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Benny Saia coaches against Port Allen during 2016 jamboree action as the head coach at Dutchtown High. After two years out of coaching, Saia is now head coach at Ascension Catholic.

After a long career in the Class 5A football ranks, the logical question is this — what is Benny Saia doing at Class 1A Ascension Catholic?

The answer — loving every minute.

“I am having a great time,” Saia said. “There is a familiar feel to it. And there is work to do. We didn’t have a spring practice because the baseball team made it to the LHSAA tournament, which is part being at a 1A school. We’ve been going over a lot of basics and the kids have been great.”

Saia was Dutchtown’s first football coach and compiled a 110-55 record in 15 seasons, coaching future NFL players Landon Collins, Eric Reid, Eddie Lacy and Justin Reid along the way. The list of other Class 5A/4A schools Saia has coached at includes Tara, Thibodaux and Woodlawn. He did not coach in 2017 or 2018.

The 60-year-old Saia, a former Tara High player, started his career as an assistant Class 1A St. Edmund and also worked as a head coach at Catholic-Pointe Coupee.

“I always enjoyed the experience in a Catholic school setting,” Saia said. “There is something special about coaching at a 1A school. At Dutchtown, we had 120 kids every year and I got to know their names, but I didn’t know all of them on a personal level.

“When your team has 30 players you get know significant things about each player as a person. It is a different kind of connection that I also enjoy.”

Parameters in the preseason and overall are different for the Bulldogs, who finished 12-2 a year ago and were the Division IV select runners-up the past two years. Just eight starters return — four each on offense and defense.

ACHS does have its two top players returning — running back/linebacker Jai Williams and lineman Nicholas Hilliard. The Bulldogs will mark the start of the season with a lock-in sleepover Friday night and team pictures Saturday. Practice officially begins Monday morning for the Bulldogs.

Maxwell watch list trio

University High defensive lineman Jaquelin Roy is one of three Louisiana players on the Maxwell Football Club’s preseason watch list for its High School Defensive Player of the Year award.

Roy, who recommitted to LSU last week, helped the Cubs win Division II titles the past two years. Roy is joined of the Defensive POY list by defensive lineman Jacobian Guillory of Alexandria Senior High. Alabama, LSU and Texas are among the final college choices for Guillory.

Another LSU commitment, wide receiver Kayshon Boutte of New Iberia’s Westgate High, is part of the Maxwell Offensive Player of the Year watch list.

LHSAA guarantee limits

The LHSAA office issued a statement  Thursday to clarify  the amount of guarantee money football schools in each classification could earn through playing in the Allstate Sugar Bowl/Prep Classic.

A maximum amount of $11,500 goes to Class 5A/Division I schools with the lowest range being $5,000 for Class 1A/Division IV.

The LHSAA announced at its June summer meeting that it paid out $86,400 to pay off amounts owed to some teams from its 2017 Allstate Sugar Bowl Prep Classic.

Open dates/dates to know

  • Broadmoor is seeking home/away boys basketball tournaments or games for Nov. 25-27, Dec. 4-7 and/or Jan. 17th. Contact coach Terrence Gillette at (225) 247-4601.
  • The first official fall football practice date for LHSAA teams that did have spring practice is Aug. 12. The earliest scrimmage date is Aug. 19, followed by jamborees Aug. 29-31.

Email Robin Fambrough at rfambrough@theadvocate.com