The Covenant Christian Academy football team had something last year that most smaller schools never get to enjoy: experience.
The Lions had several seniors on their roster and most of those kids had two, three or sometimes even four years of playing experience at the varsity level.
“That was a hard group to say goodbye to,” CCA coach Randy Boquet said this past summer. “Those were some kids who had done a lot for us — both on and off the field. We’re talking about guys who had seen a lot of things on the field and who were leaders in our locker room, but also in the classrooms around our campus.”
This fall, the Lions are having to replace some of that leadership and experience, and it’s proving tough.
The Lions are 1-1 to start the season and they’ve been a bit up and down — a rarity for a program that’s grown accustomed to high-level success.
But Boquet said his team will not quit and will play its best football as the season progresses.
“We’re young in a lot of areas, and we don’t have all that many guys out there to begin with,” Boquet said after a jamboree win against Hansen Memorial. “But the kids work hard and are willing to be coached. We know we have some obstacles ahead of us, but we’re going to keep working and keep getting better. We believe in those guys and they believe in us and we’re going to keep fighting.”
It’s just tough to replace all of the things the Lions lost without any hiccups.
CCA had to replace its quarterback and several playmakers off last year’s team, which made the Division IV State Playoffs.
When it was all added up, Boquet said the team lost a huge percentage of its yards earned and touchdowns scored.
But the painful thing about Class 1A football is that if you lose players on one side of the ball, you lose them on the other, too, because most guys go both ways.
Those halfbacks and receivers CCA lost were also linebackers and/or defensive backs.
The offensive linemen who graduated were defensive linemen, too.
By the time fall camp started, Boquet said he was looking at having to fill several holes on his depth chart with players who had never started at the varsity level.
But Boquet said the team is talented and will find its way.
Offensively, CCA is led by senior quarterback Blane Boudreaux. The Lions run a Wing-T alignment, which means that several players will touch the football throughout varsity games. Malachi Ayo is one of the team’s primary threats, as is Connor Matherne and Jaren Scivicque. Boquet’s son, Zach is also a big part of the team’s offense.
Boquet said the current players are talented, but the Wing T is an offense that takes time to master.
In the jamboree, it clicked and CCA beat Hanson Memorial 15-0.
In the season opener against Central Private, the Lions struggled to get a first down, barely able to muster positive yardage in the game.
In Week 2, it clicked at times again and the Lions beat Sci Academy.
“We’re talking about timing and reps — hundreds and hundreds of reps to get it right,” Boquet said. “And we just don’t have that yet.”
Defensively, the Lions are the same as their offense — young, but talented. Lineman Bobby Bland is a playmaker and all of the above-listed names play on that side of the ball, as well.
So for the Lions, the story of the 2019 season is overcoming that youth and peaking at the right time.
Boquet pointed to the team’s schedule.
The Lions played two games like everyone else, but now have a bye.
Boquet said that week off will allow the team to get extra practice time in, while also teaching some hard truths in practice.
Out of the bye, the coach said he thinks the Lions should be able to find their stride and get things rolling.
Boquet said he sometimes stops and looks back at the past, adding that it’s amazing the strides CCA has made in such a short time.
His words hold weight.
We assume the Lions have been around for decades like the other local schools but they haven’t.
But they’ve still won district titles, have made postseason appearances and have held their own throughout their entire athletic department over the years.
“It’s such a blessing to be a part of this,” Boquet said. “We’ve accomplished so much as an athletic program in such a short period of time. We have a special things and we’re so happy for our school and the family we have within it.”