis, going 22 of 31 for 206 yards and a TD. DESHON HALL, DE, EAST ASCENSION: A first team all-district pick, he had 13 tackles for loss with 12 sacks. The 6-feet-2, 250 pound senior is a Louisiana Tech commitment. K.J. FRANKLIN, DB, ST. AMANT: He was a two-way player and averaged 10.6 yards per carry as a runner with four TDs. He caught 28 passes for 323 yards and another score. He was even better on defense with eight interceptions while also serving as a dangerous punt and kickoff returner. He scored four TDs in the Gators’ spring game.

TOP GAMES St. Amant at Catholic, Oct. 5 Catholic at East Ascension, Oct. 19 St. Amant at East Ascension, Nov. 2

BEST RIVALRY St. Amant and EA have been slugging it out for four decades. It was only fitting last year that they shared the district title. St. Amant knocked off the Spartans, who were previously unbeaten in district play. The Gators lead the series, 20-18.

BY THE NUMBERS

311

22

2

10

Average weight of EA’s starting offensive line

Playoff points allowed by ’17 state champion Catholic in 4 games

Dutchtown defensive starters weighing 200 pounds or more

Years as St. Amant’s head coach for David Oliver, the dean in 5-5A

Jim Kleinpeter

SCHEDULES Aug. 30 Tara Sept. 6 Walker Sept. 14 at Woodlawn Sept. 21 at Southern Lab Sept. 27 Kentwood Oct. 5 at McKinley* Oct. 12 East Ascension* Oct. 19 at Dutchtown* Oct. 26 at St. Amant* Nov. 2 Catholic*

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FORECAST

DUTCHTOWN

COACH: Gabe Fertitta (27-20) | 2017: 11-3

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

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EAST ASCENSION | McKINLEY | ST. AMANT

COACH: Elliott Wilkins (3-27) | 2017: 1-9

CATHOLIC

theadvocate.com

BROADMOOR | CATHOLIC | DUTCHTOWN

BROADMOOR

BIGGEST STRENGTHS Broadmoor will have plenty of experience with nine senior starters on offense and eight on defense. The offense will build around RB Dedrick Talbert, who rushed for 425 yards last year. Senior Dimarco Nobles has nailed down the starting quarterback job after moving from wide receiver. SEASON FORECAST The Bucs should move up past McKinley after going 1-9 without a district victory in 2017. Breaking into the top four is going to be a tall order, although Wilkins says it’s the best Bucs team in five years.

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DUTCHTOWN Aug. 31 Walker Sept. 7 Central Sept. 14 at Covington Sept. 21 Sci Academy Sept. 28 Lutcher Oct. 5 at East Ascension* Oct. 12 at St. Amant* Oct. 19 Broadmoor* Oct. 26 at Catholic* Nov. 1 McKinley*

EAST ASCENSION Aug. 31 Lutcher Sept. 7 at Parkview Baptist Sept. 14 at Thibodaux Sept. 21 Cecilia Sept. 28 at St. Charles Oct. 5 Dutchtown* Oct. 12 at Broadmoor* Oct. 19 Catholic* Oct. 26 at McKinley* Nov. 2 St. Amant*

McKINLEY Aug 31 at Scotlandville Sept. 6 at Capitol Sept. 14 Baker Sept. 21 Livonia Sept. 28 at Cecilia Oct. 5 Broadmoor* Oct. 12 at Catholic* Oct. 19 St. Amant* Oct. 26 East Ascension* Nov. 1 at Dutchtown*

ST. AMANT Aug. 31 Kennedy Sept. 7 Helen Cox Sept. 14 West Jefferson Sept. 21 at Lutcher Sept. 28 St. James Oct. 5 at Catholic* Oct. 12 Dutchtown* Oct. 19 at McKinley* Oct. 26 Broadmoor* Nov. 2 at East Ascension* *—5-5A games


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DISTRICT 6-4A

LUTCHER | PARKVIEW BAPTIST | PLAQUEMINE ST. MICHAEL | TARA | WOODLAWN

FORECAST

LUTCHER

PLAQUEMINE

TARA

COACH: Dwain Jenkins (42-25) | 2017: 4-7

COACH: Paul Distefano (70-33) | 2017: 8-3

PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS *OL Drake LaFleur (6-0, 235, Jr.), *OL Alex Beier (6-3, 245, Sr.), *OL Josh Taylor (5-11, 245, Sr.), OL DQ Alexander (6-1, 230, Jr.), OL Jacoi Kelson/Colten Poche, *WR Jacoby Williams (6-0, 190, Jr.), *WR Rasohn Williams (5-11, 150, Jr.), WR Copeland Williams (So.)/ Cam Amato (Jr.)/Javian Jacque (Jr.), *RB Rondell Mealey (6-0, 180, Sr.), *QB Kolby Bourgeois (5-11, 190, Sr.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS *DL Jamel Thomas (5-11, 270, Jr.), DL Bryce Scott (5-9, 285, So.), *DL Jamal Thomas (6-2, 250, Sr.), *LB Seth LeBlanc (5-10, 180, Sr.), *LB Chris Burkhalter (6-0, 190, Jr.), *DB Zane McCrary (5-10, 175, Sr.), *LB Ivan Clark (5-10, 170, Jr.), DB Rashaud Long (5-10, 160, Jr.), *DB Dajon Brown (5-6, 150, Sr.), *DB Rhett Whitney (5-11, 155, Jr.), *DB Tre Stewart (5-11, 165, Jr.)

PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS *QB Herb Thomas (5-11, 180, Sr.), *RB Melvin McClay (5-8, 165, Jr.), RB Earl Young (5-7, 142, Jr.), RB Dallas Ropari (5-10, 180, Sr.), *SE Dontavion Wicks (6-3, 205, Sr.), TE Carnell Scott (6-0, 255, Sr.), *OT Brockhim Wicks (6-2, 310, Sr.), *OT Dalen Sanders (6-0, 285, Jr.), *C Zayien Bouvay (6-0, 280, Sr.), OG O’Darius Jackson (5-11, 265, Sr.), *OG Marquise Brown (5-10, 245, Sr.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS DT Cullen Scott (6-2, 290, Jr.), DE Kenneth Smith (5-11, 211, Sr.), DE Dekeion Dupuy (5-8, 220, So.), *LB Herman Christophe (6-0, 230, Sr.), *LB De’Onte Russ (5-9, 180, Sr.), LB Montreal Robertson (5-11, 200, Sr.), LB Christian Jenkins (511, 185, Sr.), *DB J’Vonte Powers (5-10, 175, Sr.), *DB Vincent Collins (5-11, 165, Sr.), *DB Khamoran Riley (6-0, 175, Sr.), DB Anthony Collins (5-10, 155, Sr.)

COACH: Terry Washington (4-16) 2017: 3-7

BIGGEST STRENGTHS Nine returning starters on defense should set the tone while LHS offensive recalibrates with a new corps of receivers and RB Rondell Mealey, son of the former LSU star, in key roles. SEASON FORECAST The return to Class 4A in 2017 after back-to-back 3A titles was not a happy one. Expect the Bulldogs to reverse their fortunes by relying on a stingy defense.

BIGGEST STRENGTHS The Green Devils like to run the ball and with an offensive line that has three players who weigh 280 or more they should be able to control the line of scrimmage. SEASON FORECAST Injuries at key positions kept the Green Devils from making a deeper playoff run a year ago. The return of QB Herb Thomas from a broken hip boosts the offense, and LB Herman Christophe leads the defense that must build on a tough nondistrict schedule to thrive.

PARKVIEW BAPTIST COACH: Jay Mayet (35-15) | 2017: 8-4

ST. MICHAEL

PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS QB Colton Jumonville (6-3, 215, Sr.), FB Connor Reid (5-9, 200, Sr.), *RB Terry Tolliver (5-9, 170), *RB Darrel Cyprian (5-8, 170, Sr.), *WR Kyle Washington (6-2, 185, Sr.), WR Hayden Warren (5-9, 165, Sr.), TE DeSanto Rollins (6-4, 285, Jr.), T Colin Teague (6-0, 230, Sr.), T Schaffer Cobb (6-3, 225, Sr.), *G Hamdi Sheikha (6-1, 290, Sr.), G Damian Sibley (6-2, 285, Sr.), C Sam Hodges (6-1, 225, So.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS*DE DE DeSanto Rollins (6-4, 290, Jr.), DE Matthew Shannon (6-1, 225, Jr.), NT Hamdi Sheikha (6-1, 290, Sr.), LB Ian Pourciau (6-2, 205, So.), LB David Murla (6-1, 220, So.), LB Conner Reid (5-8, 195, Sr.),*LB Colton Jumonville (6-3, 215, Sr.), *CB Darrell Cyprian (5-8, 165, Sr.), CB Dustin Philippe (6-1, 190, Sr.), *CB Terry Tolliver (5-8, 175, Sr.), *CB Hayden Warren (5-9, 165, Sr.), FS Kyle Washington (6-2, 195, Sr.)

COACH: Joey Sanchez (14-14) | 2017: 3-7

BIGGEST STRENGTHS Tradition that dates to a 2001 LHSAA title in Class 3A and that always toughto-defend option offense. SEASON FORECAST The best thing about the Eagles is their offensive and defensive systems have been in place for nearly 20 years. PBS embraces the next-man-up philosophy as well as any program, and it should be on full display again.

PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS C Jacob McCann, Jr.; *OG C.J. Casma, Sr., OG Payton LeBlanc, Sr.; OT Jacob Finley, Sr.; OT Demond Garner, Jr.; TE Luke Wilson, Jr.; QB Cole Garafola, Sr.; *FB Chris Sehring, Sr.; TY Mark Cook, Sr. Jaren Reimonenq, Sr.; Matt Howard, Jr.; SE Zach Josephson, Sr. SE Daniel Robin, Jr. Cade Burton, Jr. PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS *DE Luke Wilson, Jr.; *DE Chris Sehring, Sr.; DE Mark Albano, So.; DT C.J. Casma, Sr., DT Demond Garner, Jr.; DT Zach Donahue, So.; *LB Taylor Marcello, Sr.; LB Garret Mumphrey, So.; LB Jacob Finley, Sr.; LB Connor Badeaux, Jr.; *CB Jaren Reimonenq, Sr.; *CB Christian Redden, Sr.; CB Codi Williams, So.; S Nic Brister, Sr. BIGGEST STRENGTHS A coaching staff led by Sanchez and offensive coordinator James Cupit has experienced success in other places and is a nice fit for a program looking for stability. SEASON FORECAST Sanchez is the third SMHS head coach in three years. If the Warriors can execute to a Parkview-like option offense well enough, greater success will follow.

PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS *QB Brandon Jordan (6-1, 175, Sr.), *RB Demetrius Calhoun (5-7, 155, Jr.), *WR Larry Smith (6-0, 160, Sr.), *WR Jadarius Givens (5-11, 175, Sr.), *C Kyle Robinson (5-10, 240, Sr.), *OL Terry Delaney (6-3, 285, Jr.), *OL Kirk Smith (6-1, 290, Jr.), *OL Jordan Cameron (6-1, 280, Sr.), *HB Omar Allen (6-3, 205, Sr.), *OL Fredrick Patrick (5-11, 280, Jr.), *OL Jordan Coleman (6-1, 280, Sr.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS *DT Jeremiah Anderson (5-10, 265, Sr.), *DT Lamont Hollis (5-10, 240, Sr.), *DT David Hueing (6-0, 245, Jr.), *DB Kashoune Miller (5-8, 140, Jr.), *DB Bricen Jordan (5-11, 170, Jr.), *LB Darrius Brooks (5-11, 210, Sr.), *DL Terry Delaney (6-3, 285, Jr.), LB Judah Hooper (6-0, 215, Jr.), LB Jamie Sanders (6-1, 205, Sr.), SS Jadarius Givens (5-11, 175, Sr.), FS Larry Smith (6-0, 160, Sr.) BIGGEST STRENGTHS A core group of experienced linemen should help set the tone on both sides of the ball for Tara. SEASON FORECAST The Trojans need to capitalize early and get predistrict wins in order to build momentum before 6-4A play. Keeping two-way players healthy is a must.

WOODLAWN COACH: Daniel Luquet (15-18) | 2017: 6-5

PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS QB Josh Serio (5-11, 180), RB Jonero Scott (5-11, 185), *WR Tyrell Smith (6-3, 200), *WR Bryson Reaser (5-10, 180), WR Julius Bowie (5-10, 176), WR Caleb Blanchard (6-1, 186), LT Jevon Winfrey (6-0, 210), *LG Kenneth Augustus (5-11, 250), C Daylen Hardy (6-0, 210), RT Tim Bennett (5-10, 270), RG Joe Sant (5-10, 200) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS *DT Kenneth Augustus (5-11, 250), DT Jason Jones (6-3, 200), NG Kevin Perry (6-0, 215), LB Daylen Hardy (6-0, 210), LB Tyrell Smith (6-3, 200), LB Tyler Williams (5-11, 220), LB Joe Sant (5-10, 200), DB Julius Bowie (5-10, 176), DB Bryant Jacob (5-10, 175), DB Cameron Rogers (5-10, 180), DB Lanard Harris (6-0, 185), *K/P Jacob Barnes (5-10, 175) BIGGEST STRENGTHS Kicker/punter Jacob Barnes is the area’s top returning kicker and will be a weapon for the offense and defense. SEASON FORECAST The Panthers entered the fall with a significant number of players competing for spots in the lineup. If the offense and defense mesh early, good things will follow.

Parkview Baptist won the 6-4A title in its Class 4A debut last year and is again the favorite. Both Lutcher and Plaquemine have the pedigree and talent to make it a three-team competition worth watching. There are nice contrasts too with the hard-running style of PBS and Plaquemine vs. the controlled passing of Lutcher. 1. Parkview Baptist 4. Woodlawn 2. Lutcher 5. Tara 3. Plaquemine 6. St. Michael

TOP PLAYERS DONTAVION WICKS, WR/ATH, PLAQUEMINE: The Green Devils are known for having explosive playmakers, and Wicks fits that mold. Look for PHS to devise multiple ways to get the ball in his hands. JACOBY WILLIAMS, WR, LUTCHER: From former LSU star Jarvis Landry of the Cleveland Browns to last year’s senior leader, Gregory Clayton, the Bulldogs have a reputation for producing top receivers. Williams is up next. JACOB BARNES, PK/P WOODLAWN: With his ability to pin opponents deep on punts/kickoffs and convert on long field goals, Barnes is a specialist who will play a key role in everything the Panthers do.

TOP GAMES St. Amant at Catholic, Oct. 5 Catholic at East Ascension, Oct. 19 St. Amant at East Ascension, Nov. 2

BEST RIVALRY Lutcher vs. Plaquemine: These two teams go back beyond Lutcher’s recent history that includes two LHSAA Class 3A titles. When the two teams were 4A rivals before, Plaquemine ended a string of Lutcher district titles with a win at LHS. More intense battles have followed.

BY THE NUMBERS

8

13

47

48

Number of twoway starters projected for Parkview Baptist this season

Combined number of LHSAA football titles won by Lutcher (8) and Parkview (5)

Total number of kickoffs Woodlawn’s Jacob Barnes put in the end zone on 49 chances

Years in coaching for Tara’s Terry Washington (26) and Plaquemine’s Paul Distefano (22)

Robin Fambrough

SCHEDULES LUTCHER Aug. 31 at East Ascension Sept. 7 St. James Sept. 14 at Marksville Sept. 21 St. Amant Sept. 28 at Dutchtown Oct. 5 at Parkview Baptist* Oct. 12 St. Michael* Oct. 19 at Woodlawn-BR* Oct. 26 Tara* Nov. 2 Plaquemine*

PARKVIEW BAPTIST Aug. 30 at Catholic Sept. 7 East Ascension Sept. 14 John Curtis Sept. 21 at Walker Sept. 28 at Southern Lab Oct. 5 Lutcher* Oct. 12 at Plaquemine* Oct. 19 at Tara* Oct. 26 St. Michael* Nov. 2 Woodlawn*

PLAQUEMINE Aug. 31 at East St. John Sept. 7 Port Allen Sept. 14 at St. Thomas More Open date Sept. 28 Ouachita Parish Oct. 5 at Tara* Oct. 12 Parkview Baptist* Oct. 18 at St. Michael* Oct. 26 Woodlawn* Nov. 2 at Lutcher*

ST. MICHAEL Aug. 31 Episcopal Open date Sept. 13 at Dunham Sept. 21 at Lakeview Sept. 28 at Archbishop Hannan Oct. 5 Woodlawn* Oct. 12 at Lutcher* Oct. 18 Plaquemine* Oct. 26 at Parkview Baptist* Nov. 2 Tara*

TARA Aug. 30 at Broadmoor Sept. 7 Glen oaks Sept. 14 at Slaughter Charter Sept. 21 at East Iberville Sept. 28 at Opelousas Oct. 5 Plaquemine* Oct. 11 at Woodlawn* Oct. 19 Parkview Baptist* Oct. 26 at Lutcher* Nov. 2 at St. Michael*

WOODLAWN Aug. 31 at Live Oak Sept. 7 Hammond Sept. 14 Broadmoor Sept. 21 Kennedy Sept. 28 at St. Martinville Oct. 5 at St. Michael* Oct. 11 Tara* Oct. 19 Lutcher* Oct. 26 at Plaquemine* Nov. 2 Parkview Baptist* *—6-4A games


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The Advocate

DISTRICT 6-3A BAKER COACH: Eric Randall (6-15) | 2017: 3-8 PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS QB Tyren Henderson, RB Desmond Windon, FB Trevonte Spears, WR Bryant Williams, WR Tamon Dukes, LT Leroy Womack, LG Jalon Gross, C Nelson Griffith, *RG Dillon Cage, *RT Justin Jones, *TE Marteece Covington PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS *DE Coby Neff, *DE Marteece Covington, *NG Dillon Cage, *DT Justin Jones, *LB Javarious Knox, *LB Kelly Thomas, *LB Darren Scott, *FS Vontrell Bell, *SS Kyle Brumfield, *CB Jeremiah Bell BIGGEST STRENGTHS Running back Desmond Windon is back at Baker and looking to expand on his all-district honors from last year. He ran for more than 1,100 yards in 2017 and could have another explosive season. SEASON FORECAST Baker’s 2017 record may be a little misleading considering the Buffaloes had three losses by 10 or fewer points. If they start winning those close games, maybe 2018 goes better.

BRUSLY PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS QB Nick Pennell, OL DeAndre Richard, OL Devin Eschette, WR Darius Cyprian PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS LB Kyle Parker, LB Vanderbilt Bynum, DB Conner Sorrell, DB Grant Watts, DL Bralon Thymes, DL Marlon Wilson

SEASON FORECAST Glen Oaks is still trying to find its way out of the district cellar after a disappointing 1-9 season. The Panthers will likely battle with Mentorship to not finish last.

MADISON PREP COACH: Landry Williams (5-7) | 2017: 5-7

PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS OL Timothy Leonard, OL Alexander Atkins, OL Roderick Allen, OL Roshaad Singleton, OL Jaylyn McKnight, *WR Joel Williams, WR Jeremiah Winn, WR Malik Palmer, RB Royan Davis, RB Benjamin Stewart, QB Gicole Wright PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS DL Michael Henderson, DL Aaron Daniels, DL Luther Lamotte, DL Myles Runnels, LB Primus Breckinridge, LB Marquise McKnight, LB Tyrin Vessel, S Bertrand Carrell, S Major Burns, CB Joel Williams, CB Tyrell Raby

COACH: Keith Woods | 2017: 0-10

GLEN OAKS COACH: Jack Phillips Jr. (2-18) | 2017: 1-9

PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS TE Jacquez Jackson (5-10, 200, So.), *SE Tavoris Harris (6-0, 170, Jr.), *OT Kendrick Joseph (5-11, 230, Jr.), *OG Adam Hamilton (5-9, 200, Jr.), *C John Mcquirters (5-11, 220, Sr.)/Jaylon Bridgewater (5-10, 220, Jr.), OG Irin Glasper (5-10, 260, So.), *OT Jeffery Stewart (5-11, 200, So.), *QB DeMonte Upkins (6-0, 160, Sr.), *RB Jaylon Kenehen (5-11, 205, Sr.), *RB Le’Troy Lathers (6-2, 190, Sr.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS DE Isaiah Wright (6-3, 240, Sr.), *DE Jeffery Stewart (6-0, 220, So.), *DT JaKendrick Lowe (5-10, 200, So.), DT Jaylor Ard (5-9, 225, Jr.), *LB Jaylon Kinchen (5-11, 205, Sr.), *LB John Mequirter (511, 200, Sr.), LB Jacquez Jackson (5-10, 185, Jr.), LB Kiren Smith (6-2, 180, Jr.), *DB DeMonte Upkins(6-0, 170, Sr.), DB Le’troy Lathers (6-2, 190, Sr.), Tavoris Harris (6-0, 170, Jr.)

