District 8-4A New Orleans-area high school football preview: Rising Franklinton stays focused on big picture _lowres

Advocate staff photo by HILARY SCHEINUK -- Lutcher's Rashaun Preston makes a one-handed catch as Franklinton's Azende Magee provides coverage

FRANKLINTON — Before he saw his team in full pads, longtime Franklinton coach Shane Smith had a simple question for his 2015 squad: “What do you have to do to play for 15 weeks?”

In Washington Parish, a successful season is measured not by district crowns or individual awards but by how deep your playoff run was and whether you came home with a title.

Last season, the Demons fell a game short of the Class 4A title game, losing to eventual champion Neville 32-8.

“Our kids are aware of how high the expectation level is heading into this season,” Smith said. “I know for sure our seniors are. They know how much hard work is going to have to be put in for us to be successful. The bar was set back at 2010 at Franklinton High School when we won the 4A title. The last two years, we have gotten as far as the quarterfinals and last year the semifinals. We are working hard to take that next step.”

The loss to Neville is still a talking point among players and coaches.

“We were devastated last year after how our season ended,” Smith said. “When you get a game away from the Superdome and that dream is cut short, it is difficult to deal with. Add to that the fact we know we didn’t play our best.”

To take that next step, the Demons are going to rely on a young quarterback with a famous last name.

Sophomore Tahj Magee takes over under center. The brother of former Franklinton QB and LSU running back Terrence Magee (now with the Baltimore Ravens), Tahj will provide the Demons with much of the same type of offensive threats his brother did.

“Through the course of last year, Tahj’s athleticism began to come to the forefront and drew the attention of the coaching staff,” Smith said. “He had the ability to make the same throws that Michael Wilson made last year but also had the ability to make plays with his feet.”

While there is young talent under center, the leaders of the offense are in the backfield. Senior running backs Azende Magee and Renaz Wilson return after impressive junior campaigns that saw them combine to rush for more than 2,000 yards and 32 touchdowns.

“You are talking about two of the most unselfish football players you will ever meet,” Smith said of his running back duo. “They will do whatever it takes for our team to be successful. The great thing about having two outstanding running backs is it will make Tahj’s job a lot easier, specifically early in the season.”

Defensively, the Demons have plenty of holes to fill, but three-year returning starter Martavius James returns in the secondary and will be looked upon to lead a young but talented defense.

“We lost some starters, yes,” Smith said. “But we have a senior-laden defense which has a tremendous amount of experience, especially at the second and third levels. They are athletic and are extremely competitive in addition to being one of the fastest defenses in school history.

“When we won the state championship in 2010, people said our secondary was a weakness. Now it is one of our strengths, led by Martavius, and I see no reason not to believe it will be a strength for us again this year.”

TEAM CAPSULES

Franklinton Demons

Coach: Shane Smith (132-58)

2014: 12-2, 5-0

Last playoff appearance: 2014 (lost to Neville in state semifinals)

Looking back: Losses in the semifinals a year ago and the quarterfinals a year before have the Demons itching for the next step: the Superdome.

Moving forward: With Terrence Magee’s baby brother at quarterback and two outstanding tailbacks back, Franklinton is one of the preseason favorites in Class 4A.

Ask The Advocate: If QB Tahj Magee can mature quickly, expect to see Franklinton playing for the 4A title, perhaps in a rematch against defending state champion Neville.

Projected starters on offense: LT Deante Cotton (6-0, 275, Sr.), LG Aaron Bennett (5-10, 240, Jr.), C Zach Ginn (5-10, 230, Sr.), RG Tyler Leblanc (5-10, 225, Sr.), RT Adam Bush (6-2, 240, Jr.), TE Ryche Jenkins (6-0, 220, Sr.), RB Azende Magee (5-8, 160, Sr.), RB Renaz Wilson (5-10, 205, Sr.), QB Tahj Magee (6-0, 170, So.).

Projected starters on defense: DE Damien Dawson (5-11, 200, Sr.), NG Shaq Burkhalter (5-10, 235, So.), DE Casey Riley (5-10, 205, Sr.), LB Kobe Crain (6-0, 180, Sr.), LB Relik Wilson (5-10, 215, Sr.), LB Renaz Wilson (5-10, 205, Sr.), LB Chandler Scott (5-11, 185, Jr.), CB Jamarian Crain (5-6, 160, Jr.), CB Tremario Magee (5-10, 150 Sr.), FS Marcus Conerly (5-10, 155, Jr.), SS Martavious James (6-0, 175, Sr.).

