ARNAUDVILLE — The Beau Chene Gators are off to their best start in 15 years.
Beau Chene enters Friday’s District 4-4A opener at St. Thomas More with a 4-1 record and is currently No. 19 in the latest Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s power rankings for Class 4A. That nearly matches the program’s best start, 5-0 in 2000.
That means the Gators have positioned themselves to earn a postseason berth for the first time since 2007, when the team fell to Teurlings Catholic in the opening round.
“Coming into this year we expected to be 5-0 at this point,” third-year Beau Chene coach Josh Guidry said. “Now, we are sitting at 4-1, and I think we are still in a good spot. If we pick up another game or two along the way, then we will be back in the playoffs for the first time in a long time.”
“It feels great because when coach first got here everyone was saying how terrible we were going to be,” junior linebacker Charles Williams said. “To show them that we are actually winning feels good.”
Beau Chene’s start to this season, though it’s not how Guidry and his coaching staff imagined it.
With North Central quarterback Dre Duplechain transferring in, Beau Chene was going to move last year’s 700-yard rusher, senior Savion Broussard, to wingback in the team’s new triple-option offense.
That triple-option attack never took shape though.
First, Duplechain was ruled ineligible to play this season by the St. Landry Parish superintendent, and then Broussard, who was already recovering from a hamstring tear, experienced a slew of injuries including partially tear his MCL and then suffering a high ankle sprain.
That forced Guidry to put in junior Deandre Eaglin to lead the offense in the opener but he got hurt on the seventh offensive play. Eaglin would be sidelined the first three weeks of the season, leaving Beau Chene extremely limited on offense.
“I know everybody has injuries and everything, but when we look at our roster we are always short on numbers,” Guidry said. “We always say we are one injury away from the season being over.”
In addition to those injuries, Beau Chene has dealt with the absence of a few key players from last year’s 3-7 team. Middle linebacker Payton Mallet, safety Tevin Collins and fullback-linebacker Curtis Chavis, all transferred over the summer, including Chavis who went to parish rival Port Barre.
Not to mention, college prospect place-kicker Cole Cormier who will miss the entire season because of an illness.
Despite all those obstacles how has the team succeeded?
“I think it has more to do with mental toughness,” junior defensive end Konnor Darbonne said. “You have to overcome all the injuries. We just have to keep coming together as a team.”
“Everybody has pain out there,” said Eaglin, who has accounted for more than 400 yards rushing and five scores in the past two games. “When I see them in pain, I just try to lift them up and when I am in pain, I just keep myself up. I am just playing through it.”
After the team’s 27-13 loss to rival Port Barre, Guidry reached out to get some advice on how to improve the offense from Notre Dame coach Lewis Cook. The Gators have since implemented more of an I-formation offense with some shotgun sprinkled in.
While the offense has been tweaked to combat the slew of injuries, the Gators defense has been extremely productive. After running a 4-2-5 base defense last year, Guidry and his staff switched back to a 4-3, and it has paid off.
Beau Chene is giving up only 10.6 points per game, has held opponents to 10 or less points three times and has double-digit totals in interceptions (11), pass breakups (26), sacks (12) and tackles for a loss (18).
“We are going to stick to our base defense as much a possible,” Guidry said. “By doing that, it has allowed these kids to know their jobs more and has allowed them to get to the ball as fast as they can.”
The next two weeks Guidry and his players will be going up against perennial powers St. Thomas More (No. 2 in power rankings) and Teurlings Catholic (No. 13). But that hasn’t altered the Gators’ mindset.
“At the end of the day we know who we are going to face,” Guidry said. “That said we are not going to walk in there with our tails tucked and say ‘Guys here is the game. You beat the heck out of us.’ We are going to play and coach to win those games.”
Added sophomore running back Jylon Henry, “We are just ready to work.”