East Iberville football coach Kelcy Dotson wants his team to show more excitement.
When it comes to football, winning and enthusiasm have been in short supply for the Tigers in the ultra-competitive District 9-1A, which includes defending state champion White Castle and perennial powerhouses like West St. John and St. John of Plaquemine.
But after a winless season in 2010, the Tigers are off to the best start in school history with a 3-0 record in 2011.
The need for ardor now stems from different circumstances.
Dotson said his players have plenty of reasons to be excited. The Tigers are the only undefeated team in their district with league play still two weeks away. He just wishes they would welcome the prosperity a little more.
“As a coach, I’m not the type to be real excited until I get this team to the playoffs, but knowing we were 0-10 last year, I would like to see a little more excitement on their part about being 3-0,” he said.
Now in his third year as head coach, Dotson said shedding the program’s “losing identity” has been his most difficult challenge.
He combed through the weight room daily in the spring, looking to add anyone who wanted to play to the roster.
He added five players from the state quarterfinal basketball team, including senior receiver and cornerback Richard Johnson, to bring the total number of players to 30.
Dotson said depth is critical in changing the fortunes of a small program, but in the end, results make the most impact.
“Culture changes with a combination of discipline and winning,” Dotson said. “You can have all the discipline in the world, but if you’re not winning, the kids are not going to buy in.”
The biggest contributions on the field have come from senior Nicholas Brooks, a running back converted to quarterback, who has thrown for at least one touchdown in each of the Tigers’ wins.
Brooks also moved from safety to insider linebacker where he anchors a defense that has allowed just more than 14 points per game.
“He’s our workhorse,” Dotson said.
“He’ll make plays anywhere you put him. When he touches the ball, guys have confidence in him that he’s going to score or that he’s going to make something happen.”
Dotson said his team “can be pretty good” if it cleans up defensive mistakes and executes better offensively in the passing game. The Tigers will see how much they’ve improved Friday when they host St. Helena Central from District 8-2A.
Until then, Dotson considers the season a work in progress.
“The real test that will show if we’ve really come together is when we get down and things are not going well for us,” Dotson said. “The guys have to overcome the mental expectations and have to expect to win and believe they can win.”