Schedule

Sept. 4 at Covington

Sept. 11 Amite

Sept. 18 Bogalusa

Sept. 25 at West Monroe

Oct. 2 at Church Point

Oct. 9 Salmen#

Oct. 16 at Loranger#

Oct. 22 Lakeshore#

Oct. 30 Jesuit

Nov. 6 at Pearl River#

Lakeshore Titans

Coach: Craig Jones (9-13)

2014: 4-7, 2-3

Last playoff appearance: 2014 (lost to South Terrebonne in bidistrict round)

Looking back: Gone is the school’s most heralded player — David Ducre is now at LSU — and the power rushing attack.

Moving forward: A new spread offense with a new coordinator will bring some excitement for Lakeshore fans.

Ask The Advocate: The leading receiver from a year ago, senior Nathan Facaine, takes over under center. The Titans will go as far as he takes them.

Projected starters on offense: LT Collin Martin (6-0, 245, Sr.), LG Collin Pigrenet (6-0, 275, So.), C Dane Ziegler (5-9, 250, Jr.), RG Thomas Schenck (6-4, 295, Sr.), RT Max Yelvington (5-8, 240, So.), WR Adam Ybarzabal (5-10, 165, Sr.), WR Cole Smiroldo (5-6, 140, Jr.), WR Des’mon Labostrie (5-7, 150, So.), WR Kentrell Johnson (5-11, 170, Jr.), RB Randy Raymond (6-0, 200, Jr.), QB Nathan Faciane (5-9, 150, Sr.).

Projected starters on defense: LE Jason Wahlen (6-1, 205, Sr.), NG Kavondre Williams (6-0, 270, Sr.), DT Luke Tullier (6-2, 250, Jr.), RE Tylan Driver, (6-1, 265, So.), LB Jalen Willis (6-1, 150, So.), LB Dallas Matamoros (5-11, 205, Sr.), LB Tyler Vinet (6-0, 195, Sr.), CB Cordie Bennett (6-2, 195, Sr.), CB Cody Doucette (5-7, 145, Sr.), CB Michael Gautier (5-7, 155, So.), FS Garrett Scalia (5-9, 170, Sr.), SS Connor Orvin (5-10, 180, Sr.).

Schedule

Sept. 4 Fontainebleau

Sept. 11 at E.D. White

Sept. 18 at Northshore

Sept. 25 at Assumption

Oct. 1 Jewel Sumner

Oct. 9 Loranger#

Oct. 16 Terrebonne

Oct. 22 at Franklinton#

Oct. 30 Pearl River#

Nov. 6 at Salmen#

Loranger Wolves

Coach: Sammy Messina (60-50)

2014: 7-5, 4-1

Last playoff appearance: 2014 (lost to Patterson in Class 3A regional round)

Looking back: The Wolves wrapped up another successful season in Class 3A.

Moving forward: Stepping up in class to 4A, how will the Wolves react?

Ask The Advocate: The Wolves could make things interesting and provide a challenge to favorite Franklinton.

Projected starters on offense: LT Kayle Joiner (Sr.), LG Ben Rainey (Sr.), C Wade Baham (Jr.), RG Tanner Armstrong (So.), RT Kevin Crowe (Sr.), WR Travis Lamb (Jr.,), WR Jabari Coston (Jr.), RB Davonte Green (Sr.), RB Deandre Brown (Jr.), RB Michael Bonds (Sr.), QB Evan Johnson (Jr.), PK Carson Reed (Jr.).

Projected starters on defense: DE Ethan Wallace (Sr.), DE Malcoolm Perry (Jr.), NG Lionell Scott (Sr.), LB Carter Leblanc (Sr.), LB Josh Devon (So.), LB Zac Anthony (Sr.), LB David Lewis (Jr.), CB Jaquan Thomas (Jr.), CB Reggie Matthews (Jr.), FS D.J. Hookfin (So.), SS Deandre Brown (Jr.), P Luke Colona (So.).

