The football battle for St. James Parish returns this fall as Lutcher and St. James rekindle a series that hasn’t been played in more than a decade.
The Bulldogs and Wildcats last matched up in 2004, the last time the schools shared a district.
With Lutcher dropping from Class 4A and St. James rising from 2A, the two are now part of the eight-team District 9-3A and will meet Oct. 16, when the Bulldogs drive west over the Mississippi River.
“I don’t have enough words in my vocabulary to describe the intensity that comes to mind,” Lutcher coach Tim Detillier said. “You could have a lot more fans, but you can’t have more intensity than what Lutcher and St. James has.”
The reunion of the old rivals comes as St. James has re-established itself as a state power. The tradition-rich Wildcats suffered through back-to-back winless seasons in 2011 and ’12, but the arrival of coach Dwain Jenkins the following year awakened the program and led to back-to-back quarterfinal appearances in the Class 2A playoffs.
This year, St. James must overcome the loss of star quarterback Lowell Narcisse, an Auburn commitment who went down with a knee injury in the spring and will miss his junior season.
Lutcher hopes to pick up in 3A where it left off in 2008, when the Bulldogs celebrated their third state title in a six-year stretch. The program had its share of success in 4A as well with six straight playoff appearances and 2009 and 2011 trips to the state semifinals, but Detillier said 3A feels more like home.
And why not? Lutcher won 3A state titles in 2003, 2006 and 2008.
Even though the size of their new district has all teams playing seven league games, Detillier and Jenkins recognize the October matchup will go a long way in deciding the district race. Not that the rivalry needs high stakes to feel special.
“A lot of the people that support St. James and Lutcher work at the plants up and down the river,” Jenkins said. “It’s people you see every day.”
Folks on the Lutcher side may have a hard time envisioning Jenkins in rival colors. The former quarterback graduated from LHS in 1997. The first 13 years of his coaching career were spent under Detillier as a Lutcher assistant.
“My kids still go to school on the East Bank,” Jenkins said.
Other rivalries to keep an eye on this fall: Albany hosting Springfield on Sept. 18 in their battle for Livingston Parish bragging rights; and Catholic-Pointe Coupee heading across town to face New Roads rival False River in a Nov. 6 season finale.
Springfield coach Ryan Serpas dropped back-to-back games against his alma mater in 2010 and ’11, but the Albany graduate has won three straight in the series while building the Bulldogs into a perennial playoff team. Springfield reached the 2A quarterfinals last year after making the semifinals in 2012.
A big junior class will be leaned on as the Bulldogs return just 11 starters.
“We’re just adjusting to some different personnel and trying to see what’s going to be best for our team,” Serpas said. “Just trying to find the right mesh for what is going to work best for us.”
Albany has won only five games over the past two seasons, but the opening of a new fieldhouse this summer has the Hornets walking with a pep in their step.
“It’s something this community can hang its hat on for a long time to come,” coach Blane Westmoreland said.
On the field, the 3A Hornets will rely on the likes of Kamryn Mayers and Cheyenne Labruzza to lead their old-school Wing-T offense.
Catholic-PC and False River have first-time head coaches.
David Simoneaux takes over at Catholic-PC after serving as Central’s offensive coordinator the past five years. The former Parkview Baptist running back ditched the shotgun-oriented offense in favor of the veer-option attack he ran under Kenny Guillot in high school. The change in philosophy has brought Boyd Smith, one of the team’s top athletes, over from free safety to play quarterback.
Simoneaux said the smashmouth offense is a good fit in New Roads, a town he called blue-collar and hard-working.
“It’s been exciting to see it take shape,” he said.
Devyn Baker is the new coach at False River after spending last season as the defensive coordinator. With only six seniors and 10 juniors on the roster, Baker said he expects about 12 of his 18 sophomores to earn starting roles. New quarterback Trent Jourdan is one of those sophomores.
“We’re going to be young but competitive,” Baker said.
Coach: Tim Detillier (208-88 at Lutcher, 252-110 overall)
2015 district: 9-3A
2014: 7-4, 2-2 in District 6-4A
Last playoff appearance: 2014 (lost to Plaquemine in Class 4A second round)
Looking back: Lutcher made its sixth straight playoff appearance in 4A, winning a playoff game for the first time since 2011.
Moving forward: The Bulldogs return to 3A, where they won state titles in 2003, 2006 and 2008.
Ask The Advocate: QB Jontre Kirklin is poised for a big year, but he needs a young offensive line to mature quickly.
Projected starters on offense (spread): *WR Aldontre Davis (Jr.), *RB Destin Porter (Sr.), *QB Jontre Kirklin (Jr.), *WR Gregory Clayton (So.), RB Narquez Jones (So.), OL Caleb Zeringue (Sr.), OL Brayden Bauer (So.), OL Rowdy Scott (So.), WR Tharrin Maddie (Sr.).
