green adidas tracksuit but defending state champion Zachary won’t go quietly
Thanks to trendy college programs like Oregon, football and fashion statements can be part of the same conversation.
Granted, this one is different than “Red is the new black” or “Lilac is the new pink.” The common thread is this: Football or fashion, people want to know about the next big thing.
In District 4 5A, that talk ultimately leads to Scotlandville High, which is primarily known as a basketball power. Zachary coach David Brewerton and his district counterparts lauded the Hornets a year after Zachary won the Class 5A nonselect title, the first football state title in school history.
“No question Scotlandville is the favorite,” Brewerton said. “Their quarterback and running back are special, and so are several other players, including (Kelvin) Joseph, the defensive back. They’re capable of winning a state championship.”
Scotlandville’s story is compelling and similar to Zachary’s tale of 2015. The Broncos were a state semifinalist in 2014 but hardly a household name. Zachary was led by an undersized quarterback, Lindsey Scott Jr., and skeptics questioned whether it was a viable contender.
To erase all doubt, Scott rolled up 5,002 total yards and 51 touchdowns, was the Gatorade Player of the Year and earned MaxPreps All America honors as the Broncos finished 14 1. He is now a freshman at LSU.
Scotlandville has not been in the conversation about Louisiana’s top 5A programs and has never advanced beyond the quarterfinals. Like Scott, Louisiana Lafayette commitment Levi Lewis is an undersized QB. The three year starter had more than 3,000 total yards and more than 30 TDs as a junior. Speedy junior running back Trenton Charles ran for 1,003 yards and 11 TDs in the regular season.
The Hornets have a first year head coach in LaVanta Davis, SHS’ third coach in as many years. It’s the first head coaching job for the protg of Robert Valdez, who left to become head coach at Class 3A power St. James.
Davis, who also will be defensive coordinator, was a key assistant for Valdez at Scotlandville and Class 1A power West St. John. He nixed the notion of added pressure.
“There’s no pressure on the team or me, the way I see it,” he said. “This is my first year as a head coach, and this is a different team than the one we had last year. It’s new for all of us, and we’re excited about it.”
The key difference between Zachary last year and Scotlandville this year: The Hornets won’t compete for the Class 5A title. A change in the LHSAA’s rules moves the Hornets back into the group of select schools. The reason? Scotlandville has an engineering magnet program and attracts 25 percent or more of its students from outside its traditional attendance zone.
So instead of competing against Class 5Anonselectpowers like Acadiana and West Monroe, Scotlandville’s playoff competition consists of private schools, including defending Division I select champion Catholic High, Archbishop Rummel and John Curtis.
Zachary graduated a number of key performers, but the district race is likely predicated on what happens when the teams meet Oct. 7 at Scotlandville. Zachary won 49 46 last year.
Three players are vying to replace Scott. Senior Shyron White and junior Trae Shropshire are experienced targets for whoever wins the starting job at QB. Braylon Jones, a defensive back a year ago, returns to running back; Jones ran for more than 1,000 yards two years ago. Linebacker Donovan Perkins anchors the defense.
There is no shortage of possibilities behind the frontrunners. August’s flooding ravaged Denham Springs High School, which lost practically all of its equipment. The Yellowjackets are led by running back Tyre Golmond, who posted 1,277 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.
Walker hasn’t made the playoffs since 2001, qualifying in 4A then. The Wildcats finished 5 5 in 2015 and battled Zachary down to the wire. They return 19 starters, including receivers Terrell Warner and Darius Hampton.
“Not one game in this district can be taken for granted, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see multiple teams contend for the title,” Walker coach Brandon Lawley said.
Central is coming off two .500 level seasons but has quarterback Gabe Brown and running back Xavier Lewis among its returning starters.
Take away Zachary’s unprecedented title run, and Live Oak may have been the breakout team last fall. The Eagles were 7 5 and won their first playoff game in Class 5A. Quarterback Ryan Morris returns to lead the offense.
Q coach Brandon Lawley
What made you want to become a coach?
“My father was a coach, along with two of my uncles. I have always enjoyed the competition and the opportunity to work with young people.”
Walker improved to 5 5 last season. What has to happen for the Wildcats to be a contender?
“We have to get over that mental hump of not winning a single district game for five or six years. We need to win early in district and stay focused.”
You turned 29 this year. Do you think your age makes it easier to relate to your players?
“I think it can certainly help, relative to how you communicate. But I think it’s something a coach can do at any age and is more contingent on personality over age.”