Locals earn numerous Class 2A All-State nods

Published 12:04 am Saturday, December 19, 2015

RESERVE — Riverside Academy has never won a Louisiana High School Athletic Association title in football, but it’s not for a lack of trying.

The Rebels made their fourth trip to the finals in 2015, their first in 15 years after going 8-1 in the regular season and earning the No. 1 seed in the Division III playoff bracket.

Then the team rode an 11-game winning streak into the Superdome before falling to Notre Dame, 13-3. Riverside coach Bill Stubbs, who spent 10 years as a private businessman before being lured back to the sideline four years ago, has been selected the Class 2A Coach of the Year by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association.

A pair of Rebel players was named to the All-State team, along with a pair of Rams from West St. John.

Notre Dame finished a perfect 15-0 to win the Division III select schools state championship, its fifth state championship overall and the first since 2009. The Pioneers’ success was, in large part, due to their superb defense, which allowed 50 points all season. Senior defensive back Hayden Bourgeois, a 5-foot-11, 190 pound senior was the leader of that defense, with 64 tackles, 5.5 of those for losses.

Kinder, which won the Class 2A non-select state championship, was led by quarterback Welles Cooley. He has been named the Outstanding Offensive Player.

The 6-2, 185 pound senior went into the final game with 1,011 passing yards and 10 touchdowns and 1,115 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns. He also played defense, recording 41 tackles and three interceptions.

Notre Dame placed a total of five players on the team, including Bourgeois. Jacob Vicknair, a 5-10, 230 pound senior center is the lone representative on the offense.

On the defensive line are Paul Guidry, a 6-3, 285 senior who had 69 tackles and five sacks, and Trey Vautrot, a 6-1, 225 senior who had 9.5 sacks, 18 hurries, 50 tackles and 16.5 tackles for loss. Linebacker Shea Zaunbrecher, who was the Outstanding Player in the state championship game, had 64 tackles, 12 tackles for loss nine sacks.

The receivers are West St. John’s Jabari Walters (73 receptions, 1,226 yards, 12 touchdowns), Welsh’s Brandius Batiste (6 catches for 971 yards and 15 touchdowns) and Newman’s Elbert Thomas (88 passes for 1,247 yards and 14 touchdowns).

The running backs are Pickering junior Taylor Johnson, who rushed for 1,719 yards and 25 touchdowns on 227 carries and Episcopal senior T.J. Wisham, who rushed for 1,886 yards and 23 touchdowns with three 200-yard games. Josh Pennebaker of Ouachita Christian was the first running back in school history to rush for more than 100 yards in every game. He finished with 1,902 yards and 24 touchdowns on 238 carries.

The offensive linemen are Caleb Gary of Welsh (6-3, 280, Sr.), Azaviar Carter of Pickering (6-3, 265, Jr.), Ouachita Christian’s Che Menning (6-2, 280, Sr.), Matt Ryan of Newman (6-3, 320 Sr.) and Notre Dame’s Vicknair.

Cameron Dantzler, a quarterback and kick returner for St. Thomas Aquinas, is the athlete.

He rushed for 1,901 yards and 26 touchdowns and passed for 1,381 yards and 11 more scores. He also had two interceptions, returning one for a touchdown.

The place kicker is Riverside’s Tyler Gauthier, who was 32 of 34 on PATs in the regular season. He kicked a school record 52-yard field goal in a win against Country Day.

Along with Notre Dame’s big guys, the defensive linemen are Ed Alexander of St. Thomas Aquinas (6-3, 330, Sr.) and Leroy Roddy of Northeast (6-1, 320, Sr.).

Roddy recorded 13 sacks.

The linebackers are Zaunbrecher, Garrick Gray of Welsh (158 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, three sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles), Malcom Roach of Madison Prep (128 tackles, 14.5 assists, 12 tackles for loss, two interceptions five forced fumbles, 20 hurries) and Riverside’s Evan Veron (109 tackles, 47 assists, 27 caught behind the line, nine sacks, five forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, four interceptions).

The defensive backs are Jared Rider of Kinder (10 interceptions), Chanse Slyvie of Calvary Baptist (108 tackles), West St. John’s Jamal Walters (12 interceptions) and Notre Dame’s Bourgeois.

Kinder’s Raul Barrera is the punter with a 40.1 yard average.

Kaylan King of Sterlington is the return specialist. He had 19 kickoff returns for 665 yards and 12 punt returns for 372 yards and three touchdowns.