Davis has Vinton on track for playoffs

By By Troy LaFleur / American Press

The Vinton Lions have spent six long years on the outside looking in while their area counterparts made the annual trip to the state playoffs, but 2013 may be the year that they finally buck that trend.

The Lions are off to a 2-0 start thanks in large part to an explosive offensive showing. An offense that led them to a 49-22

win in Elton last weekend. A victory that some considered an upset.

“That was a really big win for us,” said third-year Vinton head coach Tarius Davis. “We knew going into the game that we had

a chance to win, but we also knew they had several playmakers who could give us some problems. Going on the road early in the year and get a win over a good team is a positive for us and hopefully

we can build on that.”

The Lions haven’t always struggled,

though. In the 1980s and ’90s the program remained consistently in the

win column and,

as recently as 2006, were in the state quarterfinals. However,

their heartbreaking loss at the hands on St. James was the

last time the Lions felt the playoff pressure. Over the course of

the next four years they compiled a record of 7-33, including

a winless 2009 season.

In 2011, Vinton made a bold move and hired Davis, a first-time head coach and former McNeese State Cowboy, to help turnaround

their program.

“Knowing I had to turn around the program was part of the reason I took this job,” Davis said. “Vinton was always a good team.

I remember playing them when I was in high school (at Lake Arthur) and they were always tough.

“I knew coming in that it may take

time, and I knew it wouldn’t be an easy turnaround, but I think we have

the program moving

in the right direction and once we win some more football games we

can build that confidence that they used to have at Vinton

High School.”

The Lions started 2-0 last season, but the team was not able to build on that momentum and finished 3-7. A high-tempo offense

and a nucleus of returning starters might change that this season.

“We only have six seniors, but they are doing a good job for us and our juniors have really stepped up big for us,” Davis

said. “The junior class is where most of our playmakers are and their teammates really look up to them.

“No matter where you go, people look to the quarterback for leadership and ours has done a good job of accepting that role.

Tanner Guidry is in his second year as a starter and he has grown well along with other playmakers like Anfernee Dixon and

James McMillon.”

That offense has compiled 589 total yards through the first two weeks. Their 320 yards rushing against Elton marked the first

time the Lions rushed for more than 300 yards as a team in more than four years.

“We know that we have the players in

our skill positions to put up big numbers, but finally being able to do

it is very exciting,”

Davis said. “We changed our offense this season, but we think it

fits our personnel better.”

If the Lions hope to open the season 3-0 for the first time in more than 20 years they will have to get past Merryville (0-2)

on Friday night.

The Panthers boast an efficient passing attack. Merryville has accumulated 280 yards in its first two games.

“This is a very important game for us.

The 2006 team started 2-1 and we want to be the first in a long time to

start 3-0,”

Davis said. “We know the game Friday night won’t be easy by any

means, though. Merryville is a solid team who played Pickering

and Rosepine really close. Their quarterback is good and he has

some good weapons, but we think that if we do what we need

to do, we can get the victory.”