It’ll be another month before the East Ascension High School football players put on a set of pads, but that doesn’t mean the Spartans are spending their summer on the couch.
Because of LHSA regulations, high school football teams are not allowed to participate in padded drills for another month.
Spartans coach Paul Bourgeois is entering his fourth season at the helm of the Spartans, and with only seven returning starters on either side of the ball to follow up an impressive 8-2 2013 season, Bourgeois has his hands full getting his team ready for Plaquemine High School in a little more than month.
That’s why East Ascension players are spending their summer days amid the clamor of the musky field house weight room and under the blazing Louisiana sun.
“This is the time where if the kids are going to grow, if they’re going to get faster, if they’re going to get stronger, this is it,” Bourgeois said. “We just feel at this time of the year that coming in, getting your (workout) done and leaving is important. The mental part we have plenty of time for.”
East Ascension offensive coordinator and strength and condition coach Keragan McCready is the man responsible for the creating the Spartans’ off season — as well as in-season — workout program.
McCready — who was ushered into the position along with the implementation of the Bourgeois era at East Ascension — said the main focus of the summer program is on endurance lifts, which plays into the fact that the Spartans continue to be one of the smaller teams in the area despite a slight upgrade in size for the 2014 season.
“Where we are compared to some of the other teams in our district, we have to stay in the weight room,” McCready said. “We have some size this year across offensive line, but still, when you compare us size-wise to (the other teams in our district), we’re going to be smaller than them on average.”
Expectations are running high going into this season, particularly for the Spartans’ high-powered spread offense, but Bourgeois said he and his coaching staff are trying to manage those expectations with the reality that there are a lot of holes to fill before the season starts.
Junior quarterback Kyran Irvin has one of the biggest sets of shoes to fill this season after taking over for Layne Trahan under center, but said he’s confident in his ability to lead the offense.
“I just have a lot of stuff I have to step up on and keep my confidence and stay positive — no negative mistakes,” Irvin said.
McCready said one of the main advantages to having the more mobile Irvin at quarterback is the Spartans can open up the running game more with the zone-read option.
“I think you’re going to see a pretty big change in our offense this year,” McCready said. “The last three years we had a quarterback that (wasn’t very mobile). This year we’ve got a quarterback with a lot more raw athletic ability. He’s not quite where he needs to be with his understanding of the game right now, but he makes up for that with his athletic ability.”
Bourgeois said the strength of the team will come from the offensive line with three of the team’s seven returning starters coming from the trenches and the other two expected starters having received plenty of experience last season.
“There’s no doubt we’re way behind offensively compared to where we were,” Bourgeois said. “We’ve got a new quarterback, new receivers, new offensive line, but really our strong point would probably be the offensive line where we do have some returning.”