BIGGEST STRENGTHS The offense hopefully won’t struggle as much as it did in 2017 with eight retuning starters, including quarterback DeMonte Upkins and running backs Jaylon Kenehen and Le’Troy Lathers.

MENTORSHIP

SEASON FORECAST With a year under coach Hoff Schooler’s belt, Brusly should be poised to improve in 2018. There’s still a lot of work to be done before the Panthers move into the upper portion of the district, though.

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MENTORSHIP ACADEMY | UNIVERSITY | WEST FELICIANA

SEASON FORECAST The Chargers still have a long way to go to prove they belong at the top of the district with U-High and West Feliciana, but a second year in 3A should help. They should again finish in the top half of the standings.

BIGGEST STRENGTHS The Panthers don’t return a ton of players but they do bring back a few key roles from 2017. Three of their five starting offensive linemen are back to protect second-year starter Nick Pennell under center.

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BAKER | BRUSLY | GLEN OAKS | MADISON PREP

BIGGEST STRENGTHS Officially turning over control of the team to former interim head coach Landry Williams should help stabilize Madison Prep from going through those early-season woes it faced in 2017.

COACH: Hoff Schooler (4-6) | 2017: 4-6

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PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS *QB/WR Da’Shun Hugley, *OL Terell Williams, *RB Donovan McCray, *WR/ RB Ian Bell, *OL Kavonne Randolph, *OL Donovan Dorsey, *WR Jeremiah Cummings, *OL Keldrick Greensberry, OL Kedrick Simmons PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS *CB Shamar Powers, *CB Sebastion Maloid, SS Traylon Dotson, *S Da’Shun Hugley, *LB Zyon Mims, *DE Tyrone Dunn, *NG David Duncan, *DE Tyrielle Coates BIGGEST STRENGTHS There’s still a long road ahead for Mentorship, but a new coach in Keith Woods certainly helps. Woods has 21 years of experience, including head coaching gigs at Capitol and Belaire. Having two OLs, Terell Williams and Donovan Dorsey, who weigh over 300 pounds won’t hurt. SEASON FORECAST The Sharks are still seeking their first win since joining Class 3A after going 0-10 in their inaugural campaign. The good news is that there’s literally nowhere to go but up.

FORECAST

UNIVERSITY COACH: Chad Mahaffey (93-20) 2017: 13-0

PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS *QB John Gordon McKernan (6-2, 190, Sr.), *RB Mike Hollins (5-10, 205, Sr.), *WR Christian Harris (6-1, 165, Sr.), *WR Doryan Harris (5-8, 165, Sr.), *WR Makiya Tongue (6-1, 210, Sr.), WR Thomas Teepel (5-10, 165, Sr.), *C Paul Phillips (6-2, 280, Sr.), *G Rashad Green (6-2, 280, Jr.), *G Solomon Miles (6-1, 285, Jr.), *T Dylan Rathcke (6-5, 285, Sr.), *T Mark Coppola (6-1, 230, Sr.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS *DE Jaquelin Roy (6-3, 315, Jr.), *DE Leland Jones (5-11, 205, Sr.), *DT Donald Berniard (5-11, 280, Sr.), *LB Jacob Burke (6-1, 195, Sr.), *LB Bryton Constantin (6-2, 220, Sr.), SS Josh Slaughter (5-9, 165, Jr.), *SS Gideon Cuellar (6-0, 210, Sr.), *FS Will Safford (5-9, 160, Jr.), FS Jardin Gilbert (6-1, 170, So.), *CB Jordan Clark (5-10, 170, Sr.), *CB Christian Harris (6-1, 230, Sr.) BIGGEST STRENGTHS Throw a dart at the roster, and there’s U-High’s strength. But if there’s one area that stands out it’s the astonishing 19 of 22 returning starters on both sides of the ball from a 2017 title team. SEASON FORECAST The Cubs are once again the team to beat in the district and might just be the best team in the state across all classes. U-High won the Division II title last season and there’s no reason to think they won’t be back in New Orleans in 2018.

WEST FELICIANA COACH: Robb Odom | 2017: 14-1 PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS TE Arin Spears, *WR Khiry Morrison, WR Dane Rabalais, OT Chris Emery, OG Brady Smith, *C Tyler Casteel, OG Colton Scott, OT Dalton Leet, QB Bennett Clement, *TB Clayton Howard, FB DJ Cummings, TB Hunter Duos PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS DE Malik Jacob, DT Tyler Casteel, DT Chris Emery, DE O’Koryea Anderson, LB DJ Cummings, LB Jackson Fazio, *R Clayton Howard, SS Hunter Giroir, *FS Khiry Morrison

On paper at least, the entire league is playing for third in 2018. U-High and West Feliciana continue to hold a vice-like grip on the top of the district as the unquestioned best it has to offer. The Cubs, in particular, are an absolute force and could do some serious damage on the way to another district title. 1. University 5. Baker 2. West Feliciana 6. Glen Oaks 3. Madison Prep 7. Mentorship Academy 4. Brusly

TOP PLAYERS CHRISTIAN HARRIS, WR/ILB, U-HIGH: One of the best athletes in the country, Harris is going to be fun to watch in 2018. At 6-foot-1, 225 pounds, Harris is a big body who can play both ways. Texas A&M commitment. KHIRY MORRISON, WR/S, WEST FELICIANA: Probably the biggest piece returning from the 2017 LHSAA 3A title team, Morrison will be crucial to a return run to another title game. Louisiana Tech commitment. BERTRAND CARRELL, S, MADISON PREP: Another high-profile recruit to come out of the district is Carrell, who will lead the Chargers defense from the secondary. An LSU target, Carrell has seen his stock rise over the past few months and could be poised for a big year.

TOP GAMES University at West Feliciana, Sept. 21 West Feliciana at Madison Prep, Oct. 19 University at Madison Prep, Oct. 26

BEST RIVALRY

BIGGEST STRENGTHS The Saints lost a lot from their 2017 championship team, but having Khiry Morrison back is a huge boost. The 3-star player committed to Louisiana Tech will be the leader on both sides of the ball.

University vs. West Feliciana. The most important game of the season features two teams that won state titles in 2017. The two teams are juggernauts in the district and will once again duke it out in 2018.

SEASON FORECAST West Feliciana is likely the only team in the district that can challenge U-High’s grip at the top. A favorable schedule should that includes a home game against the Cubs should work in the Saints’ favor.

BY THE NUMBERS

38

9

3

2

National ranking of U-High by MaxPreps, highest-rated team in Louisiana

Number of players from the district in 247 Sports’ Top 100 for Louisiana class of 2019

Number of defending state champs U-High plays in September

Number of defending state champs in 6-3A (U-High and West Feliciana)

Mike Gegenheimer

SCHEDULES BAKER Aug. 31 at Northeast Sept. 7 Dunham Sept. 14 at McKinley Sept. 21 Brusly Sept. 28 at Glen Oaks* Oct. 5 Mentorship Aca.* Oct. 12 at Madison Prep* Oct. 19 Episcopal Oct. 26 West Feliciana* Nov. 2 at University*

BRUSLY Aug. 31 at Port Allen Open date Sept. 14 Belaire Sept. 21 at Baker* Sept. 28 West Feliciana* Oct. 5 at University* Oct. 12 at Central Oct. 19 Glen Oaks* Oct. 26 Mentorship Aca.* Nov. 2 Madison Prep*

GLEN OAKS Aug. 30 at Capitol Sept. 7 at Tara Sept. 14 White Castle Open date Sept. 28 Baker* Oct. 5 at West Feliciana* Oct. 12 University* Oct. 19 at Brusly* Oct. 26 Belaire Nov. 2 Mentorship Aca.*

MADISON PREP Aug. 31 at Salmen Sept. 7 at Scotlandville Sept. 14 at Zachary Sept. 21 Glen Oaks* Sept. 27 at Mentorship Aca.* Oct. 6 at Carver Oct. 12 Baker* Oct. 19 West Feliciana* Oct. 26 University* Nov. 2 at Brusly*

MENTORSHIP Aug. 31 at Asc. Catholic Sept. 7 at North Central Sept. 14 Sci Academy Open date Sept. 27 Madison Prep* Oct. 5 at Baker* Oct. 12 West Feliciana* Oct. 19 at University* Oct. 26 at Brusly* Nov. 2 at Glen Oaks*

UNIVERSITY Aug. 31 Mandeville Sept. 7 Southern Lab Sept. 14 at Catholic Sept. 21 at West Feliciana* Sept. 28 at Zachary Oct. 5 Brusly* Oct. 12 at Glen Oaks* Oct. 19 Mentorship Aca.* Oct. 26 at Madison Prep* Nov. 2 Baker*

WEST FELICIANA Aug. 31 East Feliciana Sept. 7 Livonia Sept. 14 at Live Oak Sept. 21 University* Sept. 28 at Brusly* Oct. 5 Glen Oaks* Oct. 12 at Mentorship Aca.* Oct. 19 at Madison Prep* Oct. 26 at Baker* Nov. 2 at Kinder *­—6-3A games


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The Advocate

DISTRICT 7-2A FRIENDSHIP CAPITOL COACH: Dorsett Buckels | 2017: 0-10 PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS QB Colby Tucker (5-9, 145), RB Keishun Taylor (5-10, 180), *SE Diyon Woods (5-9, 155), SE Bryan Foley (5-8, 150), *SE Kastopha Hankton (5-10 157, So.), *SE Romell Jones (5-10, 160, So.), *OT Zarion Anderson (6-3, 235), C Johnell Johnson (5-8, 160, So.), OG James Edwards (6-1, 270, Sr.), *OT Serente Cosey (6-3, 280, Jr.), OG Jacoby Bell (5-9, 390, Jr.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS *DE Zarion Anderson (6-3, 230, Sr.), *DT Kameron Hicks (5-9, 256, Sr.), DT James Edwards (6-1, 270, Sr.), DE Gervonte Taplin (6-1, 180, Jr.), LB Andrew Robertson (5-10, 190, Jr.), *LB Darrenn Thomas (5-9, 170, Sr.), DB Da’Vion Davis (5-9, 160, So.), DB LaRay Shelton (5-11, 165, Jr.), *DB Romell Jones (5-10, 160, So.), DB Dane Johnson (6-1,165, Jr.), *DB Kastopha Hankton (5-10, 175, Jr.) BIGGEST STRENGTHS A former LSU linebacker, Capitol coach Dorsett Buckels, and his ability to change his team’s mindset will be key. SEASON FORECAST There is nowhere to go but up for Capitol, which was winless last season and has won only four regular season games in the past four seasons.

