(Rick Hickman/American Press)
Last Modified: Monday, August 25, 2014 10:23 AM
JENNINGS — A pair of dogs are looking to leave their mark on a new season.
Both the Jennings and Iota Bulldogs want to take a step in the right direction this fall.
The Jennings Bulldogs finished the last year one game away from playing for the Class 3A state championship, while the Iota Bulldogs went winless and are looking to improve this season and make a return trip to the playoffs.
Jennings is looking to remain one of the elite Class 3A teams this year as head coach Rusty Phelps enters his 20th season at the helm. Jennings has experience, with 32 seniors and returns only six starters back on offense. Leading the way will be Kaleb Chaisson at quarterback and Lamontay Mouton at running back. Phelps believes the running back position is very deep led by sophomore Travis Etienne and returning a pair of other running backs who all gained valuable experience last year.
Other returners on offense include a two-year starter Curtis Bell at tight end who is also being recruited at the college level. Taylor Joseph returns at wide receiver as his season was cut short early last year with an injury. Two returning starters on the offensive line are back in William Green and Blaise Courville.
“I think we have a good nucleus coming back on both sides of the ball as you can’t beat experience,” Phelps said. “We have two offensive linemen returning who started 14 games last year and we have Curtis Bell who has been a three-year starter for us at tight end. The experience we have coming back showed in our spring practices.”
Jennings returns six starters on defense as well. Returning at linebacker is Brett Fontenot, who was all-district performer last season. Joey Scoggins also returns at one of the other linebacker positions.
Isiah Reed is back at defensive lineman and Kurt Daigle returns at one of the defensive tackle positions. Two members of the secondary return in Warren Dale Charleston at cornerback and Sherman Gant playing free safety. Bell will also see considerable playing time on the defensive line.
“We mix in some guys who played a lot of football for us last year so we have a great starting point,” said Phelps. “Our kicking game was made up most of the same players we had last year and consist of same ones this year. We are looking for depth and looking to solidify positions on the offensive line and couple of strong safety positions. We feel like we have some pieces to start the season with in great shape.”
The special teams will also see a returning starter in Seth Cox who will handle both the punting and place kicking duties for the third consecutive season.
“Our district is again to be tough the same as it was last year,” Phelps said about District 4-3A. “It is going to be very demanding and most of the teams like to run the football. When you get down to the seventh and eighth week In this district it starts to take your toll on you, as every team is very physical on defense and up front. I think the key for every team in our district is staying healthy. I think it will come down who can stay the healthiest.”
Iota is looking to improve on last year’s 0-10 season with a return trip to the playoffs. Coach Neal Lege returns for 7th season as head coach in two different stints at the school.
“We have some real young kids on our team,” Lege said. “I think we are a year away. We only have about 45 guys on our team compared to over 80 on most of the teams we play.”
Iota’s offense returns six starters. Adam Ardoin will be leading the way as he is the only returning All-District player. The senior missed the first five games of the season last year with an injury, but in only five games rushed for 897 yards. Tim Lunson returns at quarterback but will also see some playing time at wide receiver. Iota has two returners on the offensive line in Tyler Bushnell and Brad Chestman.
Iota’s defense is really young as it only returns five starters. Leading the way on defense will be Bryce Leger at the defensive tackle position. Other notable returners include Wyatt Manuel at linebacker and Jesse Lejeune at free safety.
“We have a lot of guys who play both ways and that’s really tough in a district like ours with all the good teams,” Lege said. “We have had some good summer workouts and hope we can stay healthy and improve on last season.”
Sept. 5 — vs. St. Martinville, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 — at Eunice, 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 — at DeRidder, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26 — vs. Plaquemine, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 — vs. Winnfield, 7 p.m.
*Oct. 10 — at St. Louis, 7 p.m.
*Oct. 17 — vs. South Beauregard, 7 p.m.
*Oct. 24 — at Iota, 7 p.m.
*Oct. 31 — vs. Iowa, 7 p.m.
*Nov. 7 — at Westlake, 7 p.m.
Sept. 5 — vs. Oberlin, 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 — at St. Edmund, 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 — vs. Lake Arthur, 7 p.m.
Sept. 25 — at Welsh, 7 p.m.
Oct. 3 — at Kinder, 7 p.m.
*Oct. 10 — at Iowa, 7 p.m.
*Oct. 16 — vs. Westlake, 7 p.m.
*Oct. 24 — vs. Jennings, 7 p.m.
*Oct. 31 — at South Beauregard, 7 p.m.
*Nov. 6 — vs. St. Louis, 7 p.m.