River Parishes players dot SFL landscape

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 2, 2000

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / August 2, 2000

METAIRIE – For years, the River Parishes has been a hotbed for the rivalries between LSU and Tulane and Southern and Grambling. But this year, localeyes will also be on the Southland Football League.

That’s because the River Parishes have become a hotbed for recruiting in the SFL as well. In 2000, 13 local athletes will be on the rosters of theleague’s three Louisiana representatives – McNeese State, Nicholls State and Northwestern State. They will be looking to help those teams return to theglory days of the late 1990s when all three made the Division I-AA playoffs.

Nicholls State has for years had a connection with the River Parishes.

Former River Parishes head coaches Phil Greco (East St. John) and DarrenBarbier (Hahnville) later became head coaches with the Colonels. FormerDestrehan head coach Tim Rebowe will be the wide receivers coach this season, his sixth at Nicholls State. Rusty Rebowe is the program’s all-timeleading tackler while Lutcher’s Brad Zellar is second in passing yards.

The 2000 season is no different for Nicholls State, coming off a 1-10 season last season under coach Daryl Daye. Eight players from the River Parishes -Rick Bleakley, Chad Carter, Kenric Johnson, Pendarvis Morris, Michael Peck, John Price, Torrian Thomas and Joseph Trosclair – are on the Colonels’ roster, with Carter, Johnson, Peck and Price seeing playing time last year.

Carter, a Lutcher High graduate, rushed for 68 yards on 22 carries in his junior season in 1999. He had an 18-carry, 53-yard game at Sam HoustonState. He played in all 11 games on special teams, collecting six tackles. Healso saw extensive action as the blocking back for starter Sullivan Turner.

Daye said at the SFL Kickoff Tour Thursday afternoon at the Doubletree Hotel in Metairie that it’s up to Carter on how good of a running back he wants to be..”Chad has come a long way,” Daye said. “Chad got into the program late inthe year and got to run the ball some. He did some effective things late inthe year and he came around this spring.

“It’s totally up to him. He’s got the talent, got the strength, got the size.Hopefully, he’s ready to step up, take the challenge and be the guy to say everybody follow me. If he does that he will have an outstanding year.”Johnson, also a Lutcher graduate, caught five passes for 93 yards as a sophomore wide receiver in 1999. He is expected to join returning startersCurtis Johnson and Sullivan Beard at the wideout spots in 2000.

“Kenric made some good catches in the spring and hopefully he will step up in the same fashion as I talked about with Chad,” Daye said. “It’s up to him. Ifhe’s thirsty, he has the talent to do it.”Price, a sophomore from St. Charles Catholic, is also expected to see moreaction at wide receiver after spending most of the 1999 season on special teams.

Price was named the SFL’s Special Teams Player of the Week after recording five tackles and recovering two fumbles against Samford. Price had twocatches, both against McNeese State in the season finale, for 18 yards for the season.

Peck, a Bonnabel High School graduate from LaPlace, had 27 tackles, including 15 solo, in his freshman season as a defensive lineman in 1999. Hehad four tackles for losses, four quarterback hurries, caused a fumble and recovered one. He had at least one tackle in 10 of the 11 games. He isprojected to start at nose guard this season.

Linebackers Rick Bleakley of Lutcher and Torrian Thomas of West St. Johnboth redshirted as freshmen last season as did West St. John defensive backPendarvis Morris.

“I see big things for both of them,” Daye said of Thomas and Morris. “Theyare both quality athletes. They will have an opportunity to step up and be roleplayers this year.

“If they can start, good, they will have to beat out some good players to do it. But you will definitely see running all over special teams, spot playing togive the starters some breaks. They are quality guys and quality players.”Trosclair, from Riverside, was one of the Colonels’ top recruits this season and is projected to battle for a role on the offensive line, either at tackle or at center.

“Joe Trosclair is a young kid who will have the opportunity to play right away,” Daye said. “We have a bunch of new faces on the offensive line.We’re anxious to see when we are finished with two-a-days, who comes through the smoke still standing and hopefully Joe will be one of them. If hecan learn the offense and pick it up and pick up the speed and change of the game, he will be an excellent player for us for years to come.”Northwestern State enters the 2000 season with a new coach in Steve Roberts. Roberts took over Sam Goodwin in June after the Demons went 4-7in 1999. With Roberts coming in so late, transition will be one of the keys forthe program in 2000.

Two of the players returning from the 1999 team are Germond Williams, a sophomore safety from Destrehan, and T.J. Sutherland, a senior widereceiver out of East St. John. Both saw action during the 1999 season.Sutherland, who was limited to six games because of injuries, caught 11 passes for 199 yards. He scored a touchdown on a 15-yard reverse atLouisiana-Monroe and led the team with three catches for 49 yards at Southern.

In his sophomore season, Sutherland had 20 catches for 332 yards and three touchdowns and added another four receptions for 168 yards and a touchdown in the playoffs. He is expected to start at flanker this season.Williams has been moved to safety after playing linebacker in the spring. Inhis redshirt freshman season in 1999, Williams had 10 tackles and a fumble recovery while playing special teams and seeing spot duty at linebacker.

“We’re looking for big things out of him,” Roberts said. “He has good sizeand good speed. His position has changed a little bit so he has to do somedifferent stuff but we are expecting big things.”McNeese State will also have a new head coach in 2000. Tommy Tate takesover after a 6-5 record in 1999. Tate will have a team with three RiverParishes athletes on the roster – East St. John’s Bruce Bolden, Destrehan’sMarcus Bates and St. James’ Tramaine Harrison. Bates was a redshirtfreshman at linebacker last season.

Bolden, a senior, is now in his third year as a starter at cornerback. He hasracked up over 25 tackles each of the past two seasons, including 30 last season. He also had two pass breakups in 1999. As a freshman, heintercepted two passes, returning one 47 yards for a touchdown against Northwestern State.

“Bruce has had a great summer,” Tate said. “He’s been with us this summer.He has worked hard in the weight room, he has worked hard with his conditioning. I look for him to have a great senior year.”Harrison, a junior, is a two-year letterman who will see action as a free safety this season. He had two tackles last season after recording 19 as afreshman in 1998.

“He’s a very good hitter,” Tate said. “We have to get the linebacker out ofhim. If we can get him to cover that deep middle, he’ll have a great chance toplay for us this year. He’s a very big hitter, a good tackler.”

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