THE CHURCH ACADEMY COACH: Marcus Randall (22-4) | 2017: 1-9

PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS QB Malik Kelly, OL Jordan Carroll, OL Kelvin Smith, OL Joshua Clark, OL Cole Martin, OL Kyle Martinez, WR Darrell Vessell, WR Michael Kennedy, TE Caleb Kibodi, RB CJ Golden, RB Braylen Titus PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS*DE DL Kelvin Smith, DL Joshua Clark, DL Jordan Carroll, DL Cole Martin, LB Caleb Kibodi, LB Andre Haynes, LB Kyle Martinez, DB Christian Williams, DB Trent Abbott, DB Darrell Vessell, DB Michael Kennedy BIGGEST STRENGTHS The return of senior QB Malik Kelly and improvement on defense are expected to be the bright spots. If this happens, the Crusaders will have a chance to improve after one win last season. SEASON FORECAST The Crusaders must shore up both sides of the ball for a program that was outscored by an average of 43-10 and plays and plays eight teams who made last year’s LHSAA playoffs.

DUNHAM COACH: Neil Weiner (94-53) | 2017: 8-1

PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS LT CJ Falgoust (6-4, 250, Sr.), LG Camden Holmes (6-1, 200, So.), C Jarrett Fontenot (6-1, 215, Jr.), RG Cobin Leindecker (5-9, 220, Jr.), RT Grant Rabel (6-2, 220, Sr.), TE Rhett Guidry (6-5, 195, Jr.), WR Nicholas Cambias (6-2, 175, Sr.), WR Derek Stingley Jr. (6-1, 195, Sr.), WR Devin Taylor (5-8, 155, Jr.), RB Treylan Mouton (5-11, 190, Jr.), QB Reed Godbery (5-10, 170, Sr.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS DE CJ Falgoust (6-4, 250, Sr.), DT BJ Lewis (5-11, 180, Sr.), DT Grant Rabel (6-2, 220, Sr.), DE Rhett Guidry (6-5, 195, Jr.), LB Cobin Leindecker (5-9, 220, Jr.), LB Connor Bown (5-8, 175, Sr.), LB Kalante’ Wilson (5-7, 155, Fr.), DB Isaiah Arceneaux (5-9, 165, Jr.), Cruz Bridges (5-9, 165, Jr.), DB Jordan Roberson (6-0, 180, Sr.), DB Derek Stingley Jr. (6-1, 195, Sr.)

BIGGEST STRENGTHS With new starters on the D-line, Dunham will look to ease pressure on its defense with a capable offense. Senior Reed Godbery brings leadership and poise at QB while RB Treylan Mouton is back after a productive junior season. SEASON FORECAST Dunham must replace linemen Shelby Hanks, Tyler Johnson and Thomas Brinson as well as QB Mike Williams, who signed with Texas. LSU commitment Derek Stingley will be used on offense, defense and special teams for the Tigers, who have enough talent to make another deep run in Division II.

EAST FELICIANA COACH: Cedric Anderson (73-44) 2017: 6-6 PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS *QB Caleb Anderson (6-2, 180, Jr.), *RB D’Andre Patin (5-9, 170, Sr.), *OG Cordarius Wright (6-1, 300, Jr.), OG Jontrellius Goudeau (6-0, 250, Sr.), OT Javontae Barnes (6-1, 255, Sr.), OT Shannon Hollins (6-3, 270), TE Braden Bankston (6-1, 260, Sr.), SE Richard Davis (6-1, 165, Sr.), C Julius McCoy (6-1, 250, Sr.)/Shemar Nelson (6-0, 215, Sr.), SE Rodney White (5-11, 170, Jr.), RB Rodriguez London (5-11, 190, So.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS *DE Javontae Barnes (6-1, 255, Sr.), DT Braden Bankston (6-2, 260, Jr.), DT Cordarius Wright (6-1, 300, Jr.), LB Rodriguez London (5-11, 190, So.), LB Antoine Johnson (5-10, 195), DB Richard Davis Jr. (6-1, 165, Sr.), DB Nathan Sullivan (5-9, 170, Jr.), DB Caleb Anderson (6-2, 180, Jr.), DB Rodney White (5-11, 170), LB Shemar Nelson (5-11, 215, Jr.) BIGGEST STRENGTHS East Feliciana is set with the return of junior QB Caleb Anderson (1,242 yards passing, 17 TDs, 5 rushing TDs) and senior RB D’Andre Patin (874 yards rushing, 12 TDs). Senior guard Cordarius Wright returns on the line. SEASON FORECAST East Feliciana returns only four starters, three on offense and one on defense. The regular season schedule will be a gauntlet of playoff teams but could prepare them to make noise in the playoffs as they did last season.

EPISCOPAL COACH: Travis Bourgeois (123-75) 2017: 9-3 PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS T Evan Meek (So.), G Grant Curry (Sr.), *C Griff Strain (Jr.), G Dillon Kong (So.), T Ethan Massengale (Sr.), Wr Peyton Pontiff (So.), WR Oliver Jack (So.), WR Brandan Garrido (Sr.), WR Thomas Abadie (So.), *RB Austin Jemison (Sr.), QB Cruz Crawford PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS DE Ethan Massengale (Sr.), *NG Alex Wilson (Jr.), *DE Jamieson Bell (Jr.), *LB Ethan Amedee (Jr.), LB Oliver Jack (So.), LB Lane Grisby (Jr.), LB Grant Coffman (Jr.), *S Brandan Garrido (Sr.), DB Kirk Singletary (Sr.), DB Thomas Abadie (So.) BIGGEST STRENGTHS RB Austin Jemison (800 yards, 8 TDs) and C Griff Strain anchor the offense. The defense will count on linemen Alex Wilson and Jamieson Bell, LB Ethan Amedee and S Brandan Garrido.

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FRIENDSHIP CAPITOL | THE CHURCH ACADEMY | DUNHAM EAST FELICIANA | EPISCOPAL | NORTHEAST | PORT ALLEN SEASON FORECAST Episcopal must replace nine offensive and six defensive starters. Gone are QB Kade Edenfield (900 yards passing), RB Caden Dickinson (1,200 yards rushing), DB Cameron Dumas (8 interceptions) and LB Howell Eglin (42 tackles).

NORTHEAST COACH: David Masterson (110-116) 2017: 8-4 PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS *WR Jascent Scott (6-2, 175, Sr.), TE William Walker (6-1, 205, Sr.), *WR Johnny Selders (6-2, 205, Sr.), C Riley Bernard (5-10, 190, So.), G Earnest Matthews (510, 170, So.), G Tarius Morgan (5-10, 185, So.), T Christian Snowden (6-0, 240, Sr.), T Brendan McKenzie (6-1, 255, So.), RB Deontae Fisher (5-8, 140, Jr.), RB Elijah Williams (5-10, 175, Sr.), *QB Ryshaun Steel (6-2, 210, Sr.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS DE Trevor Stovall (6-2, 190, Jr.), DE Trevion Bonaventure (6-3, 210, Jr.), *DT William Walker (6-1, 205, Sr.), DT Christian Snowden (6-0, 240, Sr.), *Lb Quoshane Kelly (6-1, 205, Sr.), Lb Keilan Harrell (5-9, 175, Jr.), *LB Samuel Pryer (6-0, 215, Sr.), *DB Elijah Williams (5-10, 175, Sr.), *DB Jacoby Junis (5-8, 160, Sr.), DB Darren Taylor (5-11, 165, So.), DB Jascent Scott (6-2, 170, Sr.) BIGGEST STRENGTHS After losing two starters, Greg Whitley and Curtis Keaton, who each rushed for more than 1,000 yards, the offense will lean on three seniors: QB Ryshaun Steele, all-state WR Jascent Scott (28 yards per catch, 16 TDs), and second team all-state TE Johnny Selders. SEASON FORECAST The defense has five returning starters and several well-seasoned backups. All-district DE Quoshane Kelly will move to LB. A Class 3A quarterfinalist last season, Northeast returns enough talent to challenge for the district title.

Defending champion Dunham and Northeast have the best combination of returning experience and talent and should battle for the district title. Last season’s district runner-up, Episcopal, looks to replace 15 starters and will quickly find out where it stands with a district-opening game at Northeast. Overall, the nod goes to Dunham and do-it-all athlete Derek Stingley Jr. to win a second consecutive title. 1. Dunham 5. Port Allen 2. Episcopal 6. The Church Academy 3. Northeast 7. Friendship Capitol 4. East Feliciana

TOP PLAYERS DEREK STINGLEY JR., WR/DB, DUNHAM: Rated by many as the top cornerback prospect in the nation, Stingley, an LSU commitment, will be used on offense, defense and special teams. JASCENT SCOTT, WR, NORTHEAST: A big-play threat, Scott will be counted on for production after the Vikings graduated their top two running backs. A first team all-district and all-metro selection as a junior, Scott had 29 receptions for 801 yards and 15 TDs. CORDARIUS WRIGHT, OL, EAST FELICIANA: The only sophomore on last year’s all-district first team, Wright helped pave the way for a pair of all-district teammates: RB D’Andre Patin and QB Caleb Anderson.

