Surely most of the state’s football fans are still down as the pride of the state’s collegiate programs, Tulane, suffered a tough loss to start the season last Thursday.
The healing process started Friday night with the first full night of high school football, which provided lots of good news to area fans. Let’s look at a few reasons for optimism the first week provided.
• Bronco Power: Sam Houston is suddenly overflowing with skill players on offense. The return of quarterback Kyle Bartley, running back Marcus Mott and receiver Braden Duhon gives the team absurd depth, with that trio joining freshman quarterback Luke Yuhasz and transfers Gerron Duhon and Tayven Grice, who caught 12 passes for 185 yards in Sam Houston’s win over St. Louis. Yuhasz threw for 176 yards in two-and-a-half quarters before giving way to Bartley, who completed his first seven attempts and finished off the Broncos comeback win. Mott ran for 96 yards and two touchdowns while filling in for Duhon, who sat out due to injury. The depth and versatility of so many skill players gives Broncos head coach Chad Paulk a plethora of options going forward, including using some of those players on defense.
• 5A arms race: Returning quarterbacks Luke Richard at Barbe and Morgan Clark at Sulphur erased any doubts that largely new supporting casts on offense would result in a drop of production. Richard accounted for seven touchdowns as the Bucs came away with a road win at Ponchatoula, while Clark led the Tors to 54 points in a shootout win over Carencro. A pair of new starting running backs, Zene Chretien at Barbe and Javian Creary at Sulphur, also produced big games. With Acadiana also producing a quality win over Kaplan, the District 3-5A is shaping up to be an exciting one with a host of contenders for the crown.
• Wampus Cats romp: Leesville is another team that entered the season with a lot of question marks on offense after losing the prolific tandem of quarterback Chris Vargas and running back/ receiver Andrew Croker, but head coach Robert Causey’s crew put up 38 points against a Washington-Mariond defense that features a trio of Division I commitments and was coming off a shutout win over Welsh at the Sulphur jamboree.
• Blazing: Lake Charles College Prep provided plenty of reasons to get excited in a win over Pickering, notably sophomores Dillon Simon and Glynn Johnson connecting on three long touchdown passes and the running back duo of D’Marcus Miller and Orenthal Lewis running for 197 yards and three more scores, but also a cause for concern with a penalty count that reached double digits. The Blazers get a good test against Rayne this Thursday, but can’t afford to keep making so many mistakes if it hopes to be a factor in what is shaping up to be a wide-open District 4-3A race. The Blazers have a trio of standouts on defense in linemen JaCalon Pitre and Tayvon Alexander and defensive back Shane Bradford, who can also make big plays offensively and as a kick returner.
• Jaunting Janice: Vinton lost one of the area’s most talented players in Tony St. Julien, but Jordan Janice stepped up with a 224-yard, five touchdown game last week. The Lions also have a weapon at receiver in Jaden Carrier and could be able to keep producing big point totals even without the big plays St. Julien provided over the past few seasons.
• Same Song in Rosepine: The Eagles had a coaching change but return their chief playmakers on offense in running back Seth Shirley and quarterback Seth Ducote, who combined for 350 yards of offense to lead the Eagles to a 35-13 season-opening win over Merryville last week.