From the Sidelines

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 27, 1999

By MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / July 27, 1999

Kudos to the local athletes who participated in the Louisiana High School Coaches Association/Coca-Cola All-Star Football game Friday night.

St. Charles Catholic’s John Price and Kenny Ordeneaux, River-side’s DustinZimmer and Lutcher’s Andy Tramonte contributed to the winning East squad with West St. John’s Torrian Thomas and Pendarvis Morris and St.James’ Jeremy Harry making big contributions to West St. John’s LauryDupont’s West team.

With the annual All-Star Game having come and gone, focus now turns to the upcoming football season which is just around the corner. NFL trainingcamps opened last week for a number of teams with the hometown Saints heading up to LaCrosse this week. College teams will be starting practicesshortly and high schools can start practice next week.

Preseason magazines are at the newsstands with their annual previews and predictions. Fantasy football magazines are also out for thoseRotogeeks (who me?) who want to get an early start on their counterparts.

And while it’s hard to believe with the heat wave that is scorching the country, The River Parish Jamboree is less than a month away. So are thefirst college football games. And the Saints kick off against Carolina inless than seven weeks.

From now until those opening games, a number of questions will be answered and a few more will pop up. More questions will have to wait tobe answered until the Gatorade Superdome Classic in December and the Sugar Bowl and Super Bowl in January.

In the NFL, can Denver win a third-straight Super Bowl without John Elway? If not, who will fill the void in the AFC? Can Mark Brunell stay healthy and lead Jackson-ville to its first Super Bowl or will Dan Marino and the Miami Dolphins have one final hurrah? Can Bill Parcells lead the Jets back to the AFC Championship game or will Doug Flutie continue to perform magic for Buffalo? Who will be the NFC representative in the title game? Can Minnesota complete the mission it failed to accomplish last year? Or will Green Bay, with new coach Ray Rhodes, bounce back to reclaim its spot atop the conference? Will Dallas or San Francisco make one last claim to Team of the 90s with aging squads? Or is it time for up-and-coming teams like Arizona and Tampa Bay to take their places? In college football, who will be dancing in the French Quarter come January? Will Tennessee have fans singing “Rocky Top” in the Superdome or will the “Seminole War Chant” prevail this time around. Or is it JoePa’s turn to bring another championship back to Happy Valley? Which team will come out of nowhere (see Tulane, 1998) to crack the Top 10? And which player will be having his name called at the Downtown Athletic Club come December? Locally, can Ricky Williams take the Saints to the promised land (i.e., aplayoff win)? Can Billy Joe Hobert stay healthy and prove his doubters wrong? How will newcomers Eddie Kennison and Wally Williams perform to help jumpstart the offense? Which defense will show up, 1997’s (which was one of the best in the NFL) or 1998’s (which was one of the worst)? Mike Ditka’s future rides on the answers.

Ditto for Gerry DiNardo. Can LSU bounce back from a nightmarish 1998season? Who will rise from the quarterback trio to become the team’s leader? Can Rondell Mealy replace Kevin Faulk? Will the defense be able to stop teams this year or will it be overrun like it was last year? Will Tulane continue to be a rising power or will it start a fall back to the bad old days? Who will step up to fill the shoes left by Shaun King? Can Chris Scelfo shake the ghosts of Tommy Bowden and lead the Green Wave back to the postseason? How will Nicholls State fare without Darrin Barbier? Can Southern go back to another Heritage Bowl? Can Doug Williams bring Grambling back to its level of prominence? And can Northwestern Louisiana and McNeese State continue to be powers in Division I-AA? In high school, can the River Parishes have another season like 1998 when seven teams made the playoffs and two made the championship game? And which players will follow Chad Jasmin and Greg Gathers to the next level? Those questions will be answered in the coming months. But for now, themost important question may be “Are you ready for some football?”

Return To Sports Stories

Copyright © 1998, Wick Communications, Inc.

Internet services provided by NeoSoft.

Best viewed with 3.0 or higher