Schedule

Sept. 4 at Kentwood

Sept. 11 St. Michael

Sept. 18 at Ponchatoula

Sept. 25 Amite

Oct. 2 at Bogalusa

Oct. 9 at Lakeshore#

Oct. 16 Franklinton#

Oct. 23 at Pearl River#

Oct. 30 Salmen#

Nov. 6 Riverdale

Pearl River Rebels

Coach: Mike LaBourdette (first season)

2014: 0-10, 0-5

Last playoff appearance: 2009 (lost to Salmen in bidistrict round)

Looking back: With two wins in the past two seasons and coming off a winless 2014, things can only get better for the Rebels.

Moving forward: Multiple returning starters at key positions will help the transition with a new coach.

Ask The Advocate: LaBourdette looks to breathe life into a program that has struggled to remain competitive. It’s going to take time, but all signs point to it already starting to happen.

Projected starters on offense: LT Daulten Hoover (6-5, 300, Jr.), LG Trevor Fairchild (6-2, 275, Jr.), C Joe Olenforst (6-2, 280, Jr.), RG Nick Howell (5-10, 280, Jr.), RT Darrious Revolta (6-1, 190, Sr.) TE Al Dauth (6-3, 200, Jr.), WR Kenny Stewart (6-1, 200, Sr.), QB Ethan Markenson (5-10, 165, So.), RB Jace Littleton (5-8, 175, Sr.), RB Ladarius Wilford (5-10, 190, Sr.), RB Matthew Ellencon (5-10, 165, So.).

Projected starters on defense: DE Zack Follette (6-1, 185, So.), DT Corey Soveal (6-0, 200, So.), DT Darrious Revolta (6-1, 190, Sr.), DE Rudy Crawford (6-0, 185, Jr.), LB Brett Stewart (5-11, 200, Jr.), LB Zack Wallace (5-10, 175, So.), LB Chase Cheramie (5-11, 190, Sr.), CB Zeke Marchneze (5-8, 160, So.), CB John Cook Movland (5-8, 170, Sr.), FS Jacob Guzdemine (5-9, 160, Jr.), SS Cameron Hut (5-8, 160, Jr.).

Schedule

Sept. 4 Pine

Sept. 11 Sci Academy

Sept. 18 at Pine Prairie

Sept. 25 Fisher

Oct. 1 Haynes Academy

Oct. 8 Ben Franklin

Oct. 16 at Salmen#

Oct. 23 Loranger#

Oct. 30 at Lakeshore#

Nov. 6 Franklinton#

Salmen Spartans

Coach: Gerald Leonard (87-58)

2014: 2-8, 2-3

Last playoff appearance: 2013 (lost to Karr in bidistrict round)

Looking back: A disastrous season for the Spartans in 2014 saw them only win twice.

Moving forward: Things could get tougher with underclassmen being expected to contribute at multiple positions.

Ask The Advocate: WR Robert Hayes Jr. is one of the district’s top playmakers, but who is going to join him in the offense? If the answer is no one, it could be a long season.

Projected starters on offense: LT Patrick Price (5-11, 245, Sr.), LG Matthew Alsina (6-1, 180, Sr.), C Alex Hughes (Sr., 6-2, 250), RG Markus McDaniel Jr. (6-0, 240, Sr.), RT Dylan Sevin (6-3, 265, Sr.), RB Wallace Duplessis (5-6, 180, Sr.), QB LJ Leonard (6-2, 165, So.), WR Robert Hayes Jr. (6-0, 180, Sr.), WR James Austin (6-3, 180, Sr.), WR Juan Jurado (6-4, 185, Sr.), WR Brayden Gabel (5-7, 155, So.).

Projected starters on defense: DE R’quan LeBlanc (6-0, 240, Sr.), DE Austin Pohlmann (5-9, 215, Sr.), NG Markus McDaniel Jr. (6-0, 240, Sr.), LB Jeremy Hudson (6-1, 215, So.), LB Jalil Robinson (5-10, 215, Jr.), LB Dylan Cross (5-10, 195, Sr.), DB Robert Hayes Jr. (6-0, 185, Sr.), DB De’shaun Short (5-11, 170, Jr.), DB Grid Isidore (6-0, 160, Jr.), DB Garen Tinson (6-0, 160, Sr.).

Schedule

Sept. 5 at East Jefferson

Sept. 11 Northshore

Sept. 18 Covington

Sept. 25 at Bogalusa

Oct. 2 TBA

Oct. 9 at Franklinton#

Oct. 16 Pearl River#

Oct. 23 Jewel Sumner

Oct. 30 at Loranger#

Nov. 6 Lakeshore#

# — district game