There are enough changes in District 7-3A to spice an already competitive league. However, some things do remain the same.
University High is riding a 26-game winning streak that includes two LHSAA Division II select championships. Despite graduating a talented senior class from a team considered to be among the best to ever play in Baton Rouge, the Cubs are the favorite to win 7-3A according to a preseason poll of the coaches.
But the race should be a close one. Baker placed second a year ago and returns most of its starters. Madison Prep also returns 15 starters after advancing to the 3A quarterfinals. Parkview Baptist drops back down from Class 4A to provide another top-tier team. West Feliciana is two years removed from winning a 3A title.
“You’ve got to put U-High first because they’ve proven it,” said Baker coach Eric Randall, whose Buffaloes were undefeated in district play last year until a 43-0 loss to the Cubs in Week 10. “Until someone knocks them off the top, they get the nod. I like our chances, but you’ve got to come ready to play.”
In addition to the Cubs and Saints, Parkview Baptist (Division II in 2015) has a recent title. Madison Prep was the 2A runner-up in 2016.
There are three new head coaches. University’s Andy Martin was promoted from defensive coordinator/associate coach to head coach after Chad Mahaffey left to become head coach at Class 5A Walker. Former Christian Life and Louisville quarterback Stefan LeFors returned home to take the Parkview job. Sean Beauchamp, the associate coach at McKinley last season, is the new Glen Oaks coach.
“So far the transition has been pretty seamless,” Martin said of his new role. “It's my 10th year here and a lot of the guys already know my expectations.”
U-High must replace 17 starters, including six players who signed with schools in a Power 5 conference. A seventh, quarterback John Gordon McKernan, is now a preferred walk-on at LSU.
But the Cubs do have Louisiana’s top player in the 2020 recruiting class in defensive lineman Jaquelin Roy, an LSU commitment to lead the way for a group of players looking to step into the spotlight.
“We’ll be young this year, but we’ve gotten to the point in our program where it's next man up,” Martin said. “We tell the next guy, ‘It's your time to perform.’ It's a place we always wanted to get this program to.”
Changing districts is just one of the challenges for Parkview, After years of running a speed option, LeFors’ Eagles are shifting to a spread offense that will feature much more passing.
“We have to be patient as coaches and take our time with what we want to put in,” said LeFors, who previously led Christian Academy of Louisville, Ky., to two Class 2A titles in the past three years.
Parkview quarterback Roman Mula has adjusted to the new system, LeFors said. Tight end/defensive lineman DeSanto Rollins and receiver Chys Rivers also lead PBS.
“He was excited to try something different,” LeFors said of Mula. “What quarterback doesn’t want to throw it around a little bit? He’s got a lot on his plate, but he’s done a good job.”
Mula will only have three season games to acclimate himself before the seven-game district season begins. A ninth team, Collegiate Baton Rouge will not play a district schedule in its first year of varsity play this fall.
“This is one of the toughest districts in the state,” UHS’ Martin said. “You add in Parkview, then there’s Madison Prep with their talent, there’s Baker with one of their best teams in years, there’s West Feliciana, Brusly ... those teams are going to make it a dogfight every week. That’s what makes it exciting.”
Madison Prep also has an LSU commitment in defensive back/receiver Major Burns and another top-15 recruit in Joel Williams. Baker’s Desmond Windon ran for over 1,200 yards last year behind a line led by two-way starter Dillon Cage.
BAKER: Lost in 3A second round, 31-14 to Iota
BRUSLY: Lost in 3A first round, 34-20 to Eunice
GLEN OAKS: none
MADISON PREP: Lost in 3A quarterfinals, 41-12 to Eunice
MENTORSHIP ACADEMY: none
PARKVIEW BAPTIST: Lost in D-II quarterfinals, 14-7 to St. Charles
UNIVERSITY: Won D-II championship, 55-46 over St. Thomas More
WEST FELICIANA: Lost in 3A first round, 28-6 to Church Point
THEY SAID IT
“There won’t be any easy weeks in this district. I knew going in it would be a challenge. One of the parts of this job that was intriguing was the talent and level of play for high school football in this area of the country.”
STEFAN LEFORS, Parkview Baptist coach
BAKER at WEST FELICIANA, Sept. 27: This matchup separated the top two teams behind U-High last year, and highlights the first week of district play.
PARKVIEW BAPTIST at U-HIGH, Oct. 3: Parkview has won its last two games against U-High including a 10-3 win in 2016, U-High’s last regular season loss.
