What’s the significance of a football jamboree? That probably depends on who you ask.
Dutchtown High School coach Benny Saia and Donaldsonville coach Benny Guilbeaux don’t see jamborees as a way to display dominance. However, the two Ascension Parish coaches have special goals as the their teams host Thursday jamborees.
For Saia, it’s all about making a progression. Guilbeaux is seeking the right combinations.
“Last week in our scrimmage (against H.L. Bourgeois) we made a ton of mistakes,” Saia said. “We had penalties, and we had turnovers. We missed assignments.
“When I look at our offensive starters, I only see one lineman who played in a varsity game last year. These guys have to grow up and learn. As long as we’re giving the maximum effort and the show improvement, that’s plenty. The best we can hope for is to get better every week.”
Dutchtown hosts Walker for its portion of the LeBlancs Jamboree. Action begins at 6 p.m. with freshman and junior varsity teams taking their turns first, each playing two 10-minute halves. The Griffins and the Walker varsity are scheduled to play two 12-minute halves.
Donaldsonville hosts longtime rival St. James for a portion of the River Parish Jamboree. The teams will play with junior varsity and varsity contests at Donaldsonville’s Boutte Stadium at 6 p.m. A third jamboree, the Port Allen Jamboree matches PAHS against Albany for junior varsity and varsity contests, also is set for 6 p.m.
“I talked to Dwain (Jenkins, St. James coach) and we felt like this will be a great thing for both teams and the communities,” Guilbeaux said. “The kids all know each other and some of them are related. The schools used to be in the same district together.
“We feel like we can give each other a good test. Hopefully we’ll be able to schedule each other again starting next year. We believe this is the start of something good.”
Guilbeaux said junior varsity teams will play two 12-minute halves, while the varsity teams will play two 15-minute halves. The Donaldsonville jamboree will offer a contrast to the one at Dutchtown.
Dutchtown has its share of star players, led by safeties Justin Reed and Alonzo Craighton. Running back Kajuan Coleman and quarterback Brandt Fritsche lead the offense that will be part of the mix as Saia looks for improvement among the lineman and other first-year starters.
Donaldsonville’s goals will be different. Standout receiver Jaquel Gant will miss the jamboree with a hamstring injury but is expected to play next week. Guilbeaux sees Gant’s absence as a chance to see what other playmakers can do.
In last week’s scrimmage against East St. John. Six-foot-6 receiver Stephen Sullivan took some snaps at quarterback, along with starting QB Tyler Brown.
“We’re going to try and put guys into positions where they can make plays,” Guilbeaux said. “We’ll try some different things that we hope will give us a chance to see what works and what won’t.
“You never know what we might see. It’s all about the possibilities.”