Teams ‘spring’ into action

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 15, 2010



In the midst of an spring of upheaval for the East St. John sports program, all Wildcat coaches, players, and supporters have to be glad to return to a bit of normalcy: spring football under the Larry Dauterive regime.

The Wildcats won’t be playing their annual black and gold scrimmage this season — their field is off limits currently due to the renovations to the school’s track.

But after a surprising 2009 campaign which saw East St. John win seven regular season games behind a high-powered offense, Dauterive likes what he sees for his team’s 2010 prospects.

“I’m pleased with where we are,” said Dauterive. “We’ve only got 10 days this year, and we’ll do the best we can as far as evaluating our talent and what needs to happen before the season.”

Offensively, D’haquille Williams is the returning star, after an All-State junior season that saw him among the state’s receiving leader’s despite playing prep ball for the first time.

He’ll have a new quarterback in junior Darion Monroe, who replaces senior Kalen Henderson. He moves over to offense after a season as an All-District defensive back.

“I’m really pleased with (Monroe’s) play,” said Dauterive. “He’s processing things real well. His grasp of the offense, his awareness, its ahead of where I thought it would be. I look for big things from him this year and next.”

The offensive line returns four starters (Jared Pryor, Dontaria Savoy, Dathan Thomas, and Chris Robinson) to lend some stability.

The defense should also be improved, with eight players who received significant playing time returning. That unit should be led by cornerback Floyd Raven, a major college prospect.

“We did him an injustice last year. Out of necessity, we had him playing safety, almost at linebacker up at the line,” said Dauterive. “We needed him there, he’s a good tackler. But he’s a cover corner, and that’s where he’ll be at the next level.”

Fresh off of a state semifinal appearance, St. Charles enters this spring looking to replace most of the starters off of the 2009-10 team.

SCC lost 24 seniors, including nine of its 11 defensive starters and seven more on the offensive side.

“The attitude on this team has been good,” said SCC coach Frank Monica. “But we’re dealing with more inexperience than ever before. And with our predistrict schedule, we’ll have to grow up quickly.”

Junior-to-be Donnie Savoie will step in at quarterback to replace Henri Faucheux, who leaves the team to concentrate on his baseball career. It’s the second straight season the Comets have had to replace a quarterback for that reason, a year after now Louisiana Tech baseball signee Marc Picciola arrived at the same decision.

But Monica stresses that defense is the main focus point right now.

“It all starts defensively, and we need to rebuild that side,” said Monica. “If you can’t stop anyone, you can’t win.”

As far as strengths and weaknesses go, he says it’s just too early to tell.

“I think we definitely have points of concern,” Monica said. “I do like the enthusiasm of our guys, though. I thought after losing so many seniors, it would lead to a lack of confidence, and it’s been the opposite. They have an air of confidence about them, and they’re giving us the effort we want.”

Riverside is fresh off of a run to the Class 2A quarterfinals, and coach Mickey Roussel believes the team’s continuity will help them build on their success.

The Rebels bring back eight offensive starters and seven more on defense. Also important is the stability in the coaching staff — Roussel is in charge from the beginning, as opposed to a year ago, when he replaced former RA coach Tim Taffi in the preseason.

“We’ve got the same philosophy, the same coaches, so it’s all familiar,” said Roussel. “Right now, we’re just looking at fundamentals, blocking and tackling. We don’t want to do anything too grueling … We’ve got a number of guys that play two or three sports.”

Roussel believes his team will be especially strong across the lines. The offensive line is anchored by returning All-State tackle Dale Martin. Behind him, the Rebel offense brings back dual threat quarterback Darnell Rachal and rusher Thomas Crouch. Defensively, Grady Geiger will be among those leading a strong unit.

Expectations are high, and Roussel says a key is to avoid complacency.

“We hope the kids see that the sky is the limit,” he said. “But sometimes, when people expect so much, you have a tendency to relax. Obviously, we can’t afford to do that.”

West St. John is another team that enters the spring with a lot of turnover, starting at the quarterback position.

For the first time in four seasons, Dray Joseph will not be the Rams’ starter there. Junior Jarius Moll will move from wide receiver to replace the departed senior.

“We’re breaking in a new quarterback right now,” said WSJ coach Robert Valdez. “We’re really not throwing too much at them right now.”

With the team’s leading receiver now playing quarterback, the Ram skill starters are all getting their feet wet. Blandy Young and Denzel Pierre are among those vying to start at wideout, and Kylvan Favorite could be tabbed to replace senior Kenneth Dabney at tailback.

The offensive line is a veteran unit however. And a young defensive unit will be led by Ronnie Feist, who moves to linebacker from the line after a tremendous 2009.

“We’re a young club, no doubt,” said Valdez. “But it’ll be a fun team to coach.”

They’ll be tested early — as in today. West St. John’s spring game is set for 11 a.m. today at Pan American Stadium against 5A St. Augustine.

“A lot of teams wouldn’t take a matchup with St. Augustine here,” said Valdez. “But it’s the best way to see what you have. We just want to go out, compete, and execute the basics.”