MADISON PREP VS. PARKVIEW BAPTIST, Nov. 1: This game at Louisiana Leadership's Doug Williams Stadium will be part of ESPN's High School Showcase.
U-HIGH at BAKER, Nov. 8: The Cubs ran away with a 43-0 win last year in a week 10 game that decided the district championship.
27 at West Feliciana*
4 Madison Prep*
18 at Parkview Baptist*
25 Glen Oaks*
31 at Mentorship Academy*
6 Port Allen
13 at Alexandria
20 at St. Michael
27 at Madison Prep*
4 West Feliciana*
11 at Baker*
25 Parkview Baptist*
1 at Glen Oaks*
8 Mentorship Academy*
13 at Belaire
20 Thrive Academy
4 at Mentorship Academy*
10 at Madison Prep*
18 at West Feliciana*
25 at Baker*
8 at Parkview Baptist*
6 at Walker
12 at Southern Lab
20 at Istrouma
4 at Baker*
10 Glen Oaks
18 Mentorship Academy*
25 at U-High*
1 Parkview Baptist
8 at West Feliciana*
6 at Central
20 North Central
27 at Parkview Baptist*
4 Glen Oaks*
18 at Madison Prep*
25 at West Feliciana*
8 at Brusly*
5 at Catholic at Memorial
13 Slaughter Community Charter
27 Mentorship Academy*
3 at U-High*
11 West Feliciana*
25 at Brusly*
1 at Madison Prep*
8 Glen Oaks*
6 at John Ehret
13 at Neville
27 at Glen Oaks*
3 Parkview Baptist*
11 at Mentorship Academy*
18 at Brusly*
25 Madison Prep*
1 West Feliciana*
8 at Baker*
6 at East Feliciana
13 at Livonia
20 Live Oak
4 at Brusly*
11 at Parkview Baptist*
18 Glen Oaks*
25 Mentorship Academy*
1 at U-High*
8 Madison Prep*
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
HEAD COACH: Andy Martin
2018 RECORD: 13-0
FAST FACT: The closest game during the Cubs current 26-game winning streak was their 55-46 win over St. Thomas More in the 2018 D-II championship game.
BIGGEST STRENGTH: Line play on both sides of the ball.
BIGGEST NEED: A quarterback to replace the steady presence of three-year starter John Gordon McKernan.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: DL Jaquelin Roy, OL Rashad Green, DB Jardin Gilbert, OL Solomon Miles.
HEAD COACH: Eric Randall
2018 RECORD: 7-5
FAST FACT: Baker’s 18-12 first-round playoff win over Marksville was the Buffaloes first postseason win since 2002.
BIGGEST STRENGTH: With eight starters returning on each side of the ball, the Buffaloes have experience.
BIGGEST NEED: Depth is the biggest concern.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: RB Desmond Windon, OL/DL Dillon Cage, FB/LB Travonte Spears, OL/DL Jalon Gross.
HEAD COACH: Stefan LeFors
2018 RECORD: 5-7
FAST FACT: Parkview, which has won five state titles, last played for a title in 2016 losing in the DII championship to St. Thomas More.
BIGGEST STRENGTH: The Eagles will be more athletic overall than in recent years.
BIGGEST NEED: Line depth on both sides of the ball.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: DL/TE DeSanto Rollins, QB Roman Mula, WR Chy Rivers, LB Harrison Warren.
HEAD COACH: Landry Williams
2018 RECORD: 6-7
FAST FACT: After winning the 2016 2A championship, the Chargers have had two consecutive losing seasons.
BIGGEST STRENGTH: The return of 15 players who started or saw significant playing time last season.
BIGGEST NEED: Staying healthy will be vital with depth a concern.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: DB/DB Major Burns, DB/WR Joel Williams, QB Zeon Chriss, LB Primus Breckinridge
HEAD COACH: Robb Odom
2018 RECORD: 5-6
FAST FACT: The Saints return nine starters, four on offense and five on defense.
BIGGEST STRENGTH: Defenisve backfield, where three starters return.
BIGGEST NEED: Shake off a first-round playoff loss and regain the form that carried the Saints to the 2017 3A championship.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Bennett Clement, LB O’Koryea Anderson, WR Aidan Holland, DE Arin Spears.
HEAD COACH: Hoff Schooler
2018 RECORD: 5-6
FAST FACT: Schooler, who spent 11 years as defensive coordinator at Ruston High, begins his third year at Brusly.
