Among the things we’ve learned over the past few months are that shingle/tree debris cleanup is really irritating and America really loves its football.
The local gridiron season, in addition to being a welcome diversion, has been able to take place in fits and starts around the hurricanes, and the games that have taken place has provided a good deal of hope for local fans.
Jennings, the last area team standing last season and the Class 3A runner-up, has picked up where it left off, with the running back tandem of Trevor Etienne and Jalen Lewis wrecking opposing defenses. The duo have run for 624 yards and 12 touchdowns in the first three games. The Bulldogs are undefeated with quality wins over DeRidder, Cecilia and Eunice.
They get a big test this week with a visit from St. Louis, which is 1-1 to start the season. The Saints have a dynamic offense led by the triumvirate of QB Cooper Miller (325 yards, 2 TDs), RB Evan Joubert (174 yards 3 TDs) and WR Chase Wilson (13 catches, 159, 2 TDs). The Saints won last year’s game 41-21 en route to earning a share of the district title.
Lake Charles College Prep was the co-champion of that district last year, and as expected, has been piling up points this season with its quartet of star receivers and reigning All-Southwest Lousiana Offensive MVP Dillon Simon pulling the strings. Transfer RB Ja’Than Royal has provided a boost as a running and receiving threat.
Defense was the concern for the Blazers entering the season. Last week the defense shut out a good Kinder team in the second half and forced a pair of turnovers, including a fumble return for a touchdown by Jeremiah May. Given the strength of the offense, if the defense can create an extra possession or two a game and make a few stops, the Blazers will be tough to beat.
The district should have better depth this season. Westlake, which handed Prep its only district loss last season, opened the season last week with a heartbreaking loss at East Feliciana, but got a big boost from new starting quarterback Jamaal Guillory, who ran for 140 yards in his first start. The Rams ran for 291 yards as a team and features McNeese commitment Eli Goss on defense.
South Beauregard is 2-0 and has one of the area’s leading rushers in Malachai McElhany, who has 314 yards and 4 TDs already. The Golden Knights have a dual-threat quarterback in Kyler Kibodeaux, who has thrown for 268 yards and 3 TDs and ran for 95 yards and a TD in a wild 58-56, 4 overtime win over Iota in Week 2. Iowa started the season with a win over Marksville and features a pair of the area’s top athletes in DB Cejae Ceasar and WR Curtis Deville, who has scored in each Yellow Jacket game.
DeRidder rebounded from a narrow season-opening loss to Jennings with a win over Iowa and features one of the area’s top defenses led by linemen Quincy Archiele, Demarcus Hunt, Brian Tellis, Malcolm Faulkner and Derron Griffin. QB Kenneth Gooden and RB Isaiah Roberson give the Dragons a pair of offensive playmakers.
Leesville opened with a loss at state power Neville but should be a factor in the District 3-4A title race with DeRidder and Tioga. The Wampus Cats have a creative, explosive offense led by QB Jacob Mount and RB Caleb Gallashaw. In a pair of wins over the past two weeks, Leesville has scored a total of 97 points.
Kinder has a quality win over Opelousas Catholic and losses to St. Louis and Lake Charles College Prep. Outside of the second half of the Prep game, the Jackets have played well and could follow last year’s template, when it overcame a slow start against top competition to make a second half surge. The addition of transfers Brandon White and Trenton Bono gives the Jackets defense added punch.
Rosepine has scored 87 points over two games. QB Ethan Frey, a top baseball prospect who is committed to play at LSU, has thrown for 396 yards and 6 TDs while Grant Ducote has run for 302 yards and scored 5 TDs. The Eagles get a big test this week when they host Kinder.
In Class 1A, Grand Lake has overcome the tremendous obstacles caused by the hurricane damage to field a team, but has won all three games so far. Eli Fountain, who helped the Hornets hoops team reach the state tournament last year, has emerged as a jack-of-all-trades star on the gridiron. Defending district champion Oberlin opened district play with a big win over Hamilton Christian and should once again be a factor in the district race.