Louisiana schools within Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) expect a competitive field vying for the district title in 2011.
The MAIS District 6-AA comprises three Louisiana schools: Silliman, Central Private and Oak Forest and two Mississippi teams: Centreville and Bowling Green, from Pike County, Miss.
Coaches feel that Centreville could be sitting atop the district when regular season play concludes in November.
However, Silliman could be as dangerous a team as anyone in 2011 if coaches there can get its veteran-laden team to manage its adversarial challenges, as well as the physical aspects of playing through a season.
All of which translates into “learning how to win football games,” Silliman coach J.T. Davis said.
“All of our guys have played together since they were junior high ball. They all know me well. We have talent but these guys have not had a lot of success winning in the past and that’s what we are trying most to learn,” Davis said.
The Wildcats return nearly 20 starters, although many in that group are playing both ways. As long as Silliman can stay healthy Davis remains confident that his Wildcats could right in the thick of the district race at the end.
“We grew so much from Week 1 to Week 10 last year,” Davis said, whose Wildcats notched a 4-6 record in his inaugural year as head coach.
“If we can get our guys to battle through adversity, this team could end up being a force,” Davis said.
Unfortunately, the Wildcats have experienced a few pre-season setbacks already as returning starting quarterback Jason Palermo went down with a hand injury during seven-on-seven drills recently. However, the senior is expected to be active by the first game. Tight end JQ Austin sustained a broken ankle in non-contact drills and won’t return until midseason.
“Since we have so many guys playing both ways, when an injury occurs to one of our starters, in effect, we’ve lost two people,” Davis said.
In 2011, Central Private finds itself having to replace six starters on offense and seven on defense from a playoff team a year ago.
“Our biggest weakness will be our offensive and defensive lines,” Rebels coach Mike Longmire said.
“We need to gain experience early and have success with our young kids.”
Offensively, the Rebels welcome back to the lineup quarterback Luke Fryoux, running back Ryan Bowman, split end Lance Wicker, offensive tackle Brennan West and center Rhett Seguin.
Fryoux passed for 701 yards last year, rushing for 101 more. Bowman and Wicker combined for more than 800 yards total offense last year, production that will be needed with four new offensive starters in 2011.
Defensively, West and Bowman play both ways at defensive tackle and linebacker, respectively. Daniel Basham returns as a starter at defensive tackle and Seth Stevens at defensive back.
Bowman led the Rebels last year with 60 tackles and eight interceptions; Stevens followed-up with 50 tackles and four interceptions. Both players earned All-District honors in 2010.