Projected starters on defense (multiple): *DB Dylan Recotta (Jr.), *DL Tyler Williams (Sr.), *DB Ethan Bland (Jr.), *DL Sully Laiche (Sr.), * LB Ben St. Pierre (Sr.), *DB Paul Joseph (Jr.), DB Anthony Brown (Sr.), DL Tylon Scott (Sr.), LB Thaddeus Watis (So.), DB Dontell Johnson (Sr.), LB Rashaun Preson (So.).
Sept. 4 at Dutchtown
Sept. 11 West Jefferson
Sept. 18 at St. Amant
Sept. 25 McMain#
Oct. 2 KIPP Renaissance
Oct. 9 at J.S. Clark#
Oct. 16 at St. James#
Oct. 23 Sci Academy#
Oct. 30 at Lusher#
Nov. 6 at De La Salle#
St. James Wildcats
Coach: Dwain Jenkins (14-12)
2015 district: 9-3A
Last playoff appearance: 2014 (lost to Many in Class 2A quarterfinals)
Looking back: QB Lowell Narcisse passed for 3,125 yards, leading St. James to its second straight 2A quarterfinals appearance.
Moving forward: DeMarcus Williams steps in at quarterback after Narcisse suffered a season-ending knee injury in the spring.
Ask The Advocate: How quickly Williams catches on should determine how smoothly St. James transitions to 3A.
Projected starters on offense (spread): QB DeMarcus Williams (5-11, 175, So.), *C Tywon Johnson (5-10, 255, Sr.), *G Tyler Broden (5-10, 250, Jr.), *SE Arron McKenny (6-3, 180, Sr.), *SE Dontaze Costly (6-0, 175, Jr.), *SE Curtlan Johnson (6-0, 175, Jr.), *T Trevaugh Boldin (5-11, 175, Jr.), T Bryant Grows (6-3, 240, So.), T Ziyshonne Harry (5-10, 255, So.), *SE Rashod Pierre (5-11, 175, So.), RB Aquindas Steib (5-11, 215, Sr.).
Projected starters on defense (multiple): *DT Chandon Hickerson, *DT Jason Dumas, DE Tyriek Stewart, *LB Aquindas Steib, *LB Brehlun Domino, LB Camrin Grows, *DB Jai Lewis, *DB Kaelan Zenon, DB Shawn Preston, DB Tyren Jasmin.
Sept. 4 West St. John
Sept. 11 Bogalusa
Sept. 18 E.D. White
Sept. 25 at J.S. Clark#
Oct. 2 at Lusher#
Oct. 9 at Sci Academy#
Oct. 16 Lutcher#
Oct. 23 at De La Salle#
Oct. 30 McMain#
Nov. 6 at KIPP Renaissance
Coach: Blane Westmoreland (5-15)
2015 district: 7-3A
2014: 2-8, 0-5 in District 8-3A
Last playoff appearance: 2009 (lost in first round)
Looking back: Albany was outscored by double digits in all five district games.
Moving forward: The Hornets hope a new fieldhouse can breathe life into the program.
Ask The Advocate: Even if improved, Albany has an uphill battle in one of 3A’s stoutest districts.
Projected starters on offense (Wing-T): QB Skylier Lehmann (Jr.), RB Devin Wells (Jr.), RB Kamryn Mayers (So.), TE Tyler Allbritton (Jr.), SE Jewel Rheams (So.), T Jacob Stine (So.), G Jordan Howze (So.), C Jonathan Weedman (Sr.), G Perce Ziebarrth (Fr.), T Dennis Moriatiry (So.), SE Cameron McClean (Sr.).
Projected starters on defense (3-3-5): DB Cheyenne Labruzza (Jr.), DB Justin Parrish (Fr.), DB James Williams (Jr.), DE Daniel Chester (Jr.), DT Jacob Giachetti (Fr.), DE Conner Turner (Sr.), LB Ridge Ray (Jr.), LB Allen Barrilleaux (So.), LB Caleb Woods (So.), DB Randy Ingram (Sr.), DB Jewel Rheams (So.).
Sept. 4 Cohen
Sept. 11 East Iberville
Sept. 18 Springfield
Sept. 25 Crescent City
Oct. 2 North Central
Oct. 9 Grace King
Oct. 16 Jewel Sumner#
Oct. 23 at Bogalusa#
Oct. 30 Independence#
Nov. 6 at Amite#
Coach: Ryan Serpas (47-32)
2015 district: 7-2A
2014: 9-3, 4-2
Last playoff appearance: 2014 (lost to Kinder in quarterfinals)
Looking back: Springfield reached the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons, making its second deep run in three years.
Moving forward: The Bulldogs have only a handful of seniors and must replace RB Josh Taylor, who set a single-season school rushing record with 1,997 yards.