BIGGEST STRENGTH: Stability at quarterback Nick Penell with third-year starter Nick Penell.
BIGGEST NEED: Experience in the defensive back seven where new starters at linebacker and in the secondary step in.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: LB Kyle Parker, QB Nick Penell, DB Sidney Moore.
HEAD COACH: Keith Woods
2018 RECORD: 1-9
FAST FACT: Now beginning their fifth full season of play, the Sharks have only made the playoffs once.
BIGGEST STRENGTH: The Sharks have several big bodies on the offensive line.
BIGGEST NEED: Find a way to build on the program’s first victory, a 22-0 win over Glen Oaks in week 10 of last season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: LB Zyon Mims, WR/DB Da’Shun Hugley.
HEAD COACH: Sean Beauchamp
2018 RECORD: 0-10
FAST FACT: The Glen Oaks program has had three winless seasons in the last five years.
BIGGEST STRENGTH: The Panthers offensive line.
BIGGEST NEED: Touchdowns. The Panthers were shut out five times and scored only 50 points all of last season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Jarrius Snearl, RB Kevin Young, LB Jacquez Jackson.
QB Damion Knighten; RB Desmond Windon*; FB Travonte Spears*; WR Eric Randall III; WR Tamon Dukes*; TE Marteece Covington*; OL Dillon Cage*; OL Savales Smith; OL Thomas Benton*; OL Sedric Shelmire; OL Jalen Gross*.
DL Colby Neff*; DL Dillon Cage*; DL Marteece Covington*; DL Keyshun Chenevert; LB Travonte Spears; LB Tremonte Spears*; LB Kelly Thomas; DB Eric Randall III; DB Djuan Fleming; DB Vontrell Bell*; DB Jeremiah Bell*.
QB Jarrius Snearl, Jr.; RB Kevin Young, Jr.; WR TaVoris Harris, Sr.; WR DeVonte Anthony, Jr.; WR Zantoine McKines, Sr.; WR DaQuan Wells, Sr.; OL Kendrick Joseph, Sr.; OL Marcquinton Bowie, Sr.; OL Abram Halley, Jr.; OL Jakendrick Lowe, Jr.; OL Zyron Scott, Jr.
DL Dylon Gray, So.; DL Jeffrey Stewart, Jr.; DL Jaylon Bridgewater, Jr.; DL Adam Hamilton, Sr.; LB Jacquez Jackson, Jr.; LB Cyncerre Harris, Jr.; LB Malik Haynes, Jr.; DB Robert Cage, Sr.; DB D’Ashton Mackie, Sr.; DB Traekel Joseph, Sr.; DB Dorian Henry, Sr.
QB Zeon Chriss 6-1, 170, So.: RB Myles Poullard 5-11, 185, Jr.; RB Ben Stewart 6-1, 190, Jr.; WR Major Burns 6-2, 185, Sr.; WR Tyrell Raby 6-1, 165, Jr.; WR Maleak Palmer 5-11, 165, Sr.; OL Tim Leonard 6-1, 325, Sr.; OL Alex Atkinson 6-2, 210, Sr.; OL Croy Fickering 6-2, 245, Jr.; OL Geramie Wyre 6-1, 245, Sr.; OL Jaylen McKnight 5-10, 320, Sr.
DL Alex Atkinson 6-2, 210, Sr.; DL Ronald Harris 6-2, 270, So.; DL Kaleb Neal 6-2, 280, Sr.; DL Geramie Wyre, 6-1, 245, Sr.; LB Craig Strong 6-1, 205, Sr.; LB Primus Breckenridge 5-9, 180, Sr.; LB Hakeem King 5-8, 165, Jr.; DB Tyrell Raby 6-1, 165, Jr.; DB Morgan Patton 5-8, 165, Sr.; DB Major Burns 6-2, 185, Sr.: DB Joel Williams 6-1, 195, Sr.
QB Christian Miles 5-11, 175, So.; RB Donovan McCray 5-9, 195, Jr.; RB Jonathan Harris 5-8, 160, So.; WR Ian Bell 5-7, 160, Jr.; WR Da’Shun Hugley 6-0, 175, Sr.; WR Kyly Jones 6-2, 170, So.; OL Kavonne Randolph 6-1, 255, Sr.; OL Keldrick Greensberry 5-9, 240, Sr.; OL Kedrick Simmons 5-10, 245, Sr.; OL Donovan Dorsey 6-1, 305, Jr.; OL Tylan Day 6-4, 280, So.
