Editor's note: This is the 19th in a 30-day series highlighting high school football teams in the Acadiana area. Up next are the Opelousas Catholic Vikings.
WHAT WE KNOW
A 7-3 overall record, a District 5-1A championship and a trip to the Division IV quarterfinals represented a successful 2018 season for the Vikings under coach Thomas David.
That district has a new look this season with the usual shifts that happen every two years. OC is joined this year by Catholic-Pointe Coupee, St. Edmund, North Central, Sacred Heart and Westminster.
The Vikings are returning seven starters to its pass-heavy spread offense. Those returners all are juniors and seniors and include some exciting athletes.
Junior Keon Coleman, a two-sport star who is already generating interest in basketball recruiting circles, is a tall, rangy receiver who David “expects to start generating more interest in football this season” and “looks the part” for the position.
Fellow receiver Ronal Patin, a shifty, fast-twitch athlete who just started playing organized football last season, is emerging from a raw product to a more refined football player.
Having high-level targets like those should make the job for senior quarterback Jesse Roy easier, as the Vikings continue to build on the high-octane foundation David has laid.
Additionally, the front six of Opelousas Catholic’s defense returns the majority of its starters and should help the defense grow up in the early going. The defensive line returners include all-state honorable mention player Donovan Green and classmate Xavier Jackson.
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW
OC is having to replace the back end of its 4-2-5 defense. With no returning starters in the secondary, the Vikings will rely on experience in the heart of the defense, including senior linebackers Ethan Fourrier and Jack Sebastien.
Still, having athletes like Patin and Coleman should give the Vikings the opportunity to be very good in the secondary, despite the relative inexperience.
Among the bigger losses in the secondary is a pair of all-district first-teamers, Devin Thierry and Cameron Lee. Thierry was also an all-state honorable mention.
HOW WE SEE IT
Opelousas Catholic is going to have its usual explosive offense and should be the favorite to defend its District 5-1A title. Can the Vikings build upon their 2018 quarterfinal appearance and reach the semifinals, like the school's baseball and basketball teams did in 2019? That's a better question.
Catholic-Pointe Coupee, which the Vikings beat 12-0 in the regular-season finale last year to clinch the league championship, is the most obvious challenger for the district championship. But the addition of St. Edmund, which went 9-1 during the 2018 regular season but replaced its head coach in the offseason, should make the league race more interesting.
There are tough matchups throughout OC's schedule including nondistrict games with crosstown foe Opelousas, Vermilion Catholic and perennial Class 2A power Kinder. Even if OC runs the table in district play, its overall record may look worse on paper.
The Vikings, however, do a play a full slate of games this year. Because district foe False River dropped varsity football last year and OC had another open date already scheduled, the Vikings played only eight regular season contests in 2018. So the additional games should help the Vikings' power ranking come playoff time, at least.
Two-time defending Division IV champion Lafayette Christian, which eliminated OC in the second round last year, moves up in class, but the bracket doesn't necessarily get any easier. Division III semifinalist Country Day, which features Tulane quarterback commitment Justin Ibieta, has moved down to Class 1A. Vermilion Catholic, Southern Lab and Ascension Catholic are among the other state contenders.
Sept. 13: at Vermilion Catholic
Vermilion Catholic has reached the Division IV semifinals two years in a row and, over the past half decade, has been one of the most prolific offenses throughout Acadiana. The Sept. 13 road trip should, if nothing else, provide a fun early-season matchup for fans in the area to enjoy.
It doesn’t hurt that OC will be looking to avenge last season’s 26-23 road loss to the Screamin' Eagles, a game decided on a field goal as time expired. VC returns 15 starters from last year, including junior quarterback Drew Lege. The Eagles' 6-foot-2 passer threw for 3,177 yards and 27 touchdowns as a sophomore.
Thomas David’s coaching staff has a wealth of experience, including former McNeese State coach Tommy Tate serving as his defensive coordinator. David describes his staff as “some guys having more experience than coaches having years in their lives."
Tate, who enters his seventh season as the Vikings' defensive coordinator, spent 27 years at McNeese, six of them as the Cowboys head coach. While Tate was in charge, McNeese won the Southland Conference three times and finished as Division I-AA runner-up in 2002. Tate also serves as OC’s athletic director.
