Last Modified: Tuesday, August 07, 2012 11:33 PM
WESTLAKE — The day finally arrived, and Westlake head football coach Shawn Demeritt couldn’t have been happier.
Monday was the first official day of practice for all Louisiana high school teams as they prepare for the start of another season. Demeritt takes the reins of a Westlake program that hasn’t had a new coach since Max Caldarera nearly 40 years ago, and the former South Beauregard head coach said it’s taken some time to get acclimated to his new team.
But that time was well spent this summer.
“There’s been a lot of excitement, a lot of long hours, getting to know the kids, putting names with faces, getting to know people in the community,” Demeritt said. “We had to get to know each other and build a rapport, let (the players) know we care about them as people not just football players. It’s been a lot of fun, we had a really good summer, lifted weights four days a week and threw every Monday night.”
Westlake wide receiver Jacory Washington said he’s excited to hit the practice field and put the team’s new spread offense into motion, a new wrinkle Demeritt implemented instead of the Rams’ slot scheme last year.
“I think (Demeritt) came in knowing our tradition,” the 6-foot-5 Washington said. “I think it’s going to work out real well. I’m just happy we’re gonna be throwing the ball a lot more. They (senior running backs) Latrell Martin and Nick Latour going to put up some good numbers, but hopefully I’ll get a lot more touches than last year.”
Martin echoed Washington’s emotions. Martin said it will be hard to replace Devin Eaglin, the Rams’ workhorse back who put up more than 1,500 yards in his senior season, but he said he is looking forward to his increased role in the offensive scheme.
“It started off shaky in the summer; that’s why we trained as hard as we did,” Martin said. “Coach had us going early in the new sets and we adjusted to it well. I feel like it’s gonna be a more balanced offense this year.”
Martin doubles as a linebacker for Westlake on a defensive unit that returns five starters to the practice field for another season.
Demeritt knows challenges lie ahead in his first season as Westlake hopes to build on last year’s 7-5 campaign under Caldarera.
“As coaches we always put pressure on ourselves,” Demeritt said. “I’ve always put a lot of pressure on myself no matter where I’ve been as a head coach or an assistant. I’ve surely got some big shoes to fill; there’s no secret there. Coach Caldarera did an unbelievable job ... It’s really an honor to take over a great program such as Westlake High School.”
Now the summer and Demeritt’s adjustment period are over, and that means one thing.
It’s football time.