Multiple fans told Zachary High coach David Brewerton they didn’t recognize many of the Broncos’ starters after Thursday’s scrimmage. With 18 new starters, the lineup certainly isn’t what it used to be.

Brewerton — and the other coaches in District 4-5A — said he thinks these Broncos are “programmed ” to succeed. After winning three LHSAA Class 5A titles in the last four years, including the past two in a row, Zachary remains the 4-5A favorite.

“We expect things to be done a certain way, regardless of who is out there on the field,” Brewerton said. “For us, the expectations are no different. We play physical and take pride in being ready to play at a high level when it counts.”

The expectations are lofty for 4-5A teams and players. There is enough star power to make the six-team district shine in most high school football orbits.

Much does revolve around Zachary quarterback Keilon Brown  a four-year starter, a two-time All-Metro MVP, a two-time all-state player and a Memphis commitment.

Defensive lineman Jalen Lee is Live Oak’s first LSU football commitment and a force to be reckoned with.

Wide receivers Chris Hilton of Zachary and Brian Thomas of Walker are among the top 2021 prospects. Three other quarterbacks, Luke Lunsford of Denham Springs, Sam Kenerson of Central and Walker’s Ethan McMasters, are proven commodities.

There were notable preseason losses. Walker receiver/defensive back Jalen Cook is an LSU basketball commitment and will focus on basketball. Zachary’s Sean Burrell, a punter and starting defensive back in 2018, is among the nation’s top sprinters and is concentrating on track.

The star power does not end with the players. The league features three coaches with over 100 wins, including Central’s Sid Edwards at 161. Edwards won three LHSAA titles at Redemptorist. Brewerton also has three titles and so does first-year Walker coach Chad Mahaffey, who won three titles at University High, including the last two in Division II.

Denham Springs’ Bill Conides coached LSU quarterback Myles Brennan in high school. Scotlandville’s first-year coach Lester Ricard is a former LSU/Tulane QB who previously was Walker's head coach. Brett Beard has led Live Oak to a quarterfinals berth two years ago.

Like Zachary, each team has new starters and positions to fill going into the season.

“Zachary has won three of the last four (5A) titles and has to be the favorite. No question. They have great players, but they get so much out of all their players,” Scotlandville’s Ricard said. “They’re the best until somebody beats them.”

Ricard becomes the third coach in three years for the Hornets, who played in the Division I title game just three years ago. SHS QB Jessie Craig and running back Chance Williams will rely on an experience line.

With Brown, a talented dual-three quarterback who passed for 2,700 yards, rushed for 1,354 yards and accounted for 30 total touchdowns, the Broncos have an edge and a means to get to the edge.

Hilton is a 7-foot high jumper who now becomes a prime target for Brown after the graduation of Chandler Whitfield. Linebacker Kenyon Martin is back for the defense.

“I think our guys have done a good job learning the systems we put in,” Mahaffey said. “We have some guys in new positions and some first-year starters who we will depend on.”

Like Brown, Lunsford of Denham Springs will have new playmakers around him. By contrast, Central returns Kenerson and running back Isaiah Rankins but is retooling its defense.

Live Oak running back Kee Hawkins returns from an injury-plagued junior year and has committed to Army. The Eagles have a new QB in Rhett Rosevear.

“It’s high school football and you always have places to fill,” LOHS’ Beard said. “We feel like Rhett needs more experience with different color jerseys coming at him. We’ve got a good senior group and want to ride them as far as we can.”

PROJECTED FINISH

ZACHARY

HEAD COACH: David Brewerton

2018 RECORD: 13-2

BIGGEST STRENGTH: The return of two-time all-state QB Keilon Brown for his fourth year as a starter.

BIGGEST NEED: ZHS has 17 new starters who need to District 4-5A play begins.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Brown, WR Chris Hilton, DL Charles Selders, LB Kenyon Martin, DL Charles Selders.

DENHAM SPRINGS

HEAD COACH: Bill Conides

2018 RECORD: 7-5

BIGGEST STRENGTH: The return of QB Luke Lunsford and a solid offensive line.

BIGGEST NEED: Rapid development of the offensive cast of playmakers around Lunsford.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Lunsford, OT Alex Harris, LB Tristan Duhe, DE/OLB Choppa Johnson.

LIVE OAK

HEAD COACH: Brett Beard

2018 RECORD: 5-6

BIGGEST STRENGTH: DL Jalen Lee is an LSU commitment who leads a defense with six returning starters.

BIGGEST NEED: Though the Eagles are senior-laden, some veterans will be first-year starters and those players must mature quickly.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: DL Lee, RB Kee Hawkins, LB Bret McCoy, QB Rhett Rosevear.

WALKER

HEAD COACH: Chad Mahaffey

2018 RECORD: 8-3

BIGGEST STRENGTH: The athleticism to move the ball quickly with the passing game.

BIGGEST NEED: A productive running game and rapid development on defense and

PLAYERS TO WATCH: WR Brian Thomas, QB Ethan McMasters, LB/RB Keondre Brown, DL Dakota Wilson.

