There was nothing to suggest any radical changes were coming for Central High’s football program.
By all accounts coach Doug Dotson’s first season was a success: The Wildcats earned a share of the District 5-5A title and finished 7-4 after a first-round exit from the the state playoffs.
However, Dotson had a different vision for his offense going forward and approached offensive coordinator David Simoneaux Jr. about a month later to discuss a makeover.
Dotson and Simoneaux, who both have option-based, veer backgrounds, found that a double-slot option in 2010 was a better fit for Central’s personnel and was also easier for Simoneaux to implement after leaving Parkview Baptist close to the start of spring practice.
What Dotson wanted was a shotgun spread attack that would still feature a physical running game, but would better utilize junior quarterback Brett Courville’s dual-threat capability as well as individual mismatches with up-and-coming skill position players.
The result hasn’t necessarily been a heavy statistical windfall but Central (4-4, 2-1) finds itself in a four-way tie for the District 4-5A lead heading to co-leader Scotlandville (7-1, 2-1) on Friday.
The more diversified approach, though, has helped carry the load in recent weeks.
“I don’t want to throw it all the time or run it all the time,” said Dotson, son of former legendary Acadiana High coach Bill Dotson.
“I want to be able to take advantage of whatever the defense is giving us. We kind of felt boxed in last year by not being able to throw the football. We wanted to be able to throw the ball and throw it efficiently, and I know that we’ve solved that.”
The first order of business for Simoneaux, who as a player and coach was a part of two state championships at Parkview Baptist, was to almost re-invent himself as an offensive coordinator. That meant discarding his mid-line veer, option playbook and thoroughly researching the spread.
Simoneaux visited several state college assistants and a handful of local-area coaches already running the trendy spread offense.
He also acquired game tape of the 2010 seasons for Oregon and Auburn — a pair of high-scoring spread teams.
“I tried to learn as much as I could possibly good,” Simoneaux said. “I tried to take bits and pieces out of what I liked out of all that and put it into our own deal.”
Dotson noticed Simoneaux’s efforts to absorb as much of the offense as he could before unveiling it in the spring.
“I challenged David as a coach,” Dotson said. “He accepted it, and he’s a spread expert. In one year, you wouldn’t know this is his first year running it.”
Central averages 30.1 points per game, just three points less than last season, but the Wildcats are averaging 312 yards a game, nearly 100 more than last season.
Courville has accounted for 1,423 total yards and 18 touchdowns. The junior has completed 76 of 149 passes for 981 yards. He has carried 142 times for a team-best 442 yards and five TDs. Senior running back Zach Evans has 78 carries for 435 yards and five touchdowns.
The Wildcats, who returned only senior right guard Alex Frank to the offensive line, have also relied on the big-play ability of slot receivers Gary Triplett and Deon Gales to truly stretch defenses.
Triplett is the team’s top target with 27 catches for 341 yards and three TDs, while Gales has 19 catches for 246 yards and two TDs. Triplett has also given his team a dynamic weapon on special teams with averages of 30.3 yards on kickoffs and 22.9 on punts, where he’s added two TDs.
“It’s a style and what fits that,” Dotson said. “We just felt like this fit us better and in the long run you’ll see this is our style.”