(Kirk Meche / Special to the American Press)
Last Modified: Monday, September 02, 2013 10:01 PM
OBERLIN — For the past five years, there has been arguably no more dominant district champion in Southwest Louisiana than the Oberlin Tigers.
Dating back to 2009 — when they reached the quarterfinals — the Tigers have reeled off four consecutive winning seasons and four district championships.
They are looking to make it a fifth.
“Winning another district title would be huge for this group of seniors because they will have been district champions all four years they played like last year’s group was able to be,” said first-year head coach Ronald Simmons. “For the school it would be a chance to make history because the most Oberlin has ever won in the past was four district titles in a row and that was back in the 1960s.”
Following their quarterfinal appearance, All-State running back Cedrick Skinner led Oberlin to 13 straight victories and a semifinal appearance in 2010. While that remains their best performance since winning the state championship in 1961, the Tigers have run the table on district opponents the past two seasons.
“If we want to get back to that (2010) level, the first thing we need is to stay healthy which is especially important in 1A since you have smaller numbers of players,” said Simmons. “We will also need a little bit of luck and make sure that we are improving every week.”
While Oberlin has received stiff competition from Basile, Elton and Hamilton Christian in recent years, this season may be their toughest road to the district title yet.
Basile returns a most dynamic offensive threats in junior running back Kendrick Ceasar and Elton returns a solid core of experienced players.
“Anytime we play either (Basile or Elton) it seems like the records don’t matter, it will always be a very good game no matter who is up or down,” Simmons said. “The last few years they have really challenged us and they always give us a tough game every year.”
In years past, the key to success for the Tigers has been a power running game, a smash mouth offensive line and a defensive front that rarely allows opponents to get very far. Simmons said that they plan on the same game plan this season.
“Every year our success hinges on our offensive and defensive lines, we only go as far as they go,” he said. “If we have a good offensive line we know we will be able to run the ball on whoever we face.”
Leading the rushing attack this year will be seniors Austin Darbonne and Lance Frank, who led the Tigers in rushing last season.
“The biggest thing that they bring is their leadership, but they are both great football players,” Simmons said. “Having two great backs that you can depend on is important because it makes it hard for our opponents to key in on one player.”
In addition to being a bruising, between the tackles back on offense, Frank is one of the most dominant linebackers in the area. The 2012 first-team All-District selection will be looking to build on his impressive resume in his fourth year as a varsity starter.
The Tigers open their 2013 season at home against the 3A Iota Bulldogs on Friday night.