Injuries cripple most high school football teams.
For the South Lafourche Tarpons, they seem to just mark another player’s time to shine.
Despite an injury depleted depth chart, South Lafourche has rolled to a strong start to the season with a 2-0 record.
In their most recent game Thursday night against John Ehret, the Tarpons overcame a 22-8 deficit without their starting quarterback Colby Callais, starting halfback Brook Eymard and top defensive back Norry Galjour to rally for a 28-22 road win.
“I’m extremely proud of our team,” South Lafourche coach Dennis Skains said. “They seem to do that. They never stop. They never quit. This is a group unlike others that I have been around in 11 years. … This is a different group in that aspect.”
The injury bug sunk its teeth into the Tarpons’ plans well before games even started this fall – both on and off the field.
One of the top defensive backs in Louisiana, Galjour was the first casualty, suffering an arm injury when he fell at his house repairing a batting cage. Around the same time Galjour went down, senior wide receiver and defensive back Treavon Evans had to be shelved for a few days with wisdom teeth surgery.
“It’s funny the way it works,” Skains said during fall practices. “It’s just been a couple of freak things like that which have kept us from being 100 percent. We’re without a handful of our guys and the injuries aren’t even football related.”
But when the pads started popping, the Tarpons felt their share of nicks, too.
Eymard suffered a knee injury before the season started and will miss the remainder of the season.
Against John Ehret it got worse when Callais sprained his ankle in the first half and didn’t return.
Evans and several other Tarpon regulars were also in and out of the game because of cramps.
“That’s football,” Skains said. “You never want it to happen, but it builds depth. Someone else has to step up.”
For the Tarpons, that’s exactly what has happened.
In lieu of Eymard’s injury, senior Jake Williams has emerged as a workhorse for the South Lafourche offense.
Previously the second-string halfback, the senior has become a bruiser inside of the team’s spread attack.
Williams rushed for 198 yards against John Ehret – most of the yardage coming on physical, bruising runs.
“He’s growing every week,” Skains said. “You can see him getting better and better each week. His vision is just so much better and he’s being able to hit those holes that he wasn’t hitting in the spring. … He never quits. He never stops moving his knees. He never stops running and he keeps his pad level low.
“He’s special. He’s really stepped up because (losing Brook) put a lot on Jake and that’s a lot for one kid who was going to be the second guy, but now all of a sudden is the first. … Jake is doing a heck of a job.”
“It’s mostly my offensive line,” Williams added. “They are doing a good job opening the holes for me and I’m just running through them as hard as I can.”
No matter how many running backs a team has, an offense will crash and burn if it cannot throw the football.
That’s why if the Tarpons continue to roll, sophomore quarterback Dominick Fillinich may go down as one of the unsung heroes of the team’s season.
Normally a varsity wide receiver, Fillinich moved under center when Callais went down against the Patriots.
In one of his first drives, the young quarterback showed his youth and inexperience when he floated a pass in the red zone for an interception.
Instead of hanging his head, Fillinich showed moxie and rebounded, hitting a key touchdown pass on the final play of the first half to Evans while also running for a score to lead the Tarpons’ rally.
“He’s extremely talented,” Skains said. “He’s going to be the next guy up after Colby. We have a lot of faith in him. … He’s very good at keeping his composure.”
But even with their early success, Skains and the other Tarpons know that 100 percent health must be restored if the team hopes to win the Bayou District Championship.
Galjour is expected to be back in the lineup in the coming weeks.
Skains said Callais may return as early as Friday when the team plays Helen Cox.
“He has a sprain,” Skains said. “Early in the season, we wanted to be cautious. … We know we need Colby back if we want to keep moving in the same direction.”
When everyone gets back into the lineup, the Tarpons will have depth and should be fully loaded with talent.
They will be one of the few teams in the area who can go two-deep at several positions and know that they can be competitive.
“Injuries build depth,” Skains said.
But everyone will always remember the way the team’s younger players responded to adversity to keep the team afloat.
That heart is what Skains said is the best part of his team.
“They aren’t the most athletic,” Skains said. “But there’s something about every time you give them an obstacle, they seem to step up and they are not scared of it. And that’s special.”
“We have heart,” Evans said. “We never want to give up. We never want to have a regret.”
South Lafourche quarterback Dominick Fillinich readies for a snap during Thursday’s game against John Ehret. The sophomore filled in for starter Colby Callais and helped South Lafourche rally from a 22-8 deficit for a 28-22 win.