LCCP learns defense wins titles
The Lake Charles College Prep Traiblazers have been rolling most of the season, piling up 11 wins in 12 tries behind the play of a fast and physical defense.
The Blazers (11-1) will travel to Kaplan (9-3) on Friday for a Class 3A quarterfinal game, the deepest playoff run for the young program.
Senior safety Shane Bradford said the foundation for the successful season was laid a long time ago.
“I knew in the offseason we had something special, going back to all the work we put it starting in January,” Bradford said. “The numbers in the weight room were crazy; everyone has been disciplined and on time and given 100 percent effort every day.”
Bradford makes sure his mates in the secondary do their work off the field during the week.
“I make sure they focus when they watch film, take notes, learn the tendencies and weaknesses of opponents,” he said.
Blazers defensive coordinator Terence Cahee, in his first year at the school, helped the Blazers improve from allowing 36 points per game last year to 11 points per game. LCCP has allowed more than 18 points once, 35 in its loss to Notre Dame. In the five games since, Prep has allowed a total of 36 points.
Cahee said he keeps things simple.
“My mind-set has always been if you can simplify it for the kids, let them play fast and physical, make it less reactive, more running full speed, the better you are,” he said.
“We have done a better job of limiting the penalties, getting people off the field on third downs and tackling. Early in the season we were doing a poor job of wrapping up and finishing plays. Over the last half of the season we have been flying around, hitting people and imposing our will.”
Cahee said the Blazers success starts up front.
“We have a really good line,” Cahee said. “They set the tone week in, week out. JaCalon Pitre, Tre Henry, Chase Outley, Dylan Vincent and Tayvonn Alexander, who plays some on the line and some at linebacker, they don’t miss a beat.
“Pitre is one of the most coachable kids I have been around. He doesn’t make mistakes. Every week we have a package of things we want him to do, and he does a great job. He is hard to block one on one, I haven’t seen anyone do it yet.”
While Pitre controls the middle, Vincent brings pressure from the outside with a team-leading 10 sacks.
“Vincent, when we got here, we really didn’t have a spot for him,” Cahee said. “We just taught him our principles and he has excelled. He is relentless. He is our smallest lineman but maybe the strongest.
“Alexander is a prototype guy, 6-3, 225 who can run. He has a motor and goes all night. I try to put him everywhere, from tackle to end to middle linebacker to outside and even some strong safety. He can do some really good things.”
Bradford leads the unit on and off the field.
“Bradford is a ball player,” Cahee said. “I have been around a lot of kids and he is up there with the best of them. He competes in practice. Anything he does, he wants to be the best. We are blessed to have him. He makes all the calls in the secondary. He is good in one-on-one coverage, good at safety and good in the box making tackles.”
Pitre said the team has had to revise its list of goals after going undefeated in District 4-3A play.
“Before the season our goal was to win district and make a run in the playoffs,” he said. “Now it is to win a state championship. I have enjoyed this run we have been on; it is something I have never experienced before.”
The Blazers’ run of wins is the only kind of run Pitre tolerates. Stopping the opponent from running the ball is his focus on the field.
“I have stopped the run, that was my main thing coming in,” he said. “I have gotten stronger, bigger and just nastier. I have been dominating everybody. I don’t think there has been a matchup I didn’t win.”
Bradford said Prep believes it can keep the season going.
“We have a lot of confidence in ourselves,” he said. “We know how good a team we have.”
Lake Charles College Prep defense stops Northwest from making the first down during the LSHAA 3A 2nd Round of Football Playoffs at Ward 3 Stadium in Lake Charles, Louisiana on Friday, November 16, 2018. (Dennis Babineaux/Special to the American Press)