Warren Arceneaux column: Young stars provide hope

Published 5:10 pm Tuesday, September 28, 2021

As expected, the win-loss records for the five area teams that sat out last season — Barbe, Elton, LaGrange, Sam Houston and Washington-Marion — aren’t stellar, but each of the five have seen reasons for optimism so far this season. Primary among those has been the emergence of talented underclassmen at each of the returnees.

The Broncos and Charging Indians are both 2-1 and have to feel great about where they stand at the moment.

Sam Houston opened with a brutal loss to West Monroe and had injuries to starting QB Andew Glass and senior WR Luke Yuhasz, it’s most experienced and accomplished player. New coach Chad Davis has kept the Broncos on track. Freshman QB Gavin Stout threw for 260 yards and led the team to a District 3-5A win over New Iberia in his first start. Running back Dennis Gadere and receiver Quinton Simon, a pair of underclassmen, have moved into bigger roles on offense and senior Ashton Fuselier has emerged as a leader on defense. The Broncos got a break with the schedule, opening with two home games. A win Friday would help boost the Broncos playoff chances.

Washington-Marion dropped a close game to St. Louis last week, but looks set to compete for the District 4-4A title. New head coach Jules Sullen has quickly shaped the Charging Indians into a dangerous team. Junior Derrick Paul is a standout running back who can make plays running and receiving. He has rushed for over 100 yards in every game so far and runs with a mix of power and elusiveness. He and Ray Thomas can make plays running and receiving. QB Justin Thomas, also a junior, is developing quickly. Receiver Tyree Brown, a junior, is one of the area’s most dangerous all-around players, excelling as a defensive back and kick returner as well.

At the moment, W-M is the only 4-4A team with a winning record, though traditional power Eunice is at 2-2 and will host the Charging Indians in Week 7. The Charging Indians host four of their remaining six games. Sullen’s preseason goal of reaching the playoffs could be within reach by the end of the season.

Barbe sits at 1-3 after suffering a tough loss at Southside in its district opener. Juniors Will McClain and Jamaal Levi are putting up huge numbers in the passing game, with McClain having thrown for 1,125 yards and 12 touchdowns through four games. Levi has 25 receptions for 748 yards and 10 touchdowns, with another touchdown rushing and on a kick return.

The Bucs conclude a tough first-half schedule this week with a trip to New Iberia. They finish with three home games in the second half, including against local rivals Sam Houston and Sulphur. Those games could be crucial to the Bucs playoff hopes.

Elton has yet to get into the winner’s circle, but has been competitive over the past two weeks, losing by a combined 22 points. Junior running back Sherman Bellow is among the area leaders with 553 yards and 6 touchdowns. He has already run for more than 200 yards in a game twice this season. Senior quarterback Maddox Pierrotti provides balance with 407 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Defense has been the issue for the Indians, with 192 points allowed. The Indians have enough offensive talent to compete with the teams in the bottom half of District 4-1A.

LaGrange has faced a similar fate. The Gators are in a tough situation with only a handful of seniors on the roster facing a tough schedule. The best signs for hope have come on offense, where sophomore running back Keshaun Doucet has run for 501 yards and 6 touchdowns.

The passing game is led by a trio of juniors in QB Jason Wilson (599 yards, 3 TDs) and receivers Chris Dixon (265 yards of offense, 2 TDs) and Omarion Randolph (21 catches, 266 yards, TD).

l

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