Attrition has hit the Central Lafourche Trojans pretty hard, but second-year head coach Keith Menard feels his second Trojan team can be better than his first.
Playing through a myriad of injuries at the quarterback position last year, Central Lafourche went 4-6 and 2-5 in District 7-5A play.
Despite their modest record, the Trojans were the only Bayou Region team to be able to boast a district win over a River Region team when they outscored Hahnville 13-0 in the final frame to come from behind and win 20-17 in the second to last regular season contest.
Although Menard admits the win added some momentum to the offseason, he said it hasn’t come up much.
“It really hasn’t been talked about. It’s not something we really brought up. I’m sure Hahnville is gonna be looking for us. That’s how it works in this game. Did that win versus Hahnville give us some confidence that we could compete in this district? Sure. But after we get started in this deal I’m not sure how much it’s going to play a factor,” he said.
The Trojans return just four or five starters on offense and three on defense, but Menard feels fortunate to be able to coach his two biggest playmakers one more time in senior running backs Thomas Wesley and Da’Quan Gray
“We were able to put them in multiple spots on our offense and try to find ways to get those guys the football. They’re our playmakers. They’re the guys that can make it go,” the coach said.
After being lost for the season just three games in last year, junior quarterback Austin Aucoin finds himself in a battle for the starting job with sophomore Jake Alleman. Menard joked that he didn’t want a Cleveland Browns trying to pick a quarterback situation, but he still hasn’t decided which guy gives his team the best chance to win.
“I think Austin, or A-squared as we call him, he was in the system last year. He has really improved as a passer. He’s smart, knows the offense, has made himself a little more mobile compared to last year. A-squared is going to find a way to do the right things,” Menard said. “Jake, young kid, good athlete, has picked up well on the offense, very sharp kid, a little more pep in his step, he can run a little more.”
Whoever Central Lafourche’s quarterback will be will have mostly inexperience at wide receiver and on the offensive line to work with.
Even though Central Lafourche’s main wide receivers project to be upperclassmen, most of them haven’t gotten much playing time in their careers.
Senior Casey Knight returns with some on-field experience. From there, junior Andrew Griffin and seniors Dedrick Cangelosi and Logan Maronge will be learning on the fly. Menard even said Wesley will play some receiver too.
The Trojans will also be breaking in new starting tight end senior Chance Gautreaux, who served as Central Lafourche’s second tight end in two tight end sets a year ago.
On the offensive line, Central Lafourche returns junior Owen Hebert and senior Cullen Smith at center and right guard. Menard expects junior Holden Pierce, who the coach called the most improved player on the team, to start at left tackle and fellow junior Stage Duplantis to start at right tackle. Senior Bryce Foret and junior Logan Bergeron will battle for the vacant left guard spot.
On the other side of the ball, the Trojans – running a 3-stack look with multiple fronts – are happy to have senior Chandler Richard back on defense. After playing safety as a sophomore, he began last season as a receiver and finished it up as a quarterback due to injuries.
“He’s been a key part of what we’re doing, really smart, kinda like the old saying, ‘Quarterback on defense,’ and it really fits him well and is true,” Menard said.
Cade Martin and Blake Alario will man the other safety positions in the Trojans’ three-safety look, according to Menard.
At corner, Menard has high hopes for Anfernee Poindexter.
“I think he’s got a chance to be a special player here,” said the coach. “He’s a heck of a corner. We can kinda build our defense around him a little bit.”
The other corner is a question mark with senior Trayvon Jackson going down with an injury. Junior Cameron Webber would likely start in his absence.
At linebacker, juniors Dereon Thomas returns, Zach Bilbo slides down after starting at free safety last year and Brendon Weever is being worked in at the other spot.
Up front, seniors Devin Andras and Trace Dufrene, juniors Isham Hindon and Josh Boudreaux and sophomore Norman Taylor, among others, will vie for the three starting spots.
Despite being younger and inexperienced, Menard said he believes his defense is faster than it was a year ago.
“Our guys have worked extremely hard since last November. It’s a new year and everybody’s looking forward to it,” said the headman. “Our guys want to find a way to get in the playoffs. We believe we can compete and get in the playoffs and make something good happen over here. The excitement level is supposed to be high and we’re excited with our kids too.”
The Trojans open 2014 with three-straight home games against Franklin, Clark and Mandeville.
They then begin district at H.L. Bourgeois on Sept. 26.
Central Lafourche has a luxury that most teams in the area don’t. They have two halfbacks that are capable of rushing for 1,000 yards on a given season. Pictured are Da’Quan Gray (left) and Thomas Wesley. Together, the duo helped the Trojans beat Hahnville last season.