Each time Church Point High safety Frederick Williams embraces the home crowd at Bears Stadium, there’s a special energy that accompanies the experience.
“Man, this is a community that loves sports and loves this team,” said Williams, a double-threat senior at wingback and safety. “Come to a game, and it’s just the atmosphere. It’s so intense. When you come out on the field, the noise coming out lets you know they’re behind you 100 percent.”
Coach John Craig Arceneaux said Church Point might be a small town, but the team receives unified support each season.
Located in an agricultural region of northern Acadia Parish, Church Point is a town of about 4,000 whose fans anticipate each Friday night game with unusual fervor, Arceneaux said.
“The thing about this program is that it has become part of the community,” said Arceneaux, in his eighth season at the school. “It’s like the town came together around your program. That’s what we have here. ... Each year it seems the fans keep coming back to see the Bears play football.”
Unlike some small-town teams with only one high school, the Church Point football program receives proper attention from the male student body. During Arceneaux’s tenure, the Bears have had as many as 90 kids participating during a single season.
“On the average, we’re usually somewhere in the 80s during a given year. This year, we have a little less — probably 70 or so,” Arceneaux said. “The kids here are interested in sports, and they are part of this community that supports them so well. In Class 3A, I would say our numbers are on the larger side.”
Since taking over as athletic director and coach, Arceneaux’s teams are 54-34. During the past two seasons, the Bears finished second in Division 5-3A and won 23 games.
Help in achieving that record has come from the school’s powerlifting program. Headed by football assistant Eddie Bergeron, the Bears have won Division III powerlifting titles seven of the past eight seasons.
“I think we’re a lot stronger because of it,” Arceneaux said. “I know that doing powerlifting has tremendously helped our linemen. Going to those state meets has really helped our football players with their willingness to compete.”
Bergeron said the powerlifting program has become an extension of Bears football.
“I think it gives the football players that extra opportunity to get stronger,” he said. “The players improve their physical strength and put on some weight during the lifting season. Technique-wise, I think it helps the linemen with their leverage. I think winning those championships like they have done also gives them confidence.”
This season, the Bears offensive and defensive linemen might need some extra assistance.
Church Point, picked by coaches to finish second in District 5-3A behind Eunice, has four new interior linemen on both sides of the ball.
Arceneaux guided the Bears to a quarterfinal berth in 2013, and last season Church Point finished 11-2 following a regional-round defeat to North Webster.
“We’ve had two memorable seasons, but now we want to move our program forward where we are a quarterfinal team every year,” he said.
Reaching that pinnacle this season will require some assistance from Williams, who intercepted three passes last year and returned one of those for a touchdown.
Williams and quarterback Troy Matte are the only starters returning in a backfield that has traditionally featured a punishing running game.
Arceneaux said Williams, who has shared the offensive spotlight with Christian Veronie and Deion Monroe the past two years, will have a larger role.
“Fred is as gifted an athlete as you will find in Class 3A,” Arceneaux said. “He’s back on both sides of the ball. He’s the type of guy who is a playmaker and a difference-maker.
“Offensively, he is going to get more touches. We’re not changing our offense. We’re going to continue to do what we do.”
No matter how the team fares, Williams knows the town will be there — even for away games.
“We have a slogan this season,” he said. “ ‘Our home out of town.’ ”
Church Point Bears
Coach: John Craig Arceneaux (54-34)
2014: 10-2, 4-1
Last playoff appearance: 2014 (lost to North Webster in second round)
Looking back: Church Point has finished 18-2 over the past two regular seasons as the runner-up in District 5-3A.
Moving forward: The Bears lost several key players from the past two seasons in which they participated in five state playoff games, but there are playmakers returning.
Ask The Advocate: Church Point might have the best Class 3A safety tandem in the state with returning all-state selection Frederick Williams and emerging star sophomore Trey Babineaux.
