Warren Arceneaux column: Contenders starting to emerge

Published 8:00 am Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Somehow we are already near the halfway point of the high school football regular season. To this point, the season has generally been a good one for are teams. Lake Charles College Prep looked like its former self Friday night after a two-game losing streak. Westlake is continuing the upwards trend it started last year. Welsh has capitalized on its experience to start the season 3-0, including a quality nondistrict win over Westlake.

A host of other teams have put themselves in position to compete for district titles and playoff berths with strong starts to the season.

Leesville, which looked like it was headed for a rebuilding season after big graduation losses last year, is also off to an undefeated start. The Wampus Cats lost most of their skill position players from last season, but sophomore running back Xavier Ford has not only stepped up to assume a leading role in the Leesville offense, but has emerged as the leading rusher in Southwest Louisiana with 935 yards and 8 touchdowns through four games.

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Wampus Cats head coach Robert Causey is one of the area’s most creative when it comes to putting an offense together, and has adjusted from a balanced attack that spread the ball around to a run-heavy scheme that features Ford. The Wampus Cats also have a strong defensive front that has allowed only 35 points on the season so far.

Leesville gets a big test this week when it travels to Opelousas (3-1), which has scored big wins over Lake Charles College Prep and St. Amant over the past two weeks.

Sam Houston started the season with losses to state power Many and New Iberia, but have bounced back with an overtime win over rival Barbe and a blowout win over Comeaux to start District 3-5A play. The Broncos have a big three on offense in running back Dennis Gardere (315 yards, 5 TDs, quarterback Gavin Stout (558 yards, 8 touchdowns) and receiver Drew Dronet (337 yards, 2 TDs).

The Broncos can clinch the unofficial “District 3-5A West” title with a win in Sulphur this weekend. Lafayette-area heavyweights Acadiana and Carencro are on the second half schedule, so a key for the Broncos will be winning the other three games on the schedule, against Lafayette, Southside and E.D. White, one of the state’s top Class 3A programs.

Elton might be the most improved team in the area. After two winless seasons wrapped around sitting out the 2020 season, the Indians have started this year in fine fashion, winning their first three before losing the District 5-1A opener to Basile.

Grand Lake is off to an undefeated start despite losing a pair of star linemen in Bryant Williams and Brett King from last year. The Hornets have switched from the veer to the flexbone offense. Fullback Ian Vigo (687 yards, 12 TDs) has been a wrecking ball so far as the featured runner.

Reclassification boosted the Hornets up into Class 2A, but they showed they can hold their own in the higher class last week with an overtime win over previously undefeated Oakdale. They will get more big tests coming up with district games against Welsh and Notre Dame in the second half of the season. Both of those games will be played at Grand Lake.

The Warriors (2-1) have overcome their own concerns about line play with a good start, highlighted by the play of running back Cedric Allison (632 yards, 7 TDs).

The Indians have a trio of dynamic runners in Sherman Bellow (447 yards, 10 TDs), Demarcus Jack (515 yards, 6 TDs) and Jadon Ross (313 yards, 5 TDs). The Indians currently hold one of the final playoff berths in Division IV and may need three more wins to secure a spot in the postseason.

A young Oberlin team finished last season with three wins in six games, with the losses by a combined 14 points, including a 13-7 regional round playoff loss to Grand Lake.

This year’s Tigers team is spreading the ball around, with Desean Deville, Noah Carter, Dominique Eaves and Demarius Williams all running for more than 200 yards on the season. Oberlin has allowed only 22 points in two games against 1A opponents, both blowout wins. Continued growth could have the Tigers on track for another long playoff run.

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