Westlake’s first line of defense

Francis takes on expanded role

<p class="p1">In 2015, Cedric Francis started playing for the Westlake Rams freshman football team. But two games into the season he was called up to the varsity team after a starter went down with an injury.</p><p class="p3">That first game was an eye-opening experience for Francis.</p><p class="p3">“I was terrified,” Francis said. “Everyone was pretty much bigger than me and had a lot more experience.”</p><p class="p3">Now, with 28 starts over three seasons, Francis is the leader up front for the Rams.</p><p class="p3">“I have improved a lot,” Francis said. “I know what to expect on Friday night.</p><p class="p3">“It feels great. It has been a long time since freshman year.”</p><p class="p3">It wasn’t until his sophomore season that he started to feel comfortable in his role as the anchor of the defensive line at 6-foot-3, 265 pounds. In Week 9 of the 2016 season, Francis and the Rams were able to limit running back Travis Etienne — now a sophomore at Clemson — to 110 yards after the Jennings standout had rushed for 200-plus yards in three consecutive weeks.</p><p class="p3">“Cedric came in as a freshman and played in one or two freshmen games, dominated, then we had an injury early in the year up front,” Westlake head coach Phil Fontenot said. “He was the best option we had. </p><p class="p3">“We took our lumps with him. Ever since then he has got progressively better and better every year. He is one of the best D-linemen that have come through here in awhile.”</p><p class="p3">Francis enjoys his role as the first line of defense.</p><p class="p3">“You are the first person there and the running back and quarterback are right there,” Francis said “It is pretty fun. I am trying to play to the best of my ability.”</p><p class="p3">Francis’ ability to draw double and triple teams has created opportunities for teammates. Even with the extra attention Francis found plenty of his own stops last year, racking up 69 tackles, eight sacks, 14.5 tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles and was voted to the 4-3A all-district team and <em>American Press</em> All-Southwest Louisiana team.</p><p class="p3">“We play him a lot of times as a head-up nose guard right over the center,” Fontenot said. “Any time you play over the center, it occupies three people. </p><p class="p3">“You have to account for him with the center and both guards. He creates a lot of double teams which allows our other players to make plays. If you don’t double or triple team him up front, he is so quick he can get through the gap and cause havoc in the backfield.”</p><p class="p3">Fontenot said Francis will take on an expanded role this year that will include more time at tight end and at defensive end, dropping into coverage at times against opposing tight ends.</p><p class="p3">Westlake won three of its final five games last year, including a 27-20 upset of then-undefeated No. 3 Jena in the first round. Francis said the game was a great confidence boost heading into this season as the Rams look for their first district championship since 2010.</p><p class="p3">“We came together (last year),” Francis said. “The confidence is a lot higher and we have improved a lot over the (offseason). We are pretty much the underdogs but we will give them some competition.”</p>””<p>Cedric Francis, sr., #84, Westlake Rams</p>Kirk Meche/American Press

Business News

Louisiana float to appear in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Local News

Jeff Davis School Board approves one-time pay supplement

Crime

15-minute deliberation before Vernon man convicted of recruiting prostitutes

Crime

Kinder man convicted in double homicide

Crime

10/22: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff announces arrest list

Local News

More than 500 vehicles expected at Last Resort car show

Local News

SW La. nightlife calendar: Here’s what’s happening

Local News

It’s Spooktacular: Coats for Kids kickoff Oct. 29

Crime

DeRidder man convicted of kidnapping will be resentenced on drug charges

high-school Football

Dragons return home to face Bolton

Local News

Happy Halloween: Your thrill guide to fall fests and all kinds of frightening fun

Local News

Katie Daniel: Favorite thing about teaching art is seeing imaginations on display

Local News

Parents given quarantine option in Jeff Davis

Local News

Calcasieu wants nearly $4 billion more in relief funds

Local News

Photo Gallery: McNeese Homecoming Parade

Business News

AT&T expanding footprint in Lake Charles

Business News

Metalplate Galvanizing asks Jeff Davis School Board for tax exemption

Local News

Monoclonal antibody community-based treatment sites open

Crime

Driver in Moss Bluff hit-and-run sought

Jim Beam

Jim Beam column:Some past history helps

Local News

Doctor: COVID cases improving, but region still at risk

Local News

Mayor: Laura left behind 300-400 condemned commercial buildings

Local News

Remaining animals will not be euthanized while shelter temporarily closed

Crime

Leesville man will be resentenced in robbery