Projected starters on offense (Wing-T): TE J.C. Arceneaux (6-0, 190, Jr.), T Tyler Elliott* (6-2, 235, Sr.), T David Menard (5-9, 215, Sr.), G Patrick Savoie (5-10, 185, Sr.), G Tanner Matte (6-0, 165, Sr.), C Connor Higginbotham (5-8, 190, Sr.), SE Larenz Smith (6-1, 160, Sr.), RB Kylance Castille (5-9, 215, Sr.), RB Trey Babineaux (5-11, 185, So.), Frederick Williams* (5-9, 175, Sr.), QB Troy Matte (6-2, 180, Sr.).
Projected starters on defense (4-3): DT Kylance Castille (5-9, 215, Sr.), DT Damon Joseph (5-10, 189, Sr.), DT (Joel Briceno (6-0, 200, Jr.), DE Bryce Elliott (6-2, 176, Sr.), LB Alex Higginbotham* (5-9, 185, Sr.), LB Logan Lavergne* (5-9, 170, Sr.), LB Dylan Henry (5-10, 220, Jr.), CB Larenz Smith (6-1, 160, Sr.), CB Collin Latiolais (6-1, 185, Sr.), SS Trey Babineaux* (5-11, 185, So.), FS Frederick Wiliams* (5-9, 175, Sr.).
Sept. 4 at Rayne
Sept. 11 at Iowa
Sept. 18 at Kaplan
Sept. 25 Jennings
Oct. 2 Franklington
Oct. 9 Port Barre#
Oct. 15 at Pine Prairie#
Oct. 23 Eunice#
Oct. 30 at Northwest#
Nov. 6 Ville Platte#
Coach: Paul Trosclair (203-92)
2014: 4-6, 2-4 in District 4-4A
Last playoff appearance: 2013 (lost to Westgate in Class 4A first round)
Looking back: Eunice had a difficult time in 4-4A last year, missing the playoffs for the first time in many seasons.
Moving forward: The Bobcats have the largest enrollment of any Class 3A school and return to a familiar district they dominated for seasons.
Ask The Advocate: Defensive standout Travis Godfrey is worth a look; he has eight interceptions in two seasons.
Projected starters on offense (Wing-T): TE Lucus Deculus (6-0, 200, Jr.), T Shelton Langley (6-0, 205, Jr.), G Jonas Granger (5-9, 170, Jr.), C Jacob Lacombe (6-0, 290, Sr.), G Damien Comeaux (6-1, 235, Sr.), T Nic Victorian (5-8, 225, Sr.), SE Terryl Poullard* (6-1, 202, Sr.), SE Travis Godfrey* (6-3, 210, Sr.), RB Darrin Serie* (5-9, 185, Sr.), RB Nick Powell* (5-10, 180, Sr.), QB Alex Richard* (6-0, 175, Sr.).
Projected starters on defense (4-2-5): C Deshawn Vigers* (6-3, 170, Jr.), C Travis Godfrey* (6-3, 210, Sr.), C Halen Jack* (5-10, 180, Sr.), T Shemar Guillory* (6-1, 210, Sr.), E Cade Richard (5-9, 170, Jr.), E Larry Rideaux* (6-0, 210, Sr.), FS Wesley Hebert* (6-1, 205, Sr.), SS David Middlebrooks (5-9, 175, Jr.), LB Tylar Allison* (5-10, 180, Sr.), LB Ajyh Johnson* (5-10, 200, Sr.).
Sept. 4 Opelousas
Sept. 11 at Jennings
Sept. 18 at St. Martinville
Sept. 25 Crowley
Oct. 2 Rayne
Oct. 9 at Ville Platte#
Oct. 16 Northwest#
Oct. 23 at Church Point#
Oct. 30 Port Barre#
Nov. 6 at Pine Prairie#
Coach: Chris Edwards (4-7)
2014: 4-7, 3-2
Last playoff appearance: 2014 (lost to Kaplan in first round)
Looking back: After a sluggish start, the Raiders won their final three regular-season games and made the playoffs in their first season under Edwards.
Moving forward: Northwest has a veteran defense led by senior linebacker/running back Chris Lee, who calf ropes in rodeos on weekends.
