When first-year Belaire High football coach Keith Woods said the team’s practices have been twice what he expected, it’s no exaggeration.
The Bengals of District 6-4A started off with just 21 players in preseason drills.
By Wednesday afternoon, there were 53 players from grades 9-12 preparing for a Friday scrimmage at Glen Oaks High.
“I just can’t say enough about these kids,” Woods said. “I’ve only been here a few weeks and to have them accept and buy into the things we’re teaching is such a blessing. I know from experience it doesn’t always happen that way.
“They (Belaire players) are the ones selling the program to the other kids here at school. Sure, as coaches, we’ve talked to several guys in the halls. But every day there’s at least one new face I’ve never seen. That means so much.”
Woods and Belaire travel to Glen Oaks for a Friday scrimmage set for 6 p.m. The District 6-3A Panthers of first-year coach Vernon Langley are also experiencing a growth spurt. Langley had less than 20 players for his first conditioning drills late last month and now have more than 30 players, including some eighth-graders who are now part of the student body.
“Hopefully, we can get between 40 and 45 guys before it’s all said and done,” Langley said.
Both sides now
Donaldsonville High’s Leondre James is one of three offensive returning starters this season. Unlike the others, James is taking on a new role — quarterback in the Tigers spread offense.
As a sophomore, James played wide receiver and ranked among the state’s leaders with 63 catches for 1,002 yards and seven touchdowns.
“He (James) is still learning how to be a quarterback,” DHS coach Terence Williams said. “After catching the ball last year, he’s on the other end now.”
Brothers Harrison and Grayson Domingue have emerged as offensive leaders for The Dunham School, said coach Guy Mistretta.
But their roles will be different.
Harrison Domingue (5-foot-10, 205 pounds) is set to play running back, while Grayson Domingue is a receiver for the Tigers of District 7-2A.
The Domingues are among four senior starters for the Dunham offense.
“We’re going to look to them (Domingues) to do a lot of different things for us,” Mistretta said.
It’s on the line
Livonia is coming off its best season ever, compiling a 10-2 record and winning a share of the District 5-3A title before advancing to the quarterfinals.
Though the Pointe Coupee Parish-based Wildcats have 16 starters back, fifth-year head coach David Brewerton said the key to success will be a core group of linemen — four returning starters on offense and three on defense.
“We’re going to rely on those guys to hold it together for us, while we get experience in some of the skill positions,” Brewerton said.
Senior Ben Todd and junior Kerry Savoy are battling it out for the quarterback job. Marique Beauvais returns at running back, where he shared time with Mark Lewis, now with North Texas, a year ago.
Russell Farris and Malcolm Dedrick are the new running backs for the Wildcats.
Istrouma’s planned Friday scrimmage with nearby Redemptorist has hit a snag, said first-year coach Justin Joseph.
Joseph said the request for a bus to travel to the scrimmage wasn’t made a week in advance, as required by Louisiaiana’s Recovery School District.