District 3-4A counterparts Crowley and Rayne found themselves with different incentives that fueled their offseasons.
The Gents wanted to wipe away the bad taste of a first-round exit in the Class 4A state playoffs, while the Wolves celebrated a school record fourth straight postseason trip.
Crowley (8-3) won eight games for the second consecutive season and was second to LaGrange for the district championship. But a 38-19 home loss to East Jefferson left the Gents craving more in 2015.
“I’m proud of what we’ve done and where we’re at, but there isn’t anyone in the program satisfied with any of it,” Crowley coach Josh Fontenot said. “That’s a good thing. We’re proud of the effort we’ve gotten, but we’re not satisfied.”
Rayne (9-3) maintained its stretch of excellence, extending a run of consecutive state playoff appearances to four, and wound up falling 36-14 in the Class 4A regionals to eventual semifinalist Franklinton.
“Rayne has typically been up and down over the years and had never been in the playoffs four consecutive years,” said Rayne coach Curt Ware, now in his 10th season. “That group of seniors is the only one to play in the playoffs every year. That was a big motivation, and now the big motivation is to keep it going.”
Rayne has signature returnees in quarterback Jaylon Reed and running back Trey Wilridge — a pair of juniors — leading the way along with anchors Richard Breaux and Austin Coleman at defensive end.
Reed helped the Wolves score 34.4 points and average 361 yards a year ago, completing 81 of 159 passes for 1,322 yards and 18 touchdowns. Wilridge carried 202 times for 1,240 yards and nine TDs.
“As long as we can continue to mature up front, I think we’ll be pretty good on offense again,” Ware said.
Breaux and Coleman represent two of Rayne’s five returning starters on a defense that also includes senior defensive backs Cameron Gibson and Devonte Robinson and senior linebacker Nicky Faucheux.
“I think our first two games are crucial,” Ware said of Church Point and St. Louis. “If we can win those two, then I think it’s going to set the tone for the rest of the season.”
Crowley looks to reap the benefits of a veteran program that features 15 returning starters, including 10 on a dynamic offense. Two-time all-district running back Ty’Von Griffin is one of six two-year starters on offense, having led the Gents with 263 carries for 1,688 yards and 27 touchdowns.
Quarterback Pate Broussard, another two-time all-district performer, enters his senior year with 2,991 career passing yards and 29 touchdowns.
Senior split end Terrell Thomas (29-393, three TDs) was the Gents’ top target a year ago along with fellow senior receiver Jacq’co Price (28-428, four TDs), a Tulane commitment.
“We know what we’ve got coming back on offense,” Fontenot said. “I think we’ve got some pretty talented guys and we should be productive on offense.”
Three of the Gents’ five returning defensive starters earned all-district acclaim with Price at cornerback (nine pass breakups), senior Ed Yokum (42 tackles, two sacks) at outside linebacker and senior John Marceaux (63 tackles, six PBUs) at strong safety.
“You never want to lose in the first round, but they’ve used that as motivation,” Fontenot said. “We have a good group of seniors that have been with us, and they realize this is their last shot to produce. That carries throughout the whole team.”
Coach: Josh Fontenot (18-15, 4th season)
2014: 8-3, 5-1
Last playoff appearance: 2014 (lost to East Jefferson in first round)
Looking back: Crowley has registered consecutive eight-win seasons.
Moving forward: The Gents’ veteran team will be tested early with three of their first four games away from home.
Ask The Advocate: Crowley won’t lack for offense or motivation en route to the district title.
Projected starters on offense (Multiple Veer): *TE John Marceaux (6-2, 180, Sr.), *SE Terrell Thomas (6-1, 170, Sr.), *OT Nick Deville (5-10, 235, Sr.), OG Matt Mire (5-11, 250, Jr.), *C Christian Breaux (6-0, 275, Sr.), *OG Zack Bergeron (6-2, 230, Jr.), *OT Kolby Guidry (5-10, 215, Sr.), *QB Pate Broussard (5-9, 160, Sr.), *RB Ty’von Griffin (6-0, 215, Sr.), *Cardracus George (5-10, 235, Jr.), *WB Jacq’co Price (6-2, 170, Sr.).
Projected starters on defense (3-4): DE Jackson Hetzler (6-1, 215, Jr.), DE Tyrone Andrus (5-11, 240, Jr.), NG Desmond Harmon (5-10, 225, So.), *OLB Ed Yokum (5-10, 215, Sr.), OLB Quenton Gallow (6-0, 190, Sr.), *LB Quanterral Robinson (6-0, 205, Jr.), LB Jardell Delco (6-1, 210, Jr.), *CB Mikal Hebert (5-10, 175, Sr.), CB Jacq’co Price (6-2, 170, Sr.), *S Xavier Johnson (6-2, 185, Jr.), *S John Marceaux (6-1, 185, Sr.).
Sept. 4 at Iowa
Sept. 11 Westlake
Sept. 18 at Cecilia
Sept. 25 at Eunice
Oct. 2 DeQuincy
Oct. 9 DeRidder#
Oct. 16 at LaGrange#
Oct. 23 Washington-Marion#
Oct. 30 Leesville#
Nov. 6 at Rayne#
Coach: Curt Ware (56-50, 10th season)
2014: 9-3, 4-2
Last playoff appearance: 2014 (lost to Franklinton in regionals)
Looking back: Ware has directed Rayne to four straight winning seasons and four consecutive playoff trips.
Moving back: The Wolves will be counting on five sophomores in the starting lineup, led by Darien Harmon at running back and free safety.
Ask The Advocate: The 1-2 punch of quarterback Jaylon Reed and running back Trey Wilridge will keep Rayne a formidable threat.
Projected starters on offense (Wing-T): TE Devonte Robinson (6-0, 205, Sr.), SE Johnny Delcuitt (6-1, 170, So.), *OT Ty Adkins (6-1, 280, Sr.), *OG Morgan Hayes (6-0, 200, Sr.), C Anthony Meadows (5-10, 240, Sr.), OG Andrew Chiasson (5-9, 185, Sr.), OT Ty Louviere (6-0, 240, Sr.), *QB Jaylon Reed (6-1, 190, Jr.), *RB Trey Wilridge (5-9, 185, Jr.), RB Drekylon Gibson (5-9, 165, So.), RB Cameron Gibson (5-6, 145, Sr.).
Projected starters on defense (4-3): DT Jaymee Gibson (5-6, 215, Sr.), DT Antonio Gabriel (6-2, 280, So.), *DE Austin Coleman (6-1, 240, Sr.), *DE Richard Breaux (6-1, 235, Jr.), LB Trent Winbush (5-9, 175, So.), *LB Nicky Faucheux (5-6, 175, Sr.), *DB Cameron Gibson (5-6, 145, Sr.), DB Donald Doucet (5-9, 160, Jr.), DB Drekylon Gibson (5-9, 165, So.), FS Darien Harmon (5-9, 175, So.), *DB Devonte Robinson (6-0, 205, Sr.).
Sept. 4 Church Point
Sept. 11 at St. Louis
Sept. 18 Breaux Bridge
Sept. 25 at DeQuincy
Oct. 1 at Eunice
Oct. 9 LaGrange#
Oct. 16 at Leesville#
Oct. 23 DeRidder#
Oct. 30 at Washington-Marion#
Nov. 6 Crowley#
* — returning starter; # — district game