SCOTLANDVILLE

HEAD COACH: Lester Ricard Jr.

2018 RECORD: 4-7

BIGGEST STRENGTH: Size along the lines, along with plenty of speed.

BIGGEST NEED: Developing depth at multiple positions to counter inevitable injuries on the 5A level.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Jessie Craig, RB Chance Williams, DL Jamie Cleveland, DB Chris Daigre.

CENTRAL

HEAD COACH: Sid Edwards

2018 RECORD: 5-6

BIGGEST STRENGTH: Two key playmakers in QB Sam Kenerson and RB Isaiah Rankins.

BIGGEST NEED: Solid play from new starters, particularly on defense.

PLAYERS TO WATCH: QB Kenerson, RB Rankins, DB Jermaine Spears, DB Deveawn Armstead.

2018 PLAYOFFS

CENTRAL: Lost in 5A first round, 45-24, to Alexandria Senior High.

DENHAM SPRINGS: Lost in 5A second round, 38-37, to Acadiana

LIVE OAK: Lost in 5A first round, 22-7, to Acadiana.

SCOTLANDVILLE: Lost in Division I first round, 30-0, to Brother Martin.

WALKER: Lost in 5A first round to, 35-9, to Hahnville.

ZACHARY: Won Class 5A title, 27-24, over West Monroe.

THEY SAID IT

“Zachary has won three of the last four (5A) titles and has to be the favorite. No question. They have great players, but they get so much out of all their players. They're the best until somebody beats them.”

LESTER RICARD, Scotlandville coach

MARQUEE MATCHUPS

DENHAM SPRINGS AT CENTRAL, Oct. 11: The Baton Rouge area's oldest continuous rivalry will be an interesting 4-5A gauge for both teams.  

ZACHARY AT DENHAM SPRINGS, Oct. 18: With Zachary's Keilon Brown and DSHS' Luke Lunsford presumed to be healthy, this could be an epic QB showdown.

SOUTHERN LAB AT SCOTLANDVILLE, Oct. 4: This is a nondistrict game between two neighboring rivals that will attract plenty of interest.

SCHEDULES

CENTRAL

September

6 Mentorship Academy

13 at Broadmoor

20 Belaire

27 at Southern Lab

October

4 Plaquemine

11 Denham Springs*

18 at Scotlandville*

25 Walker*

November

1 Zachary*

8 at Live Oak*

DENHAM SPRINGS

September

6 Hahnville

13 at Ponchatoula

20 St. Amant

27 Assumption

October

4 Westgate

11 at Central*

18 Zachary*

25 Live Oak*

November

1 at Walker*

8 at Scotlandville*

LIVE OAK

September

6 Ponchatoula

13 Woodlawn

20 at West Feliciana

27 at Kentwood

October

4 Abramson Sci Academy

11 Zachary*

18 Walker*

25 at Denham Springs*

November

1 at Scotlandville*

8 Central*

SCOTLANDVILLE

September

6 McKinley at Memorial

13 at Natchez MS

20 Captain Shreve

27 at South Plaquemines

October

4 Southern Lab

11 at Walker*

18 Central*

25 at Zachary*

November

1 Live Oak*

8 Denham Springs*

WALKER

September

6 Madison Prep

13 Destrehan

20 at Fontainebleau

27 Landry-Walker

October

4 Broadmoor

11 Scotlandville*

18 at Live Oak*

25 at Central*

November

1 Denham Springs*

8 at Zachary*

ZACHARY

September

6 at East Ascension

14 Deerfield Beach FL-Shreveport

20 Brandon Ms.

October

4 Istrouma

11 at Live Oak*

18 at Denham Springs*

25 Scotlandville*

November

1 at Central*

8 Walker*

*District games

LINEUPS

CENTRAL

OFFENSE

*QB Sam Kenerson 5-11, 175, Sr.; C Tyler Tullier 5-11, 235, Sr.; *OT Layne Landry 6-0, 240, Sr.; *OG Andrew Cangelosi 6-1, 245, Sr.; *OG Logan Scott 6-3, 285, Sr.; OT Kyrin Ely 6-4, 270, Jr.; *RB Isaiah Rankins 5-7, 170, Jr.; *RB Jonathon Swift 6-1, 185, So.; WR Juan Banks 6-1, 175, Jr.; WR Malik Hillard 6-3, 180, Jr.; WR Josiah Rankins 5-9, 170, Jr.

DEFENSE

LB Riyan Cotton 6-0, 225, Sr.; LB Jaquwine Williams 5-10, 180, Jr.; DB Caleb Ward 5-9, 175, So.; *DB Jermaine Spears 5-9, 175, Sr.; DB Amari Montgomery 5-9, 170, So.; *DB Gage Evans 6-0, 185, Jr.; *DB Deveawn Armstead 6-2, 185, Jr.; DE Tyron Jackson 6-1, 215, Jr.; DE Jovonte Whiten 6-0, 240, Sr.; DT Cole Netherland 6-0, 245, Jr.; DT Jaylon Brooks 6-0, 260, Sr.

