Jamborees foretell promising season

Published 10:02 am Tuesday, August 31, 2021

A first glimpse at area teams during Jamboree week last week helped answer some of the many questions that were in play going into the preseason, as last year’s unusual season, the annual departures due to graduation and an alarming lack of returning quarterbacks among the larger schools combined to form an unusually light number of known quantities heading into the season.

Many of those questions were answered positively, particularly those surrounding St. Louis, which had a somewhat disappointing season last year with a veteran group of players. The Saints entered this season light on experience, with a new, firsttime head coach and a new starting quarterback.

No problem last week, as the Saints produced one the best performances at the Sulphur jamboree in a 14-9 win over Barbe. The Saints made a lot of noise on the sideline before the game, and that energy carried over into a dominant performance for most of the game in Brock Matherne’s debut showing.

Quarterback James Reina was 6-of-7 for 144 yards with long touchdown passes to Grant Evans and Marcus Duhon. A young defense forced two turnovers and held Barbe scoreless until the final three minutes. It was just a half of football, but the Saints played with aggression and confidence, a good sign for Matherne as he tries to lead the Saints on a bounceback season.

One way Matherne is working around the inexperience issue is by playing his top guys both ways. Duhon is the Saints top defensive back but showed he can be a playmaker on offense. Linebacker Cody LeBato had a few carries at running back.

Two-way players were a big theme among area schools last week. Jennings star running back Trevor Etienne scored on a kick return, played defense and punted for the Bulldogs. Grand Lake’s Kent Zaunbrecher caught a touchdown pass and had a key pass break-up on defense. DeQuincy’s Taije Ceasar had an interception and helped the Tigers dominate possession in their win over La-Grange.

One of the area’s top two-way players from last season, TreVonte Citizen of Lake Charles College Prep, didn’t see much action in the Blazers win against DeRidder, but the Blazers showed that might be more of a ground and pound team after losing QB Dillon Simon and receivers Jaylen Joseph, Solomon Lewis and Glynn Johnson to the college ranks. That style of offense would complement Prep’s strong returning defense, which not only shut DeRidder out but produced a score of its own on a Kendrick Pete fumble return touchdown.

Like St. Louis, Westlake impressed with its level of play against Sam Houston in a 21-21 tie. The Rams had all sorts of issues last year while struggling through an 0-4 season, but are big and experienced on the offensive line this season and have a great group of skill players led by quarterback Jamaal Guillory, receiver Tristan Goodly and running back Brandon Jupiter, who missed all of last season.

The Broncos offense impressed after Sam Houston sat out last season. Baseball star Andrew Glass made plays running and throwing. Luke Yuhasz is one of the top athletes and most productive receivers in the area.

District 3-5A mate Sulphur also was impressive. QB Gage Trahan and playmaker Tag Stelly carried the Tors to a 24-0 win over Washington-Marion. The district slate provides no gimmies, but the Tors look like they’ll at least be competitive.

Barbe had an uneven performance vs. St. Louis, but running back Tylan Ceasar made plays on the ground and as a receiver, and Jamal Levi is an electric athlete who played receiver and cornerback. The Bucs figure to be one of the teams that improve the most over the course of the season after not playing varsity ball last season.

DeQuincy impressed in a win over LaGrange, grinding out first downs and popping off a big 66-yard run and 44-yard pass play. The Tigers have a difficult stretch to open the season, playing three straight games against teams from higher classifications, but closed last season on a good note and have taken a liking to the split-back veer scheme they shifted to during the middle of last season.

Hamilton Christian finished the year strong last year, winning three straight and four of five, with the one loss by four points to state runner-up Grand Lake. The Warriors will rely on a strong defense and played well in a 20-8 win over Slaughter Community Charter last week

Iowa, a 20-0 winner over Opelousas; and Rosepine, a 41-6 winner over Pickering, also made impressive debuts.

Warren Arceneaux covers high school athletics. Email him at warren.arceneaux @americanpress.com