Practice makes gridiron perfect

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 19, 2002


High school football teams from around the River Parishes are busy getting ready for the up-coming season.

Practices are being held morning, afternoon and in some cases early evening as players hone their skills and try to remember the playbook.

A snapshot of some of the local squads and their grueling practice schedules begins at St. James High School.

The St. James Wildcats have been among the states elite teams the last several years. However, this years practices are unlike the previous years’ practices.

The reason is because the Wildcats are coming off a 6-4 season. It was 6-4 until the Louisiana High School Athletic Association changed it to 0-10 after it found out the Wildcats inadvertently had a player over the maximum age allowed on its roster.

“We’ve still got a good team no matter what sanctions they put on us,” said 10-year coach Rick Gaille.

A big, strong offensive line lead by All-District standout Emmanuel Sterling was protecting quarterback Blake Falgoust on many plays during a recent practice. The offensive line will likely be a key throughout the season.

“I’m very encouraged by the play of our offensive line so far,” said Gaille.

It appears as though St. James is treating every practice with deliberation.

“Right now, we’re just treating each practice as seriously as it was a game,” said Gaille.

Gaille believes it is important to treat each practice seriously because it helps his team prepare for the upcoming season. The attitude at this year’s practices is do whatever it takes to get the job done.

“Our guys are excited to be back and will do whatever it takes to win,” said assistant coach Don Rodrigue.

Gaille stressed the importance of his practices by saying, “We’ve just got to find ways to get players ready.”

The current practice schedule for the Wildcats is Tuesday-Friday. St. James will play its Jamboree game Aug. 29 at Hahnville High School.

Another stop was practices held at East St. John High School in Reserve.

The heat of August means only one thing to South Louisiana football fans. That is the start of football practice.

The East St. John High School Wildcats began practices a couple of weeks ago. Wednesday’s practice, which was the 11th, featured basic plays from the offense the and defense.

Defensive End Vegas Franklin, who is being heavily recruited by several large universities, is someone who will likely anchor the defense this season. One side of the line features Franklin and the other side features Kirston Pittman, who is also being heavily recruited by several schools.

The practices basically consist of shoulder pads, helmets, and a will to win.

“Let’s try it again until we get it right,” yells first-year coach Larry Dauterive.

Pre-seaon practices are not something new to Dauterive.

“I’ve been coaching for 35 years,” Dauterive said. “It’s the same thing every August.”

Quarterback Dominick Thomas took most of the snaps in the recent practice held on the athletic fields behind the school.

“Dominick has doing most of the quarterback drills because Ryan Perriloux has been out with a knee injury,” said the first-year coach.

One thing different about this year’s practices as opposed to last year is the intensity and togetherness of the squad.

“Our guys are trying hard at this year’s practices because of the respect and will to win for Coach Dauterive,” said Wildcat Booster Club head Burtis Tomplain. “I think this team is going to have some hard practices for the remainder of the summer, but it will be worth it in the long run.”

Some Wildcat wide receivers dropped balls that probably should have been caught, but Dauterive is not concerned.

“I’ve been a first-year coach before and things like that are going to happen. You’ve got to take it one thing at a time,” he said.

One thing that was interesting during practice was the fact that the Wildcats are auditioning punters and punt returners for the roster.

“I think right now we could use a punter. I expect more people to walk on as we go on,” said Dauterive.

“This guy (Dauterive) has won before and will continue to win,” said an assistant coach.

“I can just look at the players’ eyes and can see they are so more comfortable in practice than last season,” said Tomplain.

The East St. John High School Wildcats will open up play Aug. 30 in the Destrehan Jamboree.