DENHAM SPRINGS

OFFENSE

QB Luke Lunsford 6-2, 210, Sr.; RB Jaylen Jenkins 5-10, 221, Sr.; WR Phillip Earnhart 5-10, 192 Sr.; TE Brayden Bencaz 6-1, 218, Sr.; TE Logan Whittington 6-2, 233, Sr.; WR Preston Holwager 5-11, 184, Jr.; WR Troy Golmond 6-2, 189, Jr.; OT Alex Harris 6-5, 290, Sr.; OG Chris Smith 6-5, 326, Jr.; C Lake Thorburn 6-3, 252, Sr.; OG Leo Montanez 5-11, 270, Sr.; OT Trey Harrell 6-4, 272, Jr.

DEFENSE

DL Choppa Johnson 5-10, 234, Jr.; DL David Aime 5-10, 208, Sr.; DL Kaydon Berard 6-0, 234, Sr.; LB Tristan Duhe 6-0, 223, Sr.; LB Ryals Wygant 5-11, 204, Sr.; DL Connor Croghan 6-0, 246, Sr.; LB Omari Warren 6-1, 218, Jr.; DB Hayden Horne 6-3, 218, Sr.; DB Josiah Raymond 6-0, 209, Sr.; DB CJ Johnson 6-1, 203, Sr.; DB Spike Brasseaux 5-10, 178, Jr.

LIVE OAK

OFFENSE

QB Rhett Rosevear, Sr.; *RB Kee Hawkins, Sr.; *HB Hagen Long, Sr.; X Byron Donahue, Sr.; Y CJ Davis, So.; Z Amar Pink, Sr.; *OL Will Lemoine, Sr.; OL Ben Calmes, Sr.; OL Caleb Bond, Jr.; *OL Kevin Bowen, Sr.; *OL Gabe Cox, Sr.*; *K/P Cole Crenshaw, Sr.;

DEFENSE

DL Kyle Kitto, Jr.; *NG Jalen Lee, Sr.; *DL Tyler Braun, Sr.; LB Colin Dickerson, Sr.; *LB Gabe Kimble, Sr.; *LB – Bret McCoy, Sr.; *LB Dammian Capling, Jr.; *DB Darrian Ricard, Sr.; DB Branson McCoy, Jr.; DB Aiden Saunders, So.; DB Kade Lane, Sr.; *DS Carson Jones, So.

SCOTLANDVILLE

OFFENSE

QB Jessie Craig, RB Chance Williams, RB Marlon Gunn WR Reggie King, WR Marlon Thomas,* Jeremiah Harris TE CJ Knighten *OL Martrell Thomas, *OL Jacorie Joseph, *OL Davonte Campbell, *OL Spence Thomas, OL Jarvis Caldwell, OL Armond Cook-Brown, OL Glen Duhe

DEFENSE

DL Jamie Cleveland, *DL Deondre Bell, DL Jonathan Horton, DL Bryce Cage, LB Aaron Blacher, *LB Darius Williams, LB Stephen Jackson, *DB Chris Daigre, DB Mike Brown, DB Jahvon Grigsby, DB Trimell Carey, DB Leroy Robinson

WALKER

OFFENSE

*QB Ethan McMasters 6-0, 175, Sr.; *RB Demetri Wright 5-9, 210, Sr.; *WR Brian Thomas 6-4, 190, Jr.; WR Peyton Richard 5-8, 160, Jr.; WR Jasper Turner 5-9, 155, Jr.; WR Josh Spitzer 5-11, 170, Jr.; *C Tim Lawson 6-2, 280, Sr.; OG Zach Zimm 6-0, 310, Jr.; OG Garret Wilson 5-10, 240, Jr.; OT Ethan Ladner 6-1, 220, So.; OT Mitchell Gallman 6-0, 225, Jr.

DEFENSE

DL Tristan Thompson 6-0, 225, Sr.; *DL Dakota Wilson 6-1, 220, Sr.; DL Dylan Sharp 6-3, 240, Sr.; DL Justin Thomas 5-10, 230, Sr.; *LB Keondre Brown 5-11, 220, Sr.; *LB Zach Lacour 6-2, 180, Sr.; DB Jesse James 5-9, 175, Jr.; *DB Kerry Flowers 6-1, 180, Sr.; DB Aubrey Womack 6-2, 190, Sr.; *DB Kobie Moncree 6-1, 175, Sr.; DB Marcus Dukes 5-10, 170, Jr.

ZACHARY

OFFENSE

QB Keilon Brown, RB RJ Allen WR Chris Hilton, WR Jayden Williams, WR Jaleon Crear, WR Charles Robertson, OL Tre White, OL J'Darius Carter, OL Dylan Landry, OL Matt Clayton, OL Jonathon Banguel.

DEFENSE

DB Connor Wisham, DB Dejarion Jones, LB Agen Langford, LB Tyren Stewart, LB Kenyon Martin, LB David Beathley, DL Eli Hill, DL Elijay Hayes, DL Jai Washington,DL Charles Selders.

Email Robin Fambrough at rfambrough@theadvocate.com