Searching for a district that contains multiple perennial postseason contenders and experienced offenses that can potentially score often from anywhere on the field?
District 5-4A is for you.
Five teams realigned league were in the playoffs last season. Three of those teams made deep playoffs runs and are poised to make a run at the 5-4A title.
That list also includes St. Thomas More, back after two seasons in Class 5A. In 2010, the Cougars were one game from making their first football title-game appearance. Teurlings Catholic, a 2010 4A semifinalist; and Northside, a 4A quarterfinals a year ago.
So what about this year?
The coaches think offense will have a lot to say about who wins the title, making Breaux Bridge the slight favorite ahead of STM and Northside.
Don’t exclude Teurlings from that picture, said TCHS coach Sonny Charpentier.
Charpentier issued the rest of 5-4A a challenge as he picked his team to win a title behind quarterback D’Shaie Landor, who has thrown for nearly 3,000 career yards in two seasons a starter.
Northside returns all but one offensive starter from last year, while Breaux Bridge has two running backs who gained nearly 2,000 yards and three LSU commitments.
STM, on paper, could match that explosive potential, with a returning quarterback and two-thirds of a backfield that includes two runners who gained nearly a combined 1,900 yards.
With Landor, Charpentier plans to again open his offense, combining Landor’s skills with rapidly-developing receiver Dylan Bossier.
Cecilia and St. Martinville aren’t considered preseason contenders, but CHS should again be competitive and SMHS is rebuilding under new coach Gary Adkins, a former head coach at several Baton Rouge area schools.
Although he’s the league’s only first-year head coach, Adkins said he knows the burden he’s inherited.
“We play in an extremely tough district, with teams of proven quality every year,” Atkins said.
At Breaux Bridge, second-year coach Paul Broussard has the major ingredients to give his team the quick-scoring potential it has often lacked.
“On paper, this is one of the most talented and experienced teams we have had in quite some time,” Broussard said. “Offensively, we are deep at the skill positions. Depth on the offensive line is a weakness.”
Defenses have a new problem to solve when BBHS receivers Kavahra Holmes and Travin Dural, both LSU commitments, line up. Dural was a threat last year, while Holmes, a 400-meter champion last year, looks to become an impact receiver.
Throw in senior running backs Darrian Thomas (1,004 yards) and Adrian Menard (860), and the Tigers have a solid scoring foundation.
On defense, the Tigers return an entire secondary and two linebackers - Lamar Louis and Tyren Alexander - who have committed to LSU and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, respectively.
Over at STM, it’s impossible to overlook the usual talented stockpile.
STM coach Jim Hightower has a 234-78 record in 26 years at the school and 308-106-1 overall. Last year, STM was 13-1 in Class 5A and won the district championship.
The Cougars are led by junior quarterback Brandon Bergeron (1,869 yards passing, 18 touchdowns) and all-purpose back Matt Flores (1,179 rushing yards, 203 receiving yards).
Senior running back John Juneau gained 767 along with running backs Joby Labruzzo and Patrick Scott. Targets include 6-foot-5 tight end Jordan Murray and split end Andrew Stevenson.
STM’s defense is loaded with seniors, but only three are returning starters.
With a 6-0 record, Northside was last year’s district champion. Few coaches have had as impressive a first decade as NHS coach Vincent Derouen (83-37). DeRouen opened his offense a little more last year, and there’s the hint of the same this season.
Senior Kevin Johnson is the only player who didn’t start for the Vikings offense last year, but NHS still has quarterback Jasper Turner and two tall receivers in 6-5 Dwayne Benjamin and 6-3 Von Breaux.
The offensive line of all seniors - and perhaps one of the largest in the state - returns averaging 298 pounds.
Defensively, NHS returns its linebackers and half of a secondary that includes Brandon Lard (six interceptions).
On the defensive line the Vikings’ two interior linemen - Brandon Murray and Sederra Leopaul - each weigh more than 300 pounds.
Besides Bossier and Landor, Teurlings has versatile Devonte Jackson, a 205-pounder who can play fullback, tailback and slot receiver.
Charpentier lists only five returning defensive starters, but some of the key performers actively played reserve roles in the Rebels’ playoff push.
Cecilia has made a habit lately of appearing in the playoffs under Terry Martin, but the league’s coaches have placed the Bulldogs to finish just ahead of SMHS in the bottom half of the district.
That’s understandable, said Martin, who said his team will be sound defensively while nurturing an offense that has little experience at receiver.
Linebacker Jeremy Ducotte
also plays fullback. Defensive back D’Andre Dartez is back after intercepting four passes and returning two for touchdowns in 2010.
Along with Ducotte, the Bulldogs have a good offensive nucleus with quarterback Tylor Robin (725 yards, four touchdowns) and three linemen.
“The team is more balanced offensively, and that will enable us to sustain longer drives,” Martin said.
St. Martinville is looking to cultivate a resurgence that made the school a playoff regular in past decades. The Tigers have won fewer than five games during the past two seasons combined.
Asa Marshall, a senior who had eight interceptions, with three of those returned for touchdowns, helps lead the St. Martinville defense.
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