TOP GAMES Episcopal at Northeast, Sept. 21 Northeast at Dunham, Oct. 19 Dunham at Episcopal, Nov. 2

Port Allen COACH: Don Gibson (34-78) | 2017: 3-8 PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS OT Traevon Scott (6-2, 245, Sr.), OT TJ Shepherd (6-1, 205, Sr.), C Thomas Shepherd (5-11, 225, Jr.), G Justin Lewis (6-2, 330, Jr.), G Samahad Watson (6-0, 240, So.), RB Ed Wilson (6-0, 180, Jr.), WR Lakelvin Batiste (5-9, 160, Jr.), WR Marcus Joseph (5-10, 155, Jr.), WR Mekyle Franklin (5-10, 160, So.), WR Darius Jarrett (6-1, 165, So.), QB Jacoby Howard (5-9, 145, So.)/Jeremiah Dehon (6-0, 155, Fr.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS DE Traevon Scott (6-2, 245, Sr.), LB TJ Shepherd (6-1, 205, Sr.), DE Thomas Shepherd (5-11, 225, Jr.), LB Jordan Antoine (6-0, 210, Fr.), DE Samahad Watson (6-0, 240, So.), CB Ed Wilson (60, 180, Jr.), LB Leroy Depluche (5-10, 190, So.), FS Mekyle Franklin (5-10, 160, So.), S Keshawn Henderson (6-0, 175, Jr.), CB Jacoby Howard (5-9, 145, So.), S Colby Credeur (5-10, 160, So.) BIGGEST STRENGTHS With only three seniors, the Pelicans are inexperienced but have a high ceiling.

FORECAST

BEST RIVALRY Dunham vs. Episcopal. This will be the fourth consecutive year and seventh in the past 10 that Dunham and Episcopal play the last week of the season. Dunham has taken three of the past four meetings after Episcopal had won four straight.

BY THE NUMBERS

4.3

10

27.6

24-2

40-yard dash time for Dunham’s Derek Stingley Jr.

Number of consecutive years Episcopal has qualified for the playoffs

Average yards per catch last season for Northeast’s Jascent Scott

Combined district record of Episcopal and Dunham the past three years before their season finale

SEASON FORECAST The Pelicans must replace QB Harold Jones and rusher Norrise Cummings if they want to realize the potential shown in a win over Class 3A quarterfinalist Northeast, (later forfeited).

Charles Salzer

SCHEDULES CAPITOL

CHURCH ACADEMY

DUNHAM

Aug. 30 Glen Oaks Sept. 6 McKinley Sept. 13 East Iberville Sept. 21 at East Feliciana* Sept. 28 at Episcopal* Oct. 4 at Northeast* Oct. 12 Dunham* Oct. 19 at Church Academy* Oct. 26 Port Allen* Nov. 2 at Jewel Sumner

Aug. 31 St. Thomas Aquinas Sept. 7 at Covenant Christian Sept. 14 Cohen College Prep Sept. 21 Archbishop Hannan Sept. 28 Dunham* Oct. 5 Episcopal* Oct. 12 at East Feliciana* Oct. 19 Capitol* Oct. 26 at Northeast* Nov. 2 at Port Allen*

Aug. 31 at Central Sept. 7 at Baker Sept. 13 St. Michael Sept. 21 Port Allen* Sept. 28 at Church Academy* Oct. 5 East Feliciana* Oct. 12 at Capitol* Oct. 19 Northeast* Open date Nov. 2 at Episcopal*

EAST FELICIANA Aug. 31 at West Feliciana Sept. 7 at St. Helena Sept. 14 at Kentwood Sept. 21 Capitol* Sept. 28 at Jewel Sumner Oct. 5 at Dunham* Oct. 12 Church Academy* Oct. 19 at Port Allen* Oct. 26 Episcopal* Nov. 2 Northeast*

EPISCOPAL Aug. 31 at St. Michael Sept. 7 St. Thomas Aquinas Sept. 14 Country Day Sept. 21 at Northeast* Sept. 28 Capitol* Oct. 5 at Church Academy* Oct. 11 Port Allen* Oct. 19 at Baker Oct. 26 at East Feliciana* Nov. 2 Dunham*

NORTHEAST Aug. 31 Baker Sept. 7 at Belaire Sept. 14 at Livonia Sept. 21 Episcopal* Sept. 28 at Port Allen* Oct. 4 Capitol* Open date Oct. 19 at Dunham* Oct. 26 Church Academy Nov. 2 at East Feliciana*

PORT ALLEN Aug. 31 Brusly Sept. 7 at Plaquemine Sept. 14 at Donaldsonville Sept. 21 at Dunham* Sept. 28 Northeast* Oct. 5 Loranger Oct. 11 at Episcopal* Oct. 19 East Feliciana* Oct. 26 at Capitol* Nov. 2 Church Academy* *­—7-2A games


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The Advocate

DISTRICT 6-1A ASCENSION CATHOLIC COACH: Drey Trosclair (21-15) | 2017: 8-2

PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS *QB John MIre (5-10, 195, Sr.), *RB Jamar Barber (5-8, 165, Sr.), *RB Jai Williams (5-9, 176, Jr.), *WR Tre Medine (6-2, 180, Sr.), *WR Eric Simon (5-10, 165, Jr.), *WR Rodney Blanchard (5-9, 165, Sr.), *LT Nick Hilliard (6-3, 290, Jr.), LG Alex Gros (5-9, 185, Sr.), *C Jacob Matirne (6-1, 260, Sr.), *RG Sam Mire (5-9, 185, Jr.), *RT Dillion Davis (6-2, 270, Sr.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS *FS Brock Acosta (5-10, 175, Jr.), *SS Jamar Barbar (5-8, 165, Sr.), *WS Mason Zeringue (5-10, 170, Sr.), *CB Eric Simon (5-10, 165, Jr.), *CB Rodney Blanchard (5-9, 165, Sr.), OLB Jai Williams (5-9, 176, Jr.), MLB Andrew Landry (5-9, 175, Sr.), *OLB Parker Hales (5-10, 180, Sr.), *DE John Broussard (5-8, 170, Sr.), LT Nick Hilliard (6-3, 290, Jr.), *RT Dillion Davis (6-2, 270, Sr.) BIGGEST STRENGTHS Ascension Catholic Is bolstered by the return senior Jamar Barber and junior Jai Williams (1,628 yards, 21 TDS). SEASON FORECAST With 18 starters returning a year after getting to the Division IV championship game, the Bulldogs have their eyes on a return trip to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

ASCENSION CHRISTIAN COACH: Josh Puryear (25-24) | 2017: 7-3

Note: Not playing for district honors PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS QB Zack Diez (5-10,160, So.), RB Brady Gueho (5-10, 190, So.), C Justin Krass (5-5, 145, Jr.), RG Luke Sylve (5-10, 210, Sr.), LG Peyton Chidester (6-1, 210, Jr.), LT Luke Rodriguez (6-3, 270, Jr.), RT Daniel Jones (5-10,155, Jr.), WR Derrick Varnado (5-11,165, Jr.), WR Tyler Cambre (5-10, 160, Sr.), WR Nathan Bledsoe (5-11,155, Jr.), WR Byron Hansley (5-11, 175, Jr.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS DT Peyton Chidester (6-2, 210, Jr.), DT Brian Anderson (6-1, 200, Jr.), DE Nick Davis (5-11, 150, So.), DE Luke Sylve (5-11, 210, Sr.), LB Andrew Ritchie (5-10, 165, Jr.) LB Daniel Jones (5-10, 155, Jr.), SS Hunter Jacobs (5-10, 160, Sr.), SS Byron Hansley (5-10, 175, Jr.), FS Tyler Cambre (5-10, 165, Sr.), CB Jaiden Barton (5-8, 150, Jr.), CB Joshua Springman (5-7, 145, So.) BIGGEST STRENGTHS Topped by QB Derrick Varnado (1,208 yards passing, 836 yards rushing, 20 total TDs), skill positions will be a strength. SEASON FORECAST The Lions must replace leading rusher Landon Ortego (1,208 yards, 14 TDs) and leading tackler Brennan Tramonte (108 tackles) to equal last season’s 7-3.

EAST IBERVILLE COACH: Ron LeJeune (75-73) | 2017: 6-6

PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS *C Lester Joseph (5-11, 180, Sr.), RG Damian Williams (5-10, 215, So.), *RT Justin Hollins (5-11, 245, Jr.), LG Lance Captain (5-9, 230, Fr.), *LT Tykei Facione (5-10, 240, So.), TE Vilmore Wilson (6-0,

BIGGEST STRENGTHS Speed and quickness will be the biggest assets, as will be the leadership of senior Mike Triplett, who takes over at QB for graduated Lyndell Joseph.

ST. JOHN

COACH: Jonathan Foster II (47-11) 2017: 13-2 PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS QB Terrell Hookfin (5-10, 160), RB Larry Carter (5-11, 210), WR Edward Magee (6-0, 170), WR Radarrian Robbins (5-8, 165), WR Cornelious Dyson (6-2, 175), *WR Trey Palmer (6-0, 175), OL Mickey Miller (6-0, 260), OL Derek Cohn (6-1, 230), OL Kendall Wilkinson (6-4, 270), OL Bryce Cooper (5-10, 210), OL Shacobe Dyson (6-0, 200) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS DE Kejuan Magee (5-11, 170), DE Kendall Wilkinson (6-4, 270), DT Mickey Miller (6-0, 270), Dt Derek Cohn (6-1, 230), LB Bryce Cooper (5-10, 210), LB Conelious Dyson (6-2, 175), LB Britton Kazaroni (5-8, 190), DB Trey Palmer (6-0, 75), DB Edward Magee (6-0, 170), DB Radarrian Robbins (5-8, 165), DB Keandre Fultz (5-8, 165) BIGGEST STRENGTHS Depth could be an issue, but front- line playmakers are there. District offensive MVP Larry Carter (1,567 yards rushing) and LSU commitment Trey Palmer (785 yards receiving) are the top returners. SEASON FORECAST QB Larenz Morris (1,408 yards passing, 558 rushing) and all-district linemen Eric Dunn and Juatice Ulshack must be replaced. Kentwood advanced to the 2017 Class 1A title game before losing its bid for the school’s ninth state title.

