District 6-1A features a new lineup for 2011, bringing wide-open expectations along with solid experience of post-season play.
Four 1A playoff teams join three schools that competed in 2-A in 2010.
Catholic High-Pointe Coupee, False River Academy, North Central, Opelousas Catholic, Pointe Coupee Central, Sacred Heart, St. Edmund, and Westminster Christian.
Among this list, St. Edmund navigated deepest into the playoffs last year, losing to eventual champion White Castle in the quarterfinals.
Coaches expect Opelousas Catholic (formerly of District 6-2A), Westminster and St. Edmund to be contending for district honors in 2011.
Westminster, 11-1 last year, enters the season having to replace its linebacker and secondary corps on defense.
“Our offensive line and defensive backfield will be our biggest areas of concern,” Westminster coach Tommy Badon said, who enters his ninth season at the helm of the Crusaders.
“Three new offensive line starters will have to develop quickly for us to be competitive in our three early games,” Badon said.
The Crusaders yielded only 72 points to opposing offenses last year. Gone is the All-State tandem of defensive back Chris Laborde and defensive end Chandler George. “So the newcomers will have big shoes to fill,” Badon added.
Offensively, Westminster must replace its top receiver and rusher in LaBorde, and James Martinez, respectively. With six offensive starters returning, including quarterback Thomas Kemp and running back Tyler Louviere, Badon expects veteran experience to blend nicely with new starters.
Opelousas Catholic is one of two teams stepping down from Class 2A.
Like Westminster, OC is having to replace its defensive starting lineup. The Vikings do return six starters on offense.
“We are young,” second-year coach Jeff Jordan said. “Fortunately many new starters have some experience from last year.”
To help ease the pangs of inexperience, expect the Vikings to employ more multiple defensive schemes off its traditional 4-2-5 sets, Jordan said.
“We started from scratch (on defense), teaching fundamentals, and as long as everyone takes care of their gap responsibility or zones in the coverage, we’ll be ok,” Jordan said. I do like our talent on defense.”
Jordon said a new start and district surroundings provide the Vikings with the environment to recapture its winning tradition and improve its record from a year ago.
“I like the district this year (6-1A). Because it’s single-A, depth will always be an issue. There’s a lot of talent in this district, but the real key will be staying away from injuries. I think if we can do this, then I like our chances at the end,” Jordon said.
Offensively, the Vikings return six - four offensive lineman, and skill players quarterback Adam Hebert, running back Zachary Hebert.
St. Edmund must reload its offense. The Blue Jays return only three offensive starters from a 9-3 team.
Right tackle Brandon Leger serving as the lone starter from last year’s team. Defensively, more experience prevails as the Blue Jays have two defensive line starters, Trey Quirk, Kalob Zaunbrecher; two defensive backs, Andre Aguillard, Adam Clause; linebacker Austin Lefleur and defensive back David Lefleur all returning.
To manage the new defensive personnel St. Edmund, which employed a 3-3-5 defense in 2010, will opt for the multiple defensive scheme in 2011, although they will miss the services of last year’s tackle leader Adam Wimberley.
False River returns 14 starters and hopes to improve on last year’s 4-7 record.
First-year FRA coach Matthew Edwards looks for his veteran players to galvanize the new starters into a cohesive unit offensively and defensively. “We have some guys playing in positions they did not play last year, so there will be a learning curve,” Edwards said.
“Overall, we have a really good group of guys coming back to play this year, and I believe we are going to do very well in our district,” Edwards added.
Defensively, False River returns linemen Marc Bennett, Brock Rockforte, John Fabre, all who welcome and intend to groom one new starter on the defensive line.
Similarly, most of its offense unit returns for the 2011 campaign, except at quarterback where junior signal callers Brody Crappel and Ryan Bossier expect to share action.
Meanwhile, Catholic High-PC moves into District 6-1A with an ample complement of veterans to go along with its new starters in 2011.
CHSPC coach Rod Funderburk is eyeing two sophomore quarterbacks, Andrew Jarreau and Cole Langdon, to replace the graduated starter Tyler Chustz.
Lineman Kyle Hawkins, Blake Scheeler, and Dillon Foster bolster the Hornet offensive line. Offensively, the CHSPC returns its top running back Forest Cazayou who accounted for 685 total offense and seven touchdowns in 2010.
In terms of experience, Pointe Coupee Central returns more veterans players than any other team in the league. Fifteen starters - nine on offense, six on defense - comprise a unit looking to improve dramatically after going 0-10 in 2010.
Cougars coach Lawrence Brown rates character as the greatest strength seen in this year’s team. “And the move to (District 6-1A) might be the best thing we ever did. It gives us a new start - a new outlook,” Brown said.
One new wrinkle in the Cougar offensive attack will be the move of Kevin Bourgeois from quarterback solely to running back in 2011. The majority of the quarterback play this year falls on returning starter, junior Rennard Maloid.