Ask The Advocate: Edwards has two former Evangeline Parish head coaches, Kevin Manuel and Doug Guillory, as his assistants.
Projected starters on offense (Wing-T): TE Keyshawn Jackson (6-2, 240, So.), T Devin Calais* (6-0, 240, Sr.), G Troydale Gallow (5-9, 230, So.), C Kyron Richard (5-8, 230, So.), G Joseph Richard (5-8, 230, So.), T Mark Lachapelle (6-0, 255, Jr.), WR Terrel Guillory* (5-10, 160, Jr.) WR Matt Guillory (5-9, 155, Sr.), QB Damarcus Stevens (6-0, 200, Jr.), RB Chris Lee* (5-8, 205, Sr.), Jamarcus Collins (5-11, 175, Jr.).
Projected starters on defense (4-3): DE Matthew Rideau* (6-1, 235, Jr.), DE Anthony White* (6-0, 210, Jr.), DT Mike Guidry* (6-0, 300, Sr.), Kirk Bellard* (5-11, 230, Sr.), LB Gaige Wills* (5-10, 185, Jr.), Lionel Durreseau (6-0, 190, So.), McKenzie Roberts* (5-8, 185, Sr.), S Matt Angelle* (6-0, 175, Sr.), Abraham Gordwin* (6-0, 175, Jr.), CB Angelo Daniels (5-10, 170, Jr.), CB Tavian Gant (5-11, 170, Jr.).
Sept. 4 at St. Edmund
Sept. 10 at West St. Mary
Sept. 18 North Vermilion
Sept. 25 at Vinton
Oct. 2 False River
Oct. 9 Pine Prairie#
Oct. 16 at Eunice#
Oct. 23 Ville Platte#
Oct. 30 Church Point#
Nov. 6 at Port Barre#
Port Barre Red Devils
Coach: Mac Mistric (57-43)
2014: 3-7, 1-4
Last playoff appearance: 2013 (lost to Amite in first round)
Looking back: Injuries and turnovers created offensive inconsistencies in 2014.
Moving forward: The Red Devils have experience at nearly every position after being forced to play many sophomores last season.
Ask The Advocate: Offensive coordinator Paul Lanclos is coaching his son, senior quarterback Austin Lanclos.
Projected starters on offense (Wing-T): TE Spencer Broce* (5-10, 180, Sr.), T Jayce Raymen* (6-3, 260, Jr.) G Luke Ragas* (6-0, 240, Jr.), C Jeremy Johnson (5-10, 270, Jr.), G Hunter LeJeune* (5-9, 240, Sr.), T Frankie Levier* (6-2, 270, Jr.), SE Alex Olivier* (5-9, 170, Jr.), WB Brock Rozas (6-0, 170, Sr.), QB Austin Lanclos* (5-8, 170, Sr.), TB J.J. Sylvester* (6-1, 190, Sr.), FB Chris Johnson (6-0, 240, Jr.).
Projected starters on defense (4-4): DE Chris Johnson* (6-0, 240, Jr.), DT Spencer Broce* (5-10, 180, Sr.), DT Matt Mills (5-8, 240, Jr.), DE Colby Gable* (5-9, 180, Sr.), ILB Curtis Chevis (5-9, 240, Jr.), ILB Matt Leger* (5-10, 175, Jr.), OLB Terrence Lemelle (5-8, 160, Jr.), OLB Tevan Tyler* (5-9, 210, Sr.), CB Blaize Robin (5-5, 165, Jr.), CB Brock Rozas* (6-0, 170, Jr.), CB Giovanni Serraille (6-0, 170, Jr.), FS J.J. Sylvester* (6-1, 190, Sr.).
Sept. 4 at Opelousas Catholic
Sept. 11 at Sacred Heart
Sept. 18 Beau Chene
Sept. 25 St. Edmund
Oct. 2 Basile
Oct. 9 at Church Point#
Oct. 16 Ville Platte#
Oct. 23 Pine Prairie#
Oct. 30 at Eunice#
Nov. 6 Northwest#
* — returning starters; # — district games