Last season, Houma Christian School football coach Chuck Battaglia said it best.
During Media Day, he pulled his seniors out of a crowd, took a good, long look at the bunch, then couldn’t help but laugh.
“Man, next year, we’re going to be young,” Battaglia said with a laugh, while taking a peek at some of the young men getting ready to do an interview. “We have some talented players at a lot of key positions.”
Man, he sure wasn’t kidding.
The Christian Warriors lost a decorated senior class last season — right as they made the jump from Class 1A to Class 2A.
So far, the transition has not been easy.
Houma Christian is winless on the season and has struggled to compete against the big dogs in their new district.
On Thursday night, the Warriors fell against state power Catholic of New Iberia on Homecoming Night.
Catholic strutted their stuff early in the game and put the scoreboard in their favor — never looking back. It wasn’t much of a surprising result, given that they’re one of the best teams in the state in Division III and Houma Christian is still building.
But if one talks to the folks at Houma Christian, they’re convinced that this is just a short blip in the radar and brighter days are ahead.
The Warriors’ numbers are not great at the varsity level, and they’ve often been outmanned against bigger, more athletic teams this season.
But folks have to understand that Houma Christian football is still very much in its infancy compared to most schools in the area.
They started their program in 2010 and didn’t even play a full varsity schedule that year.
It feels like the Warriors have been here forever because they’ve had success — having made the playoffs several times in their existence.
But the team is still very much in its infancy — all things considered — compared to some of the schools that they’ve been facing.
“It’s been a very fast ride,” Battaglia said last year of the successes the team has had throughout its program’s history. “It’s just been such a fun thing to be part of the ride.”
But for all of the 2019 struggles, those close to the program say that there are brighter days ahead.
Assistant coach Jose Delgado said Houma Christian has good numbers at its middle school and younger grades, and a talented core group of players is rising through the ranks and is making some nice.
Houma Christian played middle school this season and advanced to the playoffs.
Delgado said when that group rises to the varsity level, they have a chance to do good things.
“That little group there can come up and make some noise,” he said. “They have some good football players coming up.”
And heck, even at the varsity level, a lot of the guys on the field this season are underclassmen who are coming back.
It’s been rough, yes. But youth turns into experience, and the Warriors are going to be back stronger than ever in 2020.
CCA ALSO BATTLING YOUTH
Houma Christian’s rivals across town also are in the same boat.
CCA had a talented senior group last fall — including players who went on to play at the next level.
That group left the program, leaving this year’s team younger and far less experienced.
The Lions are 2-5 and have struggled the past three games — losing to Highland Baptist, Centerville and Central Catholic.
But coach Randy Boquet said openly throughout the offseason and into the early stages of the season that he was proud of the strides that his youthful team has made — overcoming several of the bumps in the road that have come along the way.
“I couldn’t be prouder of this group of kids,” Boquet said earlier this season. “We had to replace a lot of guys and we’re not as experienced as we were last season. But they show up, they’re coachable. They’re willing to do the things that we tell them to do. It’s been a group that’s a pleasure to coach, and I know that they’re going to keep getting better and I know we’re going to keep coaching them up and challenging them to get better.”
The Lions take on Vermilion Catholic on Friday — one of the top teams in Class 1A. They then will take on Hanson Memorial.
The Lions are on the outside looking in for playoff contention right now, but Boquet said the most important thing for his team right now is to keep getting better and progressing.