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Opionions vary on spring football

Michael Kiral / L’Observateur / May 20, 1998

LAPLACE – For football fans, spring football is chance for them to whet their appetites for the upcoming season. For coaches, it is a chance to findout just which players will be playing where in that season.

At West St. John, home of the defending District 9-2A champion Rams,coach Laury Dupont said there is a lot of technique, drilling and contact going on among the 53 players who came out for practice. Dupont saidspring football has a two-fold purpose – teaching the younger players the fundamentals of the game while giving the older players repetitions.

The same is true at Riverside where coach Mickey Roussel has 85 players out for practice. Roussel said he is trying to accomplish two things thisspring -establish the team’s identity while also teaching fundamentals.

That is one reason why he stresses contact in the practices.

“If you don’t use the spring for blocking and tackling, you shouldn’t be doing it,” Roussel said.

Former East St. John head coach Lou Valdin, now an assistant at Hahnville,said he had three goals for the spring. The first was to fill the holes leftby the graduating seniors. Second, to try to get his best athletes in thebest positions for the team. And third, to establish a team’s depth.Currently, teams are allowed 15 days of practice with the last practice usually being either an intrasquad scrimmage or a spring game against another opponent. Coaches’ opinions vary on what is the best method touse with Valdin for one liking the spring game concept.

“It is hard to evaluate players going against the same guys everyday,” Valdin said. “You need to get the players out there against another team toevaluate where they are going to play.”Dupont also likes to culminate the spring with a game.

“I feel the best practice is a game,” Dupont said. “The level of intensitypicks up and you can see how a kid reacts under the lights.”Roussel, on the other hand, said he prefers not playing a spring game.

“You know what is going to happen,” Roussel said. “You are going to spendmore time putting in formations and plays. You try to do too much if youplay someone else. I like to keep it short and simple.”Unlike college football in which most athletes concentrate solely on one sport, high school coaches often have to wait until sports like baseball and track are completed to get their full complement of players. That isespecially true for the smaller schools in classes 1A, 2A and 3A.

“It is hard to ask a kid just off baseball to put the helmet on,” Roussel said. “You don’t want to burn out the kids and that is what we try to watchout for.”Even though he coached at a larger school than Dupont and Roussel, Valdin also had athletes such as Thomas Pittman and Kerry Watkins who played more than one sport. He said it was tough on the players going five days ina row and that most coaches prefer holding three to four practices a week and giving the players a day off.

Both Dupont and Roussel said it would not upset them if spring football is eliminated. Dupont, who has three coaches who coach all year long and anumber of players who participate in multiple sports, said he would rather add five days in the fall and have two scrimmages instead of one.

“But you have got to do what everybody else is doing or you fall behind,” Dupont said.”Roussel, who usually keeps spring practices down to around 10 days, and Valdin both mentioned a proposal that would give schools the option of holding spring football or adding days in the fall. Valdin said he preferredthe old days when coaches were allowed to hold spring football anytime.

Coaches would get in half their practices before the baseball and track seasons started and the other half after those sports were concluded.

Either way, Valdin said he would prefer to keep spring football. He said itnot only allows coaches to find out who is going to play where but that it also helps get players recruited because college coaches are allowed to come out in May and watch practices.

“I wanted to know who was on the team before summer workouts,” Valdin said. “I wanted to already have everybody where they belonged.”All three teams are concluding practices. Riverside will have a lightscrimmage Thursday. West St. John hosts Terrebonne Thursday at 6:30p.m., while East St. John hosts Archbishop Shaw Friday at 6:30 p.m.

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