Stefano Guarisco carries Central Catholic past Ascension Episcopal _lowres

Advocate photo by BRAD KEMP -- Ascension Episcopal running back Ja'Ceiry Linzer

What will Ja’Ceiry Linzer do for an encore?

The Ascension Episcopal School running back came out of nowhere in 2014 as he rushed for 1,800 yards and scored 27 touchdowns.

That performance earned Linzer first-team District 7-1A honors and made college recruiters take serious notice. Division I programs such as Minnesota, Mississippi State, Missouri and Memphis all began recruiting the 6-foot-3, 235-pounder.

“I felt like I could do it,” Linzer said when asked whether he expected to achieve that level of success as a junior. “I already had people pushing me to get what I needed to do. They always told me that I could do it. I just had to keep pushing myself.”

Linzer enters his senior season coveted by colleges, and he won’t be taking anyone by surprise. His coach doesn’t think that will make a difference.

“I think people saw him on film last year, and it took them two seconds to figure out what he was all about — and it still didn’t matter,” third-year coach Michael Desormeaux said. “I think we have guys around him this season that will make it difficult for teams to key on him.”

That balanced approach will help Linzer not rush back into a large workload for the Blue Gators. Linzer had to have offseason surgery on his knee. His rehabilitation is going ahead of schedule, and he expects to be on the field helping his team in the season opener at East Beauregard.

“I am not 100 percent as of yet,” Linzer said in early August. “In a couple of weeks, I feel that I will be ready for the season. I will be ready to go out there and help my teammates win.”

Desormeaux believes Linzer can be even more productive out of the backfield if he develops his hands. Linzer caught only 10 passes in 2014, with a few of them for two-point conversions.

“He really does a lot of things really well,” Desormeaux said. “He can complete himself though by getting better at catching the ball out of the backfield. He can really polish up there and add value to himself.”

Desormeaux expects Linzer to not only make a huge impact on offense again but also on defense at middle linebacker. Linzer played some middle linebacker as a sophomore and is being recruited to play that position at the next level.

“We are going to give him more responsibility on defense,” Desormeaux said. “We know other defenses that they are going to try to chop him down every chance they get. We can take pressure off of him by playing him more on defense. He can carry as much on defense as he has on offense.”

Linzer is looking forward to that.

“I already like hitting people,” he said. “I think I will be able to produce a lot on defense, just like I did on offense last year.”

TEAM CAPSULES

Ascension Episcopal Blue Gators

Coach: Michael Desormeaux

2014: 8-4, 4-2

Last playoff appearance: 2014 (lost to Southern Lab in second round of Division IV select playoffs)

Looking back: Led by a strong rushing attack, the Blue Gators averaged 38 points during the regular season and earned a postseason berth for the second straight year.

Moving forward: The Blue Gators return several pieces, including all-district first-team picks RB Ja’Ceiry Linzer and OL Mark Hodge.

Ask The Advocate: Even with Linzer recovering from offseason surgery, the Blue Gators should compete with Vermilion Catholic and Central Catholic for the district title.

Schedule

Sept. 4 at East Beauregard

Sept. 11 Catholic-Pointe Coupee

Sept. 18 at Delcambre

Sept. 25 Hanson Memorial#

Oct. 2 at Gueydan#

Oct. 9 Vermilion Catholic#

Oct. 16 at Centerville#

Oct. 23 Highland Baptist#

Oct. 30 Lafayette Christian#

Nov. 6 at Central Catholic#

Centerville Bulldogs

Coach: Anthony Hicks

2014: DNP; 2015 is first varsity season

Looking back: The Bulldogs were a junior-varsity team last season.

Moving forward: The Bulldogs finally get a chance to line up against varsity competition on Friday night.

Ask The Advocate: Expecting the Bulldogs to be a playoff team is unrealistic, but noticeable strides should be made.

Schedule

Sept. 4 Grand Lake

Sept. 11 North Central

Sept. 18 at Crescent City

Sept. 25 at Gueydan#

Oct. 2 Central Catholic#

Oct. 9 at Hanson Memorial#

Oct. 16 Ascension Episcopal#

Oct. 23 at Lafayette Christian#

Oct. 30 Vermilion Catholic#

Nov. 6 Highland Baptist#

Central Catholic Eagles

Coach: Tommy Minton

2014: 9-3, 5-1

Last playoff appearance: 2014 (lost to Ouachita Christian in Division IV select second round)

Looking back: The Eagles were in the mix for the district title, the only blemish a seven-point loss to Vermilion Catholic.

Moving forward: First-team all-district RB Stefano Guarisco, OL/DL T.J. Ruffin and LB Tanner Wiggins are all back.

Ask The Advocate: Central Catholic should contend for the district title but, to win, it likely will need to beat Vermilion Catholic, which it hasn’t done since 2010.

