Wainwright puts Grand Lake on fast track to success
“Can you win here at Grand Lake?,” was the question Jeff Wainwright asked last year when interviewing for the head coaching job.
After being assured by athletic director Scott Miano that the work ethic of the kids at the school made winning possible, his question was quickly answered. The Hornets had a winning season and won a playoff game last season. Friday night they will play in a Class 1A semifinal game at East Iberville.
The Hornets (7-1) lost 28-20, in overtime, to East Iberville (8-1) in the regional round of last year’s playoffs.
Now Grand Lake has a chance to both extract some revenge and earn a spot in the program’s first state championship game. East Iberville is also in the semifinals for the first time.
Wainwright said his players made the transition to a new coach easy.
“From day one, Coach Miano said he believed in the kids,” Wainwright said. “Sometimes you get lucky on the vision (for the program) and having good players and the players buying in when a new coach comes in. I have been lucky with that from the coaching staff and players. We’re thankful for the opportunity.”
The Hornets have held each of its last three opponents to six points while averaging 39 points themselves.
Wainwright said his kids do a good job of preparation during the week, allowing them to shine on Friday nights.
“The kids have all understood their roles and what the other team’s offense is trying to achieve,” he said. “We’ve been making tackles and making it hard for opponents to get the leverage they need to make their plays work. Our linebackers have been playing well and making tackles from sideline-to-sideline. Offensively, we have been able to get the running game going with all of the running backs. We converted Fountain to running back and he has done well. Levi Murrell has been steady for us the whole year. Nathaniel Murrell and Branson Aguillard also get carries. We rotate four backs and they are all tough kids. Any one of four can be gamebreakers and each of them have carried us at one time this season.”
East Iberville has a new head coach in Justin Joseph, but looks similar to last year’s team.
“The new coach kept everything intact, it is a lot of the same players we played against last year,” Wainwright said. “They re running the same offense and defense. They have a lot of good players and know their schemes well. They are fast and run a lot of buck sweeps, using their speed to get to the edges. They stretch your defense out and put you in a lot of one-on-one situations where you have to make tackles. We are going to have to make tackles.”
East Iberville also enters on a three-game winning streak, averaging 35 points per game in those games. The Tigers beat traditional power Haynesville 25-15 last week.
Rick Hickman / American Press