SOUTHERN LAB COACH: Darrell Asberry (56-62) | 2017: 5-5

PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS *WR Reginald Johnson, WR Dae’lon Hardy, *LT Jacques Wallace, LG Kerion Brady, *C Nick Smith, RG Tyshawn Howard, *RT Kardell Thomas, *WR Theodore Knox, *WR Charvis Thornton, QB Travon Myles/Angelo Izzard, *RB Tyrion Davis PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS DE Marlon Corley, *DT Chris Welch, DT Marquillis Chambers, *DE Tyler Guidry, LB Dakota Day, LB Sherman Ruth, LB Keyon Kyser, LB Jabar Triplett, *CB Kendarias Moss, CB Edmond Weber, *FS Mike Wicker BIGGEST STRENGTHS

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KENTWOOD | SOUTHERN LAB | ST. JOHN | WHITE CASTLE A pair of LSU commitments lead the way on offense. Kardell Thomas is one of three returning offensive linemen who carve out lanes for RB Tyrion Davis (1,429 yards). An experienced defensive line will be counted on to take pressure off of a young secondary.

KENTWOOD

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ASCENSION CATHOLIC | ASCENSION CHRISTIAN | EAST IBERVILLE |

175, Jr.), WR Kendall Brown (5-11, 160, Sr.), QB Mike Triplett (6-0, 180, Sr.), *WR Junior Williams (5-9, 165, Jr.), *WB Rondell Daniels (5-7, 170, Sr.), *RB Dedrick Wilson (6-0, 190, Jr.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS *S Mike Triplett (6-0, 180, Sr.), CB Junior Williams (5-9, 165, Jr.), CB Kendall Brown (5-11, 160, Sr.), WS Jayden Williams (5-9, 160, So.), OLB Ehman Dunbar (5-8, 170, So.), *LB Darren Lacour (5-9, 170, Jr.), DE Vilmar Wilson (6-0, 170, Jr.), DE J’Quinn Williams (5-9, 180, So.), *DT Justin Hollins (5-11, 245, Jr.)

SEASON FORECAST The Tigers return 11 starters as they look to continue an upswing. After winning just one game in its previous four seasons, East Iberville went 6-6 last season including a playoff win.

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SEASON FORECAST Eligible for the playoffs again after being sanctioned by the LHSAA, Lab must replace QB Quincy Filmore (Grambling signee) and LB Damone Clark (LSU signee).

COACH: Eric Holden (18-17) | 2017: 0-10 PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS QB Adam Blanchard (5-10, 180, Sr.), WR Adam Theriot (5-8, 165, Sr.), WR Justin Rivet (5-10, 180, Sr.), WR Pete Anderson (6-1, 165, Sr.), C Zach Dorsey (6-2, 235, Sr.), HB Chris Holmes (5-11, 200, So.), OL Devin Romig (6-0, 215, Sr.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS DB Adam Theriot (5-8, 165, Sr.), DB Justin Rivet (5-10, 180, Sr.), DB Zach Dorsey (6-2, 235, Sr.), DL Zach Dorsey (6-2, 235, Sr.), LB Devin Romig (6-0, 215, Sr.), LB Chris Holmes (5-11, 200, So.) BIGGEST STRENGTHS A quartet of returning seniors, QB Adam Blanchard, and skill players Adam Theriot, Justin Rivet and Pete Anderson, will be the core of a team that will require many of its athletes both ways. The defense will be bolstered by senior LBs Zach Dorsey and Devin Romig. SEASON FORECAST The Eagles’ best shot at breaking into the win column may come in the first half of the season during non-district play.

FORECAST In what may be the toughest Class 1A district in the state, defending district champion Kentwood, Ascension Catholic and Southern Lab will all have a shot at the title. Kentwood reached the 2A championship last season, and Ascension Catholic advanced to the Division IV title game. Southern Lab, eligible for the postseason again after sitting out a year because of LHSAA sanctions, has the talent to take the top honors. 1. Southern Lab 4. East Iberville 5. White Castle. 2. Kentwood 3. Ascension Catholic 6. St. John

TOP PLAYERS TYRION DAVIS, RB, SOUTHERN LAB: An LSU commitment, Davis is rated among the top running back prospects in the nation. He had 1,429 yards rushing and 583 yards receiving last season. KARDELL THOMAS, OL, SOUTHERN LAB: Also an LSU commitment, Thomas is known in some circles as Mr. Pancake. Rated among the top offensive line prospects nationally, he projects to play guard in college. TREY PALMER, WR/DB, KENTWOOD: Yet another LSU commitment, Palmer has made his mark on both sides of the ball for the Kangaroos, but will play offense in college. As a junior, he caught 41 passes for 917 yards.

TOP GAMES Ascension Catholic at Southern Lab, Oct. 12 Kentwood at Ascension Catholic, Oct. 26 Kentwood at Southern Lab, Nov. 2

WHITE CASTLE COACH: Aaron Meyer | 2017: 2-9 PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS *WR Tyron Simon (5-6, 156, Sr.), WR Keith Landry (5-10, 160, So.), *WR Javier Batiste (5-8, 156, Sr.), WR Jashone Landry (5-4, 156, So.), OT Jai Johnson (6-1, 210, 8th), *OG Chancellor Williams (5-7, 220, So.), *C Rodney Governor (5-9, 185, Fr.), *OG Norshaad Scott (5-8, 240, Jr.), *OT Clifton Dunham Jr. (5-6, 200, Sr.), QB Tahj Favorite (5-6, 160, So.), RB Jacob Green (5-6, 165, Fr.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS *DE Ira Anderson Jr. (6-1, 160, So.), *NG D’Anthony McKinley (5-6, 170, So.), *DE Kevon Williams (6-0, 180, Sr.), *LB Eddie Ned (5-7, 168, Sr.), *LB Clifton Dunham Jr. (5-6, 200, Sr.), *LB Marcus Williams (5-8, 185, Sr.), *LB Tyron Simon (5-6, 156. Sr.), CB Barry Richards Jr. (5-8, 180, So.), CB JaColby Washington (6-1, 156, Sr.), *S Javier Batiste (5-8, 156, Sr.), *S Unique Young (6-0, 165, Sr.) BIGGEST STRENGTHS QB Javier Batiste (458 yards rushing, 368 yards passing with 10 touchdowns) returns, as does LB Eddie Ned, who led the Bulldogs with 63 tackles. SEASON FORECAST With the loss of top RB Jeremie Richard (832 yards ) to graduation, WCHS must find its ground game. If it doesn’t, WCHS will have trouble improving on last season’s 1-5 district record.

BEST RIVALRY Kentwood vs. Southern Lab. There’s a reason Lab and Kentwood wait until the final week of the regular season to play. District titles seem to be on the line every time they play. The two teams have won a combined 12 LHSAA titles.

BY THE NUMBERS

605

233

6

8

Amount of weight squatted by Kardell Thomas in a video recently posted online

Combined average rushing yards per game last season for ACHS’ Jai Williams and Jamar Barber

Number of passes Trey Palmer intercepted last season as a defensive back

Number of playoff teams on Lab’s schedule (six in quarterfinals or better) Charles Salzer

SCHEDULES ASC. CATHOLIC

ASC. CHRISTIAN

Aug. 31 Mentorship Aca. Sept. 6 Sophie B. Wright Sept. 13 KIPP Renaissance Sept. 21 Thomas Jefferson Sept. 28 at Covenant Christian Oct. 5 East Iberville* Oct. 12 at Southern Lab* Oct. 19 White Castle* Oct. 26 Kentwood* Nov. 2 St. John*

Aug. 31 at Springfield Sept. 7 Ben Franklin Sept. 14 at Houma Christian Sept. 21 at Westminster Sept. 28 Fisher Oct. 5 St. Martin’s Episcopal Oct 12 Delcambre Open date Oct. 26 at Ville Platte Nov. 2 Slaughter Charter

E. IBERVILLE Aug. 31 at Slaughter Sept. 7 at Hamilton Sept. 13 at Capitol Sept. 21 Tara Sept. 28 Houma Christian Oct. 5 at Asc. Catholic* Oct. 11 Kentwood* Oct. 19 at Southern Lab* Oct. 26 St. John* Nov. 2 White Castle*

KENTWOOD

SOUTHERN LAB

Aug. 31 at Loranger Sept. 7 Jewel Sumner Sept. 14 East Feliciana Sept. 21 Franklin Parish Sept. 27 at Broadmoor Oct. 4 White Castle* Oct. 11 at East Iberville* Oct. 19 St. John* Oct. 26 at Asc. Catholic* Nov. 2 at Southern Lab*

Aug. 31 Riverside Academy Sept. 7 at University Lab Sept. 14 Scotlandville Sept. 21 Broadmoor Sept. 28 Parkview Baptist Oct. 4 at St. John Oct. 12 Asc. Catholic* Oct. 19 East Iberville* Oct. 26 at White Castle* Nov. 2 Kentwood*

ST. JOHN Aug. 31 at Ridgewood Sept. 7 at Merryville Sept. 14 Catholic-PC Sept. 20 Covenant Christian Sept. 28 at Highland Baptist Oct. 4 Southern Lab* Oct. 12 at White Castle* Oct. 19 at Kentwood* Oct. 26 at East Iberville* Nov. 2 Ascension Catholic*

WHITE CASTLE Aug. 31 Belaire Sept. 7 at Donaldsonville Sept. 14 at Glen Oaks Sept. 21 at Lusher Charter Sept. 28 West St. John Oct. 4 at Kentwood* Oct. 12 St. John* Oct. 19 at Asc. Catholic* Oct. 26 Southern Lab* Nov. 2 at East Iberville* *­—6-1A games


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ALBANY | CATHOLIC-POINTE COUPEE | DONALDSONVILLE | LIVONIA SLAUGHTER CHARTER | ST. JAMES | ST. HELENA | SPRINGFIELD

ALBANY

Jr.), DL Cedric Irvin (6-0, 285, Jr.), DL Anthony Williams (6-1, 240, Sr.), LB Christian Hawkins (6-0 195, So.), *LB *DaMiquin Minor (5-9, 170, Sr.) LB Dalin Chapman (59,190, So.), LB Ke’Tron Jones (5-10, 182, Jr.)

