The first year of a new offense is sometimes rough.
Last year, both South Lafourche and H.L. Bourgeois learned that the hard way — each wearing the scars from a long, difficult 2018 season.
Both teams struggled to score and both missed the State Playoffs.
But both programs were also persistent and stuck it out this offseason. Because of that patience, both teams believe that the growing pains of their systems are behind them and 2019 will be a time to showcase offensive growth.
The Tarpons and Braves both thing they’re more equipped to score points after successful offseasons to refine their systems.
The two teams will get to showcase some of that growth against one another later this summer at the TGMC Community Sports Institute High School Football Jamboree at Terrebonne High School.
The event will feature the Braves vs. Tarpons for a half of football.
Terrebonne will also take on E.D. White at the now-annual event.
TARPONS THINK OPTION WILL BE CRISP IN 2019
South Lafourche High School football looked drastically different in 2018.
After several years running a spread offense, the Tarpons got back under center and converted to a triple option/flex offense last season under now-third-year coach Blake Forsythe.
The Tarpons struggled mightily offensively in the first year of the offense, scoring just 113 points in 10 games — a lot of those points coming late in games with the outcome already decided.
But Forsythe said there’s a shock and awe period that comes with a new system and he believes that period was last year for a Tarpons team that also battled youth in 2018.
This past offseason, the Tarpons tweaked the ways they execute, read and block offensively. Forsythe said those subtle tweaks have breathed new life into an offense that’s had a good offseason and start to fall camp.
In the Tarpons’ spring game against Chalmette, South Lafourche did have some offensive success. Forsythe said the team has grown even since then because a lot of their spring was spent tweaking the system.
“We can see the difference,” Forsythe said at Tri-Parish Media Day. “I think year one is always the hardest year and we knew that going on. But I think the kids are more confident in it and so far, we’ve very pleased with how they’ve worked and gotten better.”
South Lafourche lost 2018 quarterback Brock Bailleaux to graduation, but will likely pick from Austin Danos or Patrick Gisclair to replace him. In the backfield, the Tarpons have plenty options, as well. Up front, senior offensive lineman Jhy Orgeron is receiving collegiate attention and should create a push in the middle of the line.
Forsythe said he’s also been proud of the blocking of senior receiver Eric Thibodaux this offseason. Thibodaux, a 6-foot, 4-inch target will be a factor when the Tarpons stretch the field vertically. But the coach said he also was proud of how bought in the receiver has been at being an elite blocker in such a run-heavy offense.
BRAVES HOPE TO GET BACK TO ‘THEIR ROOTS’
Last year, H.L. Bourgeois coach Ryan Fournier decided that history needed to repeat itself in Braves Country.
H.L. Bourgeois had some prolific, explosive teams in the 2000s under then-coach Randy Boquet. The Braves won district titles and made postseason appearances.
Those teams ran the Wing T and were run-heavy — a style that Fournier re-enacted in Gray last offseason when he took over the program, citing that the offense fits the type of players the Braves get into their program.
The transition was rough.
The Braves scored more than 10 points in a game just once all season and the team scored just 10 points total in the entire second half of the season.
But with talented players and continuity, Fournier said he, too, thinks brighter days are ahead in year two.
“It’s like night and day,” Fournier said at Tri-Parish Media Day. “Coaches told us before that going to the Wing T was a big leap and that the biggest transition would be that first year. We see it now. We’re very pleased with how far we’ve come and the improvements we’ve made.”
Fournier said he thinks his team is more equipped to block in its new offense, citing the improvements the Braves’ linemen have made in their strength and conditioning throughout the offseason.
But he also has praised the work of quarterback Jordan Rainey, saying that the signal caller has taken strides to become a leader throughout the spring and summer.
“We’re so pleased with his growth,” Fournier said. “We’re excited to showcase the things he can do on Friday nights.”