Justin Charles

New Louisiana College football coach Justin Charles

Louisiana College will be looking to build on a record-setting performance that it used to close out the 2018 season.

The Wildcats of Division III exploded for a school-record 750 yards of offense in a 45-13 win over Howard Payne. The win helped Louisiana College, in its third season under coach Justin Charles, finish the season with a 5-5 record. It was the Wildcats' best record since going 6-4 in 2014.

Then there was the Wildcats' 5-4 mark in the American Southwest Conference. It was good enough for a fifth-place finish, Louisiana College's best showing since 2014, when a 4-1 record brought them a second-place finish.

If Louisiana College hopes to equal or better last season’s records, it will again need to navigate a treacherous conference schedule that includes reigning Division III national champion Mary Hardin-Baylor and Hardin-Simmons, ranked No. 9 in the D3football preseason poll.

There won’t be a lack of experience at quarterback, a position that became a positive for Louisiana College after an early-season injury. Skyler Bonneau started the first three games of 2018 and returns for his senior season.

After Bonneau went down with an injury, junior Mason Jordan stepped in to the starting role for the remainder of the season. In seven games, Jordan threw for 1,936 yards (276.6 yards per game), 18 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

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Jordan’s first start of the season came in the fourth game against Sul Ross State. He completed 19 of 32 passes for 272 yards and three touchdowns and was named the ASC offensive player of the week. Later in the season, he threw for 410 yards and five touchdowns in a 41-36 loss to Texas Lutheran, and 408 yards and four touchdowns in a 48-27 loss to East Texas Baptist.

Junior running back Melvin Young III is the top returning running back. He carried 73 times for 168 yards and two touchdowns.

At receiver, the Wildcats need to replace the production of all-ASC performer Drake Battaglia. He caught 51 passes for 859 yards and nine TDs. The most likely candidate is senior JoJo Robinson, who had 34 receptions for 590 yards and six touchdowns a year ago.

On defense, the linebacking corps welcomes back one of its leaders in junior Julius Johnson, who was second on the team with 86 tackles. He also had 5½ tackles for loss, and was named second-team all-ASC.

Sophomore lineman Terrance Garnett made in impact while playing in only eight games. He had 49 tackles overall and led the Wildcats with 8½ tackles for loss and 5½ sacks. The sack total was the fifth-best in the ASC, and helped Garnett earn honorable-mention all-ASC.