COACH: Michael Janis | 2017: 8-3 PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS *C Pierce Ziebarth (5-9, 265), *OG Dawson Smith (5-5, 210), *OT Ronnie Turbeville (6-0, 305), *OG Jacob Giachetti (5-6, 260), OT Noah Canet (6-4, 305), *TE Tyler Bates (6-1, 165), *WR Chase Robertson (5-6, 155), RB Rhett Wolfe (5-7, 140), *RB Justin Parrish (5-6, 165), *FB Casey Thompson (6-0, 175), QB Jerimiah Doherty (6-1, 175) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS DE Pierce Ziebarth (5-9, 265), *DT Ian Miller (5-9, 280), *DT Ronnie Turbeville (6-0, 305), *DE David Perez (5-10, 270), LB Tyler Bates (6-1, 165), DB Orlando Pineda (5-7, 160), *DB Rhett Wolfe (5-7, 140), DB Nicholas Prejaun (5-6, 165), DB Jerimiah Doherty (6-1, 175), *DB Dae Doherty (5-9, 160)

BIGGEST STRENGTHS Two-way starters Da’Marco Goss and DaMinquin Minor are like Swiss Army knives and expect them to lead the way. Keeping both players healthy and getting them in the right places to make plays are big keys. SEASON FORECAST The Knights of District 5-1A persevered through injuries and inexperience in their first varsity season in 2017. How much better they can be? Staying injury free and finding ways to eliminate costly mistakes on offense and defense will be a much-needed next step toward success.

ST. JAMES

BIGGEST STRENGTHS Time to put it on the line to lead the way? With four OL starters returning and three DL starters back that seems like a pretty solid option for the Hornets. If QB/ DB Jerimiah Doherty can run the offense efficiently, Albany will get another key boost of confidence.

COACH: Robert Valdez (90-44) | 2017: 9-4

PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS *QB Shamar Smith (Jr.), *RB Donate Sterling (Sr.),*RB Sean Leboeuf (Jr.), SE She’N Joseph (Jr.), TE Logan Gravois (Jr.), SE Tyshonne Williams (Jr.), OT Diante Brooks (Sr.), *OG Daniel King (So.), C Rahlik Flemming (Sr.), OG Gregory Rounds (So.), OT Donald Nelson (Jr.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS *DB Tyler Stein (Jr.), DB Brad Batiste (Jr.), DB Tai’Rhys Smith (Sr.), LB Arum Joseph (Sr.), LB Deandre Harry, (Sr.), LB Lamon Lewis (jr.), LB Caleb Brown (Jr.), LB Chase Geason (So.), DE Saigon Jones (Jr.), DT Jaheim Jones, DE Craig James (Sr.)

SEASON FORECAST First-year coach Michael Janis has a bit of a fixer upper on his hands after the Hornets of District 7-3A made some history by hosting a playoff game. Two RBs who combined for 3,700 rushing yards graduated which leaves a huge void in Janis’ single-wing offense. New starters must emerge quickly on both sides of the ball.

BIGGEST STRENGTHS QB Shamar Smith is a dynamic playmaker and running backs Dontae Sterling and Sean Leboeuf also are experienced. This is not the first rodeo for SJHS coach Robert Valdez, who has a way of getting what he needs out of players. SEASON FORECAST Those who know the St. James program well say the Wildcats of District 10-3A don’t rebuild, they simply reload. An injury forced Smith to take the reins of the St. James offense early last season. A young SJHS line will need to grow up fast. Ditto that for the defense.

CATHOLIC-PC COACH: David Simoneaux (22-12) | 2017: 10-2

PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS *LT Reed Lambert (6-1, 195, Jr.), WR Ethan Elliot (6-0, 150, Sr.), LG Andrew Bonaventure (6-1, 225, So.), *WR Andrew Grezaffi (5-9, 180, Sr.), *C Reed Rivet (5-11, 220, Sr.), QB Aiden Vosburg (6-0, 165, So.), *RB Colin Grezaffi (5-10, 170, Jr.), *RG Omar Aguilar (5-8, 245, Sr.), *WR Nick Carriere (5-10, 174, Jr.), *RT Duncan Fremin (6-0, 200, Sr.), WR Chayse Buriege (5-11, 155, So.), TE Justin Vosburg (5-11, 215, Sr.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS DE Kaleb McDowell (5-11, 195, Sr.), DT Brandon Riddle (5-10, 220, Jr.), *DT Will Dunham (5-8, 255, Jr.), *DE Luke Torres (5-8, 250, Jr.), *LB Nick Carriere (5-10, 170, Jr.), LB Brock Bullara (5-11, 170, Sr.), *LB Aaron Beatty (5-8, 170, Jr.), *CB Micah Cifreo (5-10, 170, Jr.), *FS Matthew Langlois (5-11, 170, So.), SS Colin Grezaffi (5-10, 165, Jr.), *CB Karson Moore (6-0, 155, Sr.) BIGGEST STRENGTHS A total of 11 returning starters, including six on offense, should service the Hornets well. Those 10 wins from a year ago should also be a huge confidence booster as the CHSPC looks to establish its program as a consistent contender for 5-1A honors and a post-season wins. SEASON FORECAST The Hornets of District 5-1A look to build on last year’s success, but must replace its QB and top rusher from a year ago. Aiden Vosburg takes over at QB and two-year starter Nick Carriere, a WR/LB, is among the players in line to take on more of a leadership role.

DONALDSONVILLE COACH: Brian Richardson (12-11) | 2017: 8-4

PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS OT Jalen Winchester (5-10, 210, Sr.), G Acquindas Rodrigue (5-10, 225, Sr.), C Rashad Millien (5-9, 215, Sr.), G Willie Picou (6-0, 270, Jr.), OT Laron Lang (5-11, 230, Sr.), QB Joshua Collier (5-9, 155, So.), QB Treveyon Brown (5-10, 160, Fr.), *RB Rae land Johnson (5-8, 175, So.), WR Jeffery Johnson (5-11, 170, Sr.), WR Tyrese Ester (5-8, 160, Jr.), WR Devonte Leblanc (6-2, 168, Jr.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS DE Trevon Henderson (Sr.), DT Rashad Landry (So.), DE Terrell Brown (Sr.), LB Travis Joseph (Jr.), LB Devin Turner (Sr.), DB Jaquavious Tenner (Jr.) BIGGEST STRENGTHS Youth and inexperience are usually counted as a negative. The Tigers traditionally have a fair share of size and athletic ability. If they use predistrict games to find the right combinations and the ways to avoid costly mistakes good things can happen. However, the schedule overall is a challenging one. SEASON FORECAST The Tigers’ colors are red and black, but they may want to add a touch of green. Richardson has just one starter back on offense and a smaller-than-usual number of seniors. DHS’ new starters will be pushed to achieve early, which is a good way to prepare for the always challenging District 10-3A race.

ST. HELENA CENTRAL COACH: Johnny Felder | 2017: 12-3

ADVOCATE STAFF PHOTO BY BILL FEIG

Livonia wide receiver Jacobi Bellazin LIVONIA COACH: Marc Brown (3-7) | 2017: 3-7

PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS *QB Kerri Wells (5-10, 175, Sr.), *RB Jordan Bailey (5-10, 205, Jr.), *SE Romano Butler (5-8, 160, Sr.), *SE Trey Victorian (5-7, 165, Jr.), *SE Demetrick Leonard (5-7, 155, Jr.), SE Jacobi Bellazin (5-9, 180, Jr.), C Jermaine Leonard (6-1, 275, Sr.), *OG Josh Wilson (6-1, 280, Sr.), *OT Payton Marks (6-2, 275, Sr.), OT Tavian Hurst (6-4, 275, Sr.), OG Demetrick Burks (5-11, 270, Jr.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS *DB Charles Harris (5-10, 185, Sr.), *LB Raget Wayne (5-7, 190, Jr.), *LB Brennen Jones (5-7, 190, Sr.), *DB Sherdon Cotton (5-11, 180, Sr.), *DB Brayden Brown (5-10, 175, Sr.), DB Jaren Derogers (5-7, 165, So.), *LB Myles Guidry (6-2, 195, Sr.), *DT Jeffery Bailey (5-10, 295, Sr.), *DT Demetrick Burks (5-11, 270, Jr.) BIGGEST STRENGTHS The cliché is, “Defense wins championships.” However, an offense like the one LHS will field should be able to score plenty of points. Wells is going for his third season as a 1,000-yard pass. WR Jacobi Bellazin is among the top prospects for 2020. There are other targets and offensive options, which is never a bad thing. SEASON FORECAST There is a lot to like about the Wildcats of District 5-4A, especially on offense. QB Kerri Wells is a three-year starter and he has a group of talented receivers to throw to. With eight starters back on defense, there is the potential for huge improvements along with more stability in Marc Brown’s second year as coach.

SLAUGHTER CHARTER COACH: Devyn Baker Sr. (5-6) | 2017: 2-9 PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS *QB Shane Duncan (6-0, 210, Sr.), *RB DaMiquin Minor (5-9, 170, Sr.), *WR DaMarco Goss (6-0, 180, Sr.), WR Qua Watson (5-5, 151, Sr.), WR Bryson Eubanks (5-9, 150, So.), WR Ketron Jones (5-10, 182, Jr.), LT Anthony Williams (6-0, 250, Sr.), LG Cedric Irvin (6-0, 285, Jr.), C Christen Armstead (5-10, 250 Sr.), RG J’Darius Carter (6-1, 340, So.), RT Bryce Turner (6-4, 200, Jr.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS *FS Da’Marco Goss (6-0, 180, Sr.), SS Bryson Eubanks (5’9,150, So.) CB Ja’Quavieon Watson (5-5, 155, Sr.), CB Dejour Hall (5-10, 155, Sr.), *DE Bryce Turner (6’5 200,

PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS QB Deshon Singleton, RB Corey LeBlanc, WR Tyler Wilson, WR Shern Martin, *WR Mike Martin, WR Noah Williams OL Mathhew Claiborne, *OL Alex Self, OL Markeyz Baker, *L Brant Muse, *OL Dre Hitchens, *OL O’Cyrus Torrance PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS *LB Myron Smith, *DL Alex Self, DL O’Cyrus Torrence BIGGEST STRENGTHS O’Cyrus Torrence, all 6-foot-5, 330 pounds of him, is an imposing presence on the offensive and defensive lines and has plenty of backup. The Hawks are traditionally blessed with talent at the skill positions. Getting a new lineup of skill players the experience to make plays behind the line is crucial, especially in in powerful District 8-2A, which features rival Amite. SEASON FORECAST The Hawks made history by advancing to an LHSAA title game for the second time in school history, finishing as the runner-up to Welsh in Class 2A. Enter former St. Helena QB Johnny Felder as the new head coach. St. Helena graduated a number of skill players but returns a base of linemen. The Hawks will go as far in District 8-2A as those linemen can carry then.