Schedule

Sept. 3 at St. John

Sept. 11 at Opelousas Catholic

Sept. 17 Ascension Catholic

Sept. 25 at Lafayette Christian#

Oct. 2 at Centerville#

Oct. 9 Highland Baptist#

Oct. 15 Vermilion Catholic#

Oct. 23 Hanson Memorial#

Oct. 30 at Gueydan#

Nov. 6 Ascension Episcopal#

Gueydan Bears

Coach: Robert Helo

2014: 0-10

Last playoff appearance: 2009 (lost to Delhi Charter in second round)

Looking back: The Bears had a another difficult season as the team went winless, was shut out four times and lost by an average of 29 points.

Moving forward: The goal is to end a losing streak that dates to 2012.

Ask The Advocate: It will take time to turn things around.

Schedule

Sept. 4 Ascension Christian

Sept. 11 at Grand Lake

Sept. 18 Covenant Christian

Sept. 25 Centerville#

Oct. 2 Ascension Episcopal#

Oct. 9 at Lafayette Christian#

Oct. 16 at Highland Baptist#

Oct. 23 at Vermilion Catholic#

Oct. 30 Central Catholic#

Nov. 6 at Hanson Memorial#

Hanson Memorial Tigers

Coach: Brett Blakey

2014: 6-5, 2-4

Last playoff appearance: 2014 (lost to St. Mary’s in Division IV select first round)

Looking back: After finishing 2013 strong with four district wins, the Tigers posted another six-win year and earned a playoff berth.

Moving forward: The Tigers lose first-team all-district lineman Shawn Moss but do return enough players at key positions to post at least a winning record.

Ask The Advocate: The Tigers have proved they’re a playoff team, but there could be even more success in the future.

Schedule

Sept. 3 at North Vermilion

Sept. 11 Delcambre

Sept. 18 at Hamilton Christian

Sept. 25 at Ascension Episcopal#

Oct. 2 at Vermilion Catholic#

Oct. 9 Centerville#

Oct. 16 Lafayette Christian#

Oct. 23 at Central Catholic#

Oct. 30 at Highland Baptist#

Nov. 6 Gueydan#

Highland Baptist Bears

Coach: Artie Liuzza

2014: 5-5, 2-4

Last playoff appearance: 2013 (lost to St. Frederick in Division IV select second round)

Looking back: The Bears didn’t match the seven-win total from the season before, but they did manage to earn a playoff berth and advance to the second round.

Moving forward: Several key players return, including RB Bronte Griffin, OL/DL Claude Tremblay and TE Brody Griffin.

Ask The Advocate: To compete for the district title, the Bears must find a way to improve their defense.

Schedule

Sept. 4 Houma Christian

Sept. 10 at Jeanerette

Sept. 18 at West St. Mary

Sept. 24 Vermilion Catholic#

Oct. 2 Lafayette Christian#

Oct. 9 at Central Catholic#

Oct. 16 Gueydan#

Oct. 23 at Ascension Episcopal#

Oct. 30 Hanson Memorial#

Nov. 6 at Centerville#

Lafayette Christian Knights

Coach: Derek Landry

2014: 5-5, 2-4

Last playoff appearance: 2013 (lost to Sacred Heart in Division IV select first round)

Looking back: The Knights appeared to be building on 2013’s first winning season in the LHSAA as they started 2014 with two wins, but then they went 3-5 and missed the postseason.

Moving forward: The Knights are looking to replace DL/TE Desmond Prejean and RB Dylan Hargrave. They do return QB Regan Miller and three starters on the offensive line.

Ask The Advocate: The Knights were close to being a seven- or eight-win team; three of their losses were by 10 points or fewer. A return to the playoffs is not unrealistic if the Knights can win those close games this time around.

Schedule

Sept. 4 Elton

Sept. 11 Loureauville

Sept. 18 at Ville Platte

Sept. 25 Central Catholic#

Oct. 2 at Highland Baptist#

Oct. 9 Gueydan#

Oct. 16 at Hanson Memorial#

Oct. 23 Centerville#

Oct. 30 at Ascension Episcopal#

Nov. 6 at Vermilion Catholic#

Vermilion Catholic Eagles

Coach: Russell Kuhns

2014: 10-2, 6-0

Last playoff appearance: 2014 (lost to Madison Prep in Division IV select second round)

Looking back: The Eagles ended the regular season with nine straight wins, claimed the district title and earned the top seed in the bracket but were upset in the second round.

Moving forward: The Eagles are stacked on defense. LBs William Noegel and Hunter Frith and DB Emile Trahan is coming off a first-team all-district season.

Ask The Advocate: The Eagles have all the pieces, including Frith at quarterback, to repeat as district champions.

Schedule

Sept. 3 Catholic-New Iberia

Sept. 11 Kaplan

Sept. 18 at Erath

Sept. 24 at Highland Baptist#

Oct. 2 Hanson Memorial#

Oct. 9 at Ascension Episcopal#

Oct. 15 at Central Catholic#

Oct. 23 Gueydan#

Oct. 30 at Centerville#

Nov. 6 Lafayette Christian#

# — district game