Since taking over Donaldsonville High School’s football program in the spring, first-year coach Benny Guilbeaux has been steadily making up ground.
After inheriting a team that endured a 2-8 season, Guilbeaux went through spring training with nearly 70 players but without a full complement of coaches to go about the method of changing the Tigers’ culture.
While his roster numbers dipped to about 50 players, Guilbeaux’s coaching staff rounded into shape several weeks before the start of the school year. Despite the lack of a jamboree, Donaldsonville scored a come-from-behind 24-21 win over Assumption in its season opener.
“We’re just behind, getting as many reps as we can,” Guilbeaux said. “Unfortunately we didn’t have a jamboree. We weren’t in game shape, and hopefully we’ll be a little better this Friday.”
For the second straight week, Class 3A Donaldsonville (1-0) steps up in classification to Class 5A and challenges Ascension Parish stalwart Dutchtown (1-0) in a 7 p.m. game Friday at Griffin Field.
“They’re playing hard for him; they’re battling,” Dutchtown coach Benny Saia of Donaldsonville. “They have some skill kids that are pretty good.”
The Donaldsonville-Dutchtown contest isn’t the only one featuring a contest for parish bragging rights.
Pointe Coupee Central (1-0) brings a new No. 8 ranking in Class 1A to Livonia (1-0) for a 7 p.m. kickoff between two teams separated by less than 20 miles of Pointe Coupee Parish.
“This week is a game where most of the kids know each other,” Livonia coach David Brewerton said. “Some of them played ball together growing up, so it brings a little more to the table as far as that’s concerned.”
Not only was the debut for Guilbeaux, a former safety at Notre Dame, a success, but also for starting quarterback Tyler Brown.
Brown, a sophomore, completed 11 of 18 passes for 178 yards and three touchdowns to three different receivers. Tulane commitment Leondre James led the way with five catches for 86 yards.
“For the community, the kids, and the school it was great,” Guilbeaux said. “They didn’t have the best season last year, and starting off the season with a win to break being OK with losing was tremendous for the kids.”
Dutchtown overcame the loss of starting quarterback Patrick Thompson (ankle) and four fumbles to register a 24-7 road win over Lutcher.
Junior Brandt Fritchie replaced Thompson and passed for 114 yards to provide a huge lift to his team. The Griffins almost produced a pair of 100-yard rushers in Kajuan Coleman (17-118, 2 TDs) and Arkansas commitment Torrance Mosely (17-90).
“The opponent is us. We’ve got to get better,” Saia said “We won the game Friday, but we didn’t play very well. I loved the effort, but we had six drops. We’ve got to improve regardless of the opponent.”
First-year coach Cleotha Johnigan Jr. hasn’t slowed down a surging PCC program that won a school-record eight games, a district title and a playoff game in 2012.
The Cougars haven’t allowed a point during their scrimmage, jamboree or opening game (a 64-0 thumping of East Iberville).
Livonia has maintained its momentum from an 11-win season and trip to the Class 3A semifinals a year ago with a season-opening 38-28 victory at Class 5A Live Oak — a game the Wildcats led 25-0 at halftime.
Two-way standout Russell Farris rushed for 144 yards and a touchdown and quarterback Kerry Savoy passed for 179 yards and 3 TDs.
“Being able to open up with a win over an up and coming 5A program is big for us on many levels,” Brewerton said. “You want to start the season 1-0 and be able to gain the power points. Plus the momentum it gives you going into Week 2.”