SPRINGFIELD COACH: Ryan Serpas | 2017: 2-8 PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS QB Zach Wild (6-0, 185, Sr.), C Noah Binura (6-0, 180, Jr.), *OG Nick Macaluso (5-8, 185, Sr.), *OT Jason Brown (5-10, 255, Sr.), OG Ben Gainey (5-10, 265 Sr.), *OT Austyn Wallace (6-2, 280, Jr.), SE Nilan Pinestraw (5-9, 160, Jr.), SE Tyler Ratcliff (5-8, 155, So.), *RB RJ Serpas (5-8, 170, Jr.), *RB John’L Fryson (5-10, 190, Sr.), *TE Beau Husser (6-6, 240, Sr.) PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS *DE Beau Husser (6-6, 240, Sr.), *DE Ben Gainey (5-10, 265, Sr.), *DT Tykellon Jackson (5-10, Jr.), *DT Hunter Hue (6-1, Jr.), *LB John’L Fryson (5-10, 190, Sr.), *LB Nick Macaluso (5-8, 185, Sr.), *LB Waylon Mabry (5-10, Sr.), LB Kendall Stanga (5-8, Sr.), *DB Colten Davis (5-9, Sr.), DB Kenneth Moses (5-10, Sr.), DB Jaden Carter (5-9, Sr.) BIGGEST STRENGTHS RB/LB John’L Fryson and that core of starters, including 6-6, 240 TE/DE Beau Husser, took some lumps last year. However, if they stay healthy, they could become standard bearers for a team that surprises later in the year. SEASON FORECAST What will it take for the Class 2A Bulldogs to reverse their fortunes? Some early success in predistrict games would set a positive tone. Keeping a core group of two-way starters led by Fryson healthy is a must.

SCHEDULES ALBANY Aug. 31 Varnado Sept. 7 at Independence Sept. 14 Springfield Sept. 21 Sophie B. Wright Sept. 28 Sci Academy Oct. 5 at Bogalusa* Oct. 11 Jewel Sumner* Oct. 19 at Hannan* Oct. 26 Grant Nov. 2 at Loranger* *­—District 7-3A game

CHSPC Aug. 30 Port Barre Sept. 7 Ascension Episcopal Sept. 14 at St. John Sept. 21 at Slaughter Charter* Sept. 28 Sacred Heart* Oct. 5 at Loreauville Oct. 12 Westminster Christian* Oct. 18 North Central* Oct. 26 Open date Nov. 2 at Opelousas Catholic* *—District 5-1A game

DONALDSONVILLE Aug. 31 at Assumption Sept. 7 White Castle Sept. 14 Port Allen Sept. 21 at Morgan City Sept. 28 Livonia Oct. 5 at St. James* Oct. 12 St. Charles* Oct. 19 at Lusher Charter* Oct. 26 at Haynes Academy* Nov. 2 De La Salle* *—District 10-3A game

LIVONIA Aug. 31 Avoyelles Sept. 7 at West Feliciana Sept. 14 Northeast Sept. 21 at McKinley Sept. 28 at Donaldsonville Oct. 5 St. Martinville* Oct. 12 at Breaux Bridge* Oct. 19 Beau Chene* Oct. 26 Cecilia* Nov. 1 at Opelousas* *—District 5-4A game

SLAUGHTER Aug. 31 East Iberville Sept. 7 at Northside Sept. 14 Tara Sept. 21 Catholic-PC* Sept. 28 at Westminster Christian* Oct. 5 North Central* Oct. 12 Beekman Charter Oct. 19 Sacred Heart* Oct. 26 at Opelousas Catholic* Nov. 2 at Ascension Christian *—District 5-1A game

ST. HELENA Aug. 31 at Jewel Sumner Sept. 7 East Feliciana Sept. 14 at Varnado Sept. 21 Pine Sept. 28 at Pope John Paul II Oct. 5 at St. Thomas Aquinas Oct. 12 Springfield Oct. 19 at Amite Oct. 26 Independence Nov. 2 Northlake Christian *—District 8-2A game

ST. JAMES Open date Sept. 7 at Lutcher Sept. 14 at E.D. White Sept. 21 Wossman Sept. 28 at St. Amant Oct. 5 Donaldsonville* Oct. 11 at Haynes Academy* Oct. 20 at De La Salle* Oct. 26 Lusher Charter* Nov. 2 St. Charles* *­District 10-3A game

SPRINGFIELD Aug. 31 Ascension Christian Sept. 7 Cohen Sept. 14 at Albany Sept. 21 Northlake Christian Sept. 28 at Pine* Oct. 5 Pope John Paul II* Oct. 12 at St. Helena* Oct. 19 at St. Thomas Aquinas Oct. 26 Amite* Nov. 2 at Independence* *­District 8-2A game


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AREA HIGH SCHOOLS

SONS

Continued from page 61 lots of things. Being the home to three rising NFL sons happens to now be one of them.

Tunnel vision Most Atlanta Falcons fans focus on quarterback Matt Ryan or star receiver Julio Jones. Not Maverick McClure. “Uncle Matt” and “Uncle Julio,” as he calls them, were seldom his focus. “I watched my dad. I followed him, saw who he blocked and where he was,” McClure said. “He played until I was 11 years old. I remember being on the field and going to the practice facility with him when he would go for treatment. I got to hang out with the players, things other kids don’t do.” Todd McClure is a hometown hero. He played three sports at Central High and was a teammate of Clark’s at LSU before starting 195 of 198 games at center in 14 seasons for the Falcons. None of the fathers forced football on their sons. Maverick McClure is the lone junior and a prime example. Already 6-foot-2, 210 pounds, he made 104 tackles a year ago. Baseball is another option for him. “He has a knack for getting to the football, and we’re fortunate to have two linebackers who have it — Maverick and Wes Brady,” ZHS coach David Brewerton said. “He will be better this year.” For Todd McClure, it is hard to imagine life being better. He won four LHSAA baseball titles and played in a basketball title game at Central. But the McClures — Todd and his wife, Ryan — were awestruck when Maverick scooped up a fumble in Zachary’s win in the 5A title game last season. Celebrating on the Superdome turf, where Todd McClure once battled the Saints, was breathtaking. “I had success at LSU and with the Falcons,” Todd McClure said. “There is nothing like winning a high school title — especially a football title in Louisiana. My heart was so full. There were so many emotions. The word ‘proud’ doesn’t even begin to describe it.”

Potential realized Reggie Tongue was an NFL defensive back for 10 years. The ex-Oregon State standout met his wife, Debra, a Baton Rouge native, while playing for the Kansas City Chiefs, and the family eventually moved here. Makiya Tongue was 4 when his father’s NFL career ended, and Reggie Tongue actually nixed an early start for his tackle football career. “I wasn’t thrilled about things I saw in youth football,” Reggie Tongue said. “Winning seemed to be more important than teaching kids the right way to play the game. We did other things for a while.” There were flag football games and other sports until Makiya Tongue was a fifth-grader. He recalls an awkward transition. “At first, I really didn’t know what I was doing,” he said. “Most of the plays I made were because I was bigger than other kids

out there. I owe everything to my dad. I didn’t know what I wanted to be or how to get there. He taught me so much, including the value of hard work.” Now 6-3, 217 pounds, Makiya Tongue plays both sides of the ball but appears destined to make his mark on offense. He is ranked No. 13 among Louisiana prospects for 2019 by 247Sports. The decision to transfer from The Dunham School to U-High was a turning point. Makiya Tongue sat out his sophomore year and used the time to train. “For most of his career he’s been more on the defensive side, and he’s moving to be more of an offensive guy,” U-High coach Chad Mahaffey said. “Depending on how the depth chart looks and other factors, he would be willing to take on another position. Reggie played the game at a high level and he shares his knowledge with his son. You see that with Ryan and Jordan, too.” Reggie Tongue has one very dad-like wish. “I’d love to see him catch a bunch of balls ... like six or seven a game,” he said. “That probably won’t happen, but as a parent you want see your child excel at what they love. Ki makes me look good because he is a good kid and yes, he works hard.”

PHOTO PROVIDED BY THE TONGUE FAMILY

Makiya Tongue of University High and his dad, Reggie

Alike, but different Jordan Clark is as engaging as Ryan Clark, who has gone from the NFL to a career that includes personal training and broadcasting at ESPN. This son who loves to tell stories is a pretty good one himself. But at 5-11, 168 pounds, he weighs nearly 40 pounds less than his father did in his heyday. “We are very different players,” Jordan Clark said. “I’m a finesse cover guy. My dad was the guy who came up to hit people. I learn so much from him every day. He is a genius when it comes to film study and the game of football. I watch him train pro players and learn from that.” Jordan Clark is not committed to a college. He is 16th on the 247Sports list of 2019 Louisiana prospects. He Snapchats with one of Ryan Clark’s protégés, ex-LSU star Tre’Davious White of the Buffalo Bills. Heady stuff? Not for Jordan Clark, who grew up around the Steelers. Back in 2008, he helped break down final playoff practices with coach Mike Tomlin and got his own Super Bowl ring after the Steelers won. There is a twist to the story: Football almost did not happen for him. Jordan Clark played soccer and then basketball. The vision of a speedy Clark breaking ankles as a point guard was a tantalizing dream. Instead, he broke his own ankle as a ninth-grader. Next came a father-and-son heart-toheart talk about the sport that would provide the best chance to play in college. The answer was football. Another advantage: His mother, Yonka, can wear her Steelers jersey to U-High games because they look the same. “It is one thing to be a player and have a passion for a sport,” Ryan Clark said. “But to have your son grow up and see him develop that same passion … it’s surreal. I would not trade it for anything.”

PHOTO PROVIDED BY MCCLURE FAMILY

Todd McClure and his son, Zachary linebacker Maverick McClure

PHOTO PROVIDED BY THE CLARK FAMILY

University High’s Jordan Clark with his father, Ryan


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Football 2018: Heart of The Defense  
Football 2018: Heart of The Defense