Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 5, 2011



Wednesday marked a banner day for River Parish athletes, as 14 athletes made official their collegiate choice on National Signing Day.

Each River Parish school saw at least one player sign a letter of intent to play at the next level, including 12 football players and two softball players.

They include: West St. John’s Darzil Washington and Cailin Cola; Riverside’s Darnell Rachal; St. Charles’ Harley Scioneaux; East St. John’s Floyd Raven (who played his full prep career at the school before a post-season transfer to Bonnabel); Lutcher’s Jarvis Landry; St. James’ Alonzo Lewis; Destrehan’s Ethan Hutson; and Hahnville’s Brian Ensminger, Ben Taylor, Alvin Kelly, Derek Howard, Elise deBruler and Taylor Weber.

Washington will make his way to Texas A&M to play for former Green Bay Packers coach Mike Sherman. A standout linebacker on a suffocating Ram defense, Washington finished his senior campaign with 74 tackles, 12 sacks, 19 tackles for loss and two interception returns for touchdowns.

Originally, he thought he was en route to Louisiana-Lafayette, but a late offer by Texas A&M sealed Washington as an Aggie.

“They’d been recruiting me since mid-season, sending letters, and by the end of the season they had stopped,” he said. “But (Texas A&M assistant coach) Terrell Williams called me and asked how my recruiting was going and I told him I had a couple of schools looking at me … I took a visit there last week and I just felt at home. I feel confident. You can’t get better than a Top 25 school in the Big 12.”

West St. John coach Robert Valdez called the signing huge.

“Sometimes, people have the stance that we don’t send players to the big schools, but like we tell these guys, it doesn’t matter. If you’re a football player, then they will find you. For Darzil to have this opportunity, it’s big for him. I know he’ll go on and represent West St. John well.”

Cola, meanwhile, is ticketed for Nicholls State The 6-foot-3, 290 pound offensive lineman was the leader of a Rams line that was often reshuffled due to injury, but paved the way for a dominating running game over the season’s second half.

“He’s played for me for three years and he’s a great kid,” said Valdez. “He’s got tremendous upside. He’s got a lot of things really going for him. Not just his size, but he’s a very aggressive player. I expect he’ll continue to have success, and I’m very excited for both of these guys.”

Cola said he’ll really miss “wearing that blue and white” every Friday night, but that he’s tremendously excited about the upcoming opportunity.

“I’ve wanted to have this chance for a long time,” said Cola. “I’m just glad to be able to say I’m going on to play college football … I can’t wait to get back into football.”

Scioneaux is making his way to the Division I ranks as he signed with Louisiana-Monroe, St. Charles Catholic’s first D-I signee since Casey Robottom signed with Tulane.

A 6-foot-6 tight end, Scioneaux was always the biggest target on the field for the Comets as he hauled in 20 receptions for 344 yards and four touchdowns. His most notable grab came in the regional round of the playoffs against Farmerville, as he caught a game-winning 2-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Donnie Savoie to cap a dramatic comeback victory.

He earned both All-District and All-State honors for St. Charles.

“It feels like a dream come true,” said Scioneaux. “I’ve been wanting this for a long time and it feels really good to see it come to reality.

Going there just felt right … Coach (Todd) Berry is building something special there and I can’t wait to be a part of it.

“I love the campus, and they’ve got a good academic program. It’s just a lot of different things that made me want to go there.”

“When you go D-I, it means a full ride. Everything but pizza money,” said St. Charles coach Frank Monica. “I’m elated for him. He’s wanted this badly. As far as the recruiting process … he’s very marketable when you talk about a guy who is 6-foot-6 and who had a score of 27 of the ACT. It’s a slam dunk.

“He was really one of our best leaders, and he had great confidence. When I was having concerns about our prospects this season, he told me, ‘Coach, don’t worry. We’re going to have a great season.’ He said we’d go to the Dome. And we didn’t quite get there, but we were just a game away.”

Floyd Raven capped a standout football career at East St. John with a 36 tackle, two interception campaign as a senior. Like Washington, Raven is on his way to Texas A&M as well to play with his St. John Parish peer and also former Wildcats’ standout Patrick Lewis, the standout offensive lineman who will be a junior this coming season.

Riverside’s Darnell Rachal is on his way to Nicholls after officially signing along with a number of other local athletes at the New Orleans Saints facility Wednesday.

Rachal was named the Class 2A Offensive MVP by the Louisiana Sports Writers’ Association, the Offensive MVP in District 9-2A, and the co-St. John Parish Offensive MVP by L’Observateur. He accounted for 48 total touchdowns and over 3,300 total yards as the quarterback in Riverside’s spread offense, a unit that averaged 41.5 points per game.

“It feels great,” said Rachal. “This was a chance to play close to home. They visited me at my home, and I felt good about the situation there. I’m looking forward to going there and working really hard for my degree.”

Riverside coach Mickey Roussel and assistant coach Joe Trosclair each attended Nicholls, and Roussel said he thinks part of its appeal to Rachal was its similarities to his current school in many respects.

“I call him a good ‘ol country boy, and I think that’s what appealed to him,” said Roussel. “It’s kind of like a bigger Riverside.”

“What I’m most proud of … we knew he had the athletic ability, but early on his grades were an issue. That work he put in to be qualified to go is a testament to Darnell.

“He didn’t just work hard at his athletic endeavors, but the whole package. I’m so proud he’s going on to receive a college education … they’re not just getting a good athlete, but a really good person.”

LSU will count two local athletes among its signing class in Lutcher’s Jarvis Landry and St. James’ Alonzo Lewis.

Landry was ranked the nation’s top wide receiver by and the No. 4 receiver by He caught 51 passes for 716 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior and 62 passes for 1,158 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior. Landry was named his team’s most valuable player in the Under Armour All-American Game, where he caught eight passes for 70 yards and a touchdown. He helped Lutcher capture the Class 3A state championship in 2008.

Lewis is a physical specimen of a wide receiver at 6-foot-3, 205 pounds. Like Landry, who played linebacker and wide receiver, Lewis played defense and offense. While St. James was a run-heavy team that did not supply Lewis with as many receiving opportunities as he might have gained in other systems, Lewis still shined for the Wildcats as their top deep threat, recording 21 receptions for 596 yards (28.3 yards per catch) and five scores.

“I never thought I’d be in this position,” said Lewis of the LSU offer. “I didn’t always get the opportunities to do a lot of the things that (other receivers) did. I just looked at myself as the underdog. I’m excited. My family is excited. I’ve always dreamed of going to LSU.”

Hutson, Destrehan’s top offensive lineman, is on his way to Ole Miss. At 6-foot-4, 295 pounds, he played left tackle primarily while seeing spot duty at guard and center for Destrehan.

Hahnville saw the biggest signing class, seeing four football players and two softball players move onto the next level.

Ensminger will go on to play at Southeastern after starting two seasons at quarterback for the Tigers. He threw for 25 touchdowns, 2,207 yards and only five interceptions as a senior.

His top target, Howard, moves on to Memphis after a strong senior season. At 6-foot-2, 190, Howard is expected to begin his collegiate career at safety.

Kelly will play at Jackson State next season. The mammoth offensive guard was a force in the running game at 6-foot-3, 380 pounds.

Ben Taylor will move on to play at Nicholls after finishing his career with All-State honors in Class 5A.

Webre and deBruler signed to play at Spring Hill College after leading the Hahnville softball team to the school’s first ever appearance in the state championship game in 2010.