Ask The Advocate: Juniors must step into leadership roles for Springfield to continue its recent run of success.
Projected starters on offense: QB Damariae Claiborne (Jr.), RB Eric Counce (So.), RB Keenan Austin (Sr.), RB William Barnett (Jr.), SE Lorenza Robertson (Sr.), TE Kaleb Clark (Jr.), C Reeves Blankenship (Jr.), G Maverick May (Jr.), G Isaiah Palmer (So.), T JoJo Kirkland (Sr.), T Bishop Gehagen (So.).
Projected starters on defense: DB Keenan Austin (Sr.), DB Lorenza Robertson (Sr.), DB Daniel Lawson (Jr.), DB Kalob Soileau (So.), LB Isaiah Palmer (So.), LB John L. Fryson (Fr.), LB Eric Counce (So.), DT JoJo Kirkland (Sr.), DT C.J. Thaggard (Jr.), DB Kaleb Clark (Jr.), DE Antonio Ashton (Jr.).
Sept. 4 at Independence
Sept. 11 at Christian Life
Sept. 18 at Albany
Sept. 25 at Pope John Paul II#
Oct. 2 at St. Thomas Aquinas#
Oct. 9 at St. Helena#
Oct. 16 at Pine#
Oct. 23 Hannan#
Oct. 30 at Northlake Christian#
Nov. 6 at Bogue Chitto (Miss.)
Coach: David Simoneaux Jr. (first year)
2015 district: 5-1A
2014: 5-4, 3-1
Last playoff appearance: 2013 (lost in second round)
Looking back: The Hornets finished strong, scoring 40-plus points in their final three games.
Moving forward: Simoneaux brings a hard-nosed philosophy to his first head coaching job and is implementing the veer.
Ask The Advocate: Players like QB Boyd Smith must adjust to new roles in Simoneaux’s offense for Catholic-PC to contend.
Projected starters on offense: QB Boyd Smith (6-0, 150, Sr.), *RB Reed Smith (6-0, 170), RB Brett Hawkins (5-11, 190,), *TE Lucas Patin (5-11, 190), *G Garrett Bradley (5-9, 265,), G Jacoby Bradley (5-9, 270), G Jacob Cifreo (6-0, 235, Jr.), T Chance Bass (5-11, 225, So.), T Hunter Fuselier (5-11, 185, Jr.), SE Troy Pichon (6-1, 160, Sr.), *SE William Jewell (6-0, 175, Sr.).
Projected starters on defense: *DE Austin Soulier (5-11, 255 Jr.), DT Garrett Bradley (5-9, 265, Sr.), DE Lucas Peebles (6-1, 185, Sr.), DT William Jewell (6-0, 175, Sr.), *LB Lucas Patin (5-11, 190, Sr.), *LB Brett Hawkins (5-11, 190, Sr.), *Adam Glaser (5-9, 180, Sr.), DB Tra Aucoin (5-11, 170, Sr.), DB Justin Vosburg (5-10, 170, Sr.), DB Nathan Carriere (6-1, 165, So.), DB Samuel Grezaffi (5-9, 150, Jr.).
Sept. 3 at Ascension Catholic
Sept. 11 at Ascension Episcopal
Sept. 18 St. John-Plaquemine
Sept. 25 Varnado
Oct. 2 at Covenant Christian
Oct. 9 Westminster#
Oct. 16 St. Edmund#
Oct. 23 North Central#
Oct. 30 at Basile#
Nov. 6 at False River#
False River Academy Gators
Coach: Devyn Baker Sr. (first year)
2015 district: 5-1A
2014: 3-6, 1-3
Last playoff appearance: 2012 (lost in first round)
Looking back: A slow start in nondistrict play carried over to the league season.
Moving forward: Baker looks to improve a program that has had limited success.
Ask The Advocate: A group of 18 sophomores gives False River hope.
Projected starters on offense: QB Trent Jourdan, *RB Gared Beauvis, SE Damien Johnson, SE Josh Gaspard, *SE Matt Leleux, Cole LaPrairie, *G Corey McDaniel, G Ownen Jarreau, *T Reid Sellars, T John Paul Bizette.
Projected starters on defense: DB Alex Lassaigne, DB Matt Leleux, DB Marvin Kador, DB Josh Gaspard, DB Damien Johnson, LB Jake Bayham, *LB Gared Beauvis, *LB Jordan Aguillard, *DT Corey McDaniel, *Ryan Smith.
Sept. 4 East Iberville
Sept. 11 Houma Christian
Sept. 18 at Christian Life
Sept. 25 Beau Chene
Oct. 2 at Northwest
Oct. 9 at St. Edmund#
Oct. 16 at North Central#
Oct. 23 at Basile#
Oct. 30 Westminster#
Nov. 6 Catholic-Pointe Coupee#
* — returning starter; # — district game