DL Tyronne Dunn 6-0, 255, Sr.; DL David Duncan 5-10, 240, Sr.; DL Jacoby Durant 6-0, 190, Sr.; LB Michael Ott 6-1, 200, So.; LB Torin Horton 6-0, 205, So.; LB Traylyn Dotson 5-8, 180, Sr.; LB Zyon Mims 5-10, 220, Sr.; DB Shamar Powers 6-0, 180, Sr.; DB Sebastian Malloid 5-8, 165, Sr.; DB Da’Shun Hugley 6-0, 175, Sr.; DB Jonathan Harris 5-8, 170, So.
QB Roman Mula 6-0, 170, Jr.*; RB C.J. Golden 5-10, 170, Sr.; WR Calib Kibodi 6-1, 215, Sr.; WR Chy Rivers 5-9, 170, Sr.; WR Brennan Holt 5-8, 160, Jr.; TE Desanto Rollins 6-4, 287, Sr.*; OL V.J. Ladner 6-0, 235, Jr.; OL Sam Hodges 5-9, 240, Jr.*; OL Josh Chaney 6-3, 230, Jr.; OL Colin Cook 5-10, 250, Sr.; OL Dallas Cobb 6-4, 230, Jr.
DL David Murla 6-0, 200, Jr.; DL Desanto Rollins 6-4, 287, Sr.*; DL Zaius Howard 6-2, 250, Sr.; DL Matthew Shannon 5-11, 205, Sr.*: LB Caleb Kibodi 6-1, 215, Sr.; LB Harrison Warren 5-11, 180, Sr.*; LB Jacob Gilbert 5-9, 190, Sr.*; LB Ian Pourciau 6-2, 200, Jr.*; DB Chy Rivers 5-9, 180, Sr.; DB William Whittington 5-11, 170, Sr.; DB Gabe Mitchell 5-9, 170, So.
QB Tanner Lawson 6-4, 205, Sr.; RB Derrick Graham 5-9, 210, So.; WR Jardin Gilbert 6-1, 170, Jr.; WR Keilin Ross 5-7, 168, Jr.; WR Austin Ausberry 6-0, 193, So.; WR Tyler Macloud 6-0, 193, Jr.; OL Solomon Miles 6-4, 310, Sr.*; OL Rashad Greeen 6-4, 305, Sr.*; OL Tony Olinde 5-10, 210, Sr.; OL Coleman Fox 5-10, 230, Jr.; OL Alex Goldberg 5-11, 220, Jr.
DL Jaquelin Roy 6-4, 300, Sr.*; DL Nick Williams 6-1, 250, So.; DL Chas Bertrand 5-10, 200, Sr.; DL Walton Roberts 6-3, 200, Jr.; LB Cullen Clebert 5-9, 190, Jr.; LB Micah Davey 6-2, 245, Jr.; LB Brock Slaton 5-9, 170, Jr.; DB Jardin Gilbert 6-1, 170, Jr.*; DB Josh Slaughter 5-8, 160, Sr.*; DB Cam Dorsey 5-8, 171, Sr.; DB Trevor Evans 5-9, 160, Jr.
QB Bennett Clement 6-1, 175, Jr.*; RB Malik Jacob 6-2, 225, Sr.; RB Jackson Fazio 6-0, 180, Sr.; RB Aeneus LeMay 5-10, 175, So.; WR Robert Smith 6-1, 180, Sr.*; WR Aiden Holland 5-11, 185, Sr.*; OL Arin Spears 6-3, 190, Sr.; OL Brady Smith 6-4, 370, Sr.; Destin McKeehan 6-0, 190, Jr.; OL Adarius Franklin 5-11, 215, Jr.; OL Andrew McClure 6-2, 190, Jr.*.
DL Arin Spears 6-3, 190, Sr.*; DL Keldrick Camel 5-8, 195, So.; DL B.J. Addison 5-8, 220, Sr.; DL Chrishon Fountain 6-1, 215, Sr.; LB O’Koryea Anderson 6-2, 195, Sr.*; LB Malik Jacob 6-2, 220, Sr.*; DB Jackson Fazio 6-0, 180, Sr.*; DB Robert Smith 6-1, 180, Sr.*; DB Keke Anderson 5-9, 165, Jr.; DB Nyjal Kelly 5-9, 160, Jr.; DB Aeneus LeMay 5-10, 175, So.