(Rick Hickman/American Press)
Last Modified: Sunday, August 10, 2014 1:39 PM
The fall of 2013 marked the return of football to Grand Lake High and the community is still abuzz about it.
Now, in the Hornets’ sophomore season, there is nowhere to go but up, especially with a new, proven head coach at the helm.
After 11 mostly successful seasons as head coach of the Lake Arthur Tigers, hometown hero Chad Lavergne returns to Cameron Parish to take over at Grand Lake. Lavergne never moved away from home, but was forced to commute to work for the past 19 years. Now it’s just a 5-minute drive.
“So far I really like it,” Lavergne said. “In my whole 19 years of coaching before this I always had to commute at least an hour. It’s nice to be able to drive just a couple of miles down the road to work.
“I know these kids, I coached them when they were younger and in the recreation leagues. I am really enjoying it.”
Lavergne brings some much-needed experience to a Grand Lake team that struggled to a 1-10 record last year that included a 38-6 first-round playoff loss to No. 9 LaSalle.
The first thing that the new skipper inserted when he took over was a new offensive scheme. Unlike most teams the Hornets are going away from the spread in favor of a split-back, run-heavy set. Lavergne said his new team took well to the transition.
“In the limited spring that we had, the kids picked up quickly on the switch to a run-first mentality,” he said.
The first order of business was moving last year’s starting quarterback Luke Miller to tailback for his senior season.
“With an 85-15 run-pass ratio we feel like Luke is more of a threat running the football and as a receiver out of the backfield,” Lavergne said.
Lavergne said junior Mike Mudd and freshman Jay Ballard are contenders to see playing time in the backfield.
Taking over at quarterback is junior Tyler Lavergne.
“He has run (this offense) in the Lake Arthur system with some varsity experience and has a strong arm,” Lavergne said.
The Hornets won’t be a run-only team, however, and possess a pair of athletes who Lavergne said he expects to be major factors in the passing game, senior tight end David Miller and junior receiver Tate Savoie. Miller played receiver last season while Savoie was an All-Southwest Louisiana Small Schools basketball selection.
Juniors Cole Verrett and Ben Meistrall return as starters on the offensive line.
The biggest question mark for the Hornets will be on the defensive side of the ball where they will have to play catch-up after Lavergne spent most of the spring focused on the offense.
“With extreme depth issues, players will be asked to play multiple positions,” he said. “But we want them playing aggressively and not getting overwhelmed with the cognitive part of the game.”
Lavergne said he expects defensive tackle Zane Kay and Miller, who will line up at safety, to be two of the biggest defensive contributors.
Grand Lake Hornets
Sept. 5 — vs. Ascension Episcopal 7 p.m.
Sept. 12 — at Gueydan 7 p.m.
Sept. 19 — at Pickering 7 p.m.
*Sept. 26 — vs. Elton 7 p.m.
*Oct. 3 — vs. South Cameron 7 p.m.
*Oct. 10 — at Oberlin 7 p.m.
*Oct. 17 — vs. Basile 7 p.m.
*Oct. 24 — at Merryville 7 p.m.
*Oct. 31 — vs. East Beauregard 7 p.m.
*Nov. 7 — at Hamilton Christian 7 p.m.