The South Lafourche football team wants to prove this fall that it isn’t a one-hit wonder.
After finishing last season with a perfect 9-0 regular season record, the Tarpons graduated 23 seniors from their program.
But with a slew of new players at key positions, South Lafourche second-year coach Dennis Skains said the Tarpons are eager to show that they are building a winning program and not just a team with the occasional solid season.
“We are building a program here,” Skains said. “We want to be a year-in, year-out contender. Not just a team with the occasional strong season.”
With the big senior class gone from last season’s squad, the Tarpons have a plethora of new faces in its starting lineup.
Offensively, South Lafourche returns four starters from a unit that averaged 40.7 points per game a year ago.
Quarterback Dominick Fillinich will take over under center for the Tarpons this season, replacing 2012 signal-caller Colby Callais.
But Skains said he is comfortable in Fillinich’s ability because of his varsity experience. The young quarterback saw action throughout last season. Fillinich guided the Tarpons from behind in an early-season road win against John Ehret. He also started the Tarpons’ 24-7 win against Westgate in district play.
Skains said that Fillinich has grown up a lot in the offseason and is ready to take over South Lafourche’s offense.
“We knew last year that he was going to be the quarterback, so we got him in every chance that we could,” Skains said. “He’s made a lot of strides this offseason and has done a lot of things to mature. We think he’s ready and is in position to have a nice year.”
What will help Fillinich’s odds at success are the players around him.
Workhorse halfback Jake Williams returns in South Lafourche’s backfield after rushing for 980 yards last season.
The Tarpons also have three returning offensive linemen, including massive 330-pound Vanderbilt commitment Bailey Granier.
Versatile Brody Williams is also back, as are Bryce Guidry and Cy Griffin.
“It makes any running back feel good when you know that you have a good line,” Jake Williams said. “And we have that. A football team isn’t anything without a good line. That’s the most important part of what we do.”
Skains agreed and said that with the exception of Granier, South Lafourche’s offensive front will be smaller than last season. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
“We won’t be able to just physically move people like we did many times last year,” Skains said. “We’ll have to be more creative. We’ll do more pulling and do different things to take advantage of our strengths. We’re smaller, but we’re faster. There are opportunities for us to take advantage of that.”
Defensively, South Lafourche has more experience and returns approximately a half-dozen starters from 2012’s dominant, turnover- hungry defense.
One of those players is linebacker Peyton Guidry, who wowed opponents last season with his ability to make disruptive plays for the Tarpons.
Skains said his linebacker is like a second coach on the field. He owns a 30 on his ACT and is one of the brightest student athletes on the team.
“The kids call him Superman,” Skains said. “He does everything out there. He even corrects me sometimes if I make a mistake in a call or something like that. He’s just a bright kid and a great leader. He’s going to have a great year for us.”
Guidry is able to stay clean because of the depth South Lafourche has up front, a mix that includes Mason Boudreaux, Steven Dye, Marvel Bourgeois and Justin Berry.
“I think Peyton would be the first one to tell you that he is able to have so much success because of how well those guys hold their own in the trenches,” Skains said. “They get it started for the defense.”
But while Superman glides across the field and makes plays, another Tarpon has earned his coach’s praise.
Skains said linebacker Davey Cheramie has won the respect of his teammates with his motor and work ethic.
The coach said the converted cornerback is only about 5-feet, 7-inches and weighs about 160 pounds. But Skains said he is relentless and will replace All-State linebacker Braxton Acosta.
“He’s a good cover player because he used to be a corner,” Skains said. “He’s also fast. He’s just hard as hell to block. He’s one of the fastest kids on the team, and he’s so aggressive. He has two shoulders that aren’t worth a crap. He wears braces on both of them. But he keeps playing until he has to sit out a play. He’s a special kid.”
So with all of the pieces in place, the Tarpons are now focused on posting another solid season.
Skains said to close the chapter on last season, he and his coaching staff hosted a funeral for the 2012 year.
He said the team buried the season into the earth and had a eulogy to close the book on the season.
“That let the kids know that it was time to start over,” Skains said.
The kids seem to get the message and are eager to try and post another good season.
“We have to understand that we’re starting fresh, but also build on last year with the way that we play and prepare,” Boudreaux said.
“We know what our goals are,” Granier added. “And we know what we have to do to reach those goals. Last year was last year and this year is this year. The 2013 South Lafourche football team has to pave its own way and make its own mark.”
South Lafourche receiver Justin Doucet breaks a tackle during a recent practice. The Tarpons senior class is eager to return to the playoffs to show that the team is an annual contender and not a program with the occasional solid season.