WR/DB Ronal Patin, 5-10, 165, Sr.
Patin is in only his second year playing organized football. However, David is excited about his “twitchy” wideout who, as is common on the Class 1A level, will be asked to play on both sides of the ball. The continued development of his football IQ should help Patin emerge as the year goes on.
WR/DB Keon Coleman, 6-3, 185, Jr.
The first name out of David’s mouth, Coleman is a true two-way dynamo for the Vikings. He’s a fast-riser in recruiting circles and still has two seasons in football and basketball to make a name for himself. But he has already generated offers from Coastal Carolina, Nicholls State and McNeese and is generating interest from other in-state schools in basketball. In football, he has received looks from several in-state schools as well. A strong two years could see Coleman accomplish big things in the future.
QB Jesse Roy, 5-10, 165, Sr.
The senior is a highly intelligent quarterback who understands the ins-and-outs of the spread system the Vikings use. David expects him to continue to develop as a passer this season. Roy's job should be made easier by having a pair of athletic targets in Patin and Coleman.
RB/LB Ethan Fourrier, 5-9, 185, Sr.
A third-year starter in the heart of OC’s defense, Fourrier and fellow starting linebacker Jack Sebastien will be at the core of everything the Vikings do in their 4-2-5 scheme. As the secondary emerges, Fourrier will be asked to make plays and guide them along. Fourrier made the all-district second team a year ago.
OT/DT Xavier Jackson, 6-0, 250, Sr.
Strong and agile, Jackson is another multi-year starter. He, alongside fellow senior Donovan Green, will be crucial as they will help anchor both lines for the Vikings. As a junior, Jackson made the all-district first team as an offensive linemen.
Head coach: Thomas David
13 Vermilion Catholic
20 Port Barre
4 Port Allen
11 ST. EDMUND*
18 Catholic P.C*
25 NORTH CENTRAL*
7 SACRED HEART*
8 WESTMINSTER CHRISTIAN*
*--denotes district game
HOME GAMES ALL CAPS
Lost NORTHWEST 32-22
Lost Vermilion Catholic 26-23
Beat PORT BARRE 18-13
Beat NORTH CENTRAL 62-0
Beat Sacred Heart 32-0
Beat Westminster Christian 56-0
Beat SLAUGHTER COMMUNITY CHARTER 55-6
Beat CATHOLIC-PC 12-0
Beat COVENANT CHRISTIAN 35-18
Lost Lafayette Christian 56-14
LAST FIVE SEASONS
Key losses: DE James Monroe, TE Adam Purser, WR Devin Thierry, CB Zach Mengarelli, DB Cameron Lee, LB Matt Courville
Base offense: Spread
Base defense: 4-2-5
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
WR Keon Coleman (6-3, 185, Jr.)*
WR Ronal Patin (5-10, 165, Sr.)*
WR Adam Dupre (6-3, 165, Sr.)
LT Xavier Jackson (6-0, 250, Sr.)*
LG Brandon David (5-10, 275, Jr.)
C John Paul Braham (5-10, 195, Jr.)
RG Trey Carrier (5-10, 275, Jr.)*
RT Donovan Green (6-0, 250, Sr.)*
QB Jesse Roy (5-10, 165, Sr.)*
RB Jack Sebastien (5-8, 165, Sr.)
RB Ethan Fourrier (5-9, 185, Sr.)
DE Donovan Green (6-0, 250, Sr.)*
DT Xavier Jackson (6-0, 250, Sr.)*
DT Nick Dupre (6-0, 210, Jr.)
DE Andre Duplechain (6-2, 215, Sr.)
LB Jack Sebastien (5-8, 165, Sr.)*
LB Ethan Fourrier (5-9, 185, Sr.)*
CB Keon Coleman (6-3, 185, Jr.)
CB Ronal Patin (5-10, 165, Sr.)
SS Ethan Stelly (5-10, 165, Jr.)
SS Jacob Bellard (5-9, 170, Sr.)
FS Drew Sebastien (5-11, 160, Jr.)
*--denotes returning starter