State champ QB Jontre Kirklin stepping into LHS leadership role

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, August 10, 2016

(Editor’s note: This story has been edited since publishing to correctly spell quarterback Jontre Kirklin’s name. L’OBSERVATEUR regrets the error.) 

LUTCHER — Some high school coaches might go through their entire careers without coaching a Division I football player.

Many never see one go off to the state’s flagship school, LSU.

Dwain Jenkins can’t say that.

Jenkins just spent three seasons at St. James High, where he coached one of the state’s best quarterbacks in senior Lowell Narcisse.

In December he hopped back across the river to Lutcher High School, his own alma mater, to replace his former coach.

There he inherited another future LSU player and stellar quarterback in senior Jontre Kirklin.

Narcisse and Kirklin are LSU commitments.

“I get joked on from a lot of other coaches,” Jenkins said. “They say, ‘You’re the only guy in the country who can go from one LSU commitment to another at quarterback. I guess there’s some things you can complain about, but that’s not one of them.”

Narcisse is the 6-foot-3, 220-pound dual-threat quarterback who had a slew of college coaches chasing him, even as he hobbled on crutches after tearing his ACL just before his junior year. He returned just in time for the playoffs to help the Wildcats make a run to the Class 3A state finals.

Kirklin is “the other guy,” Jenkins said, the 6-0, 170-pound quarterback who just led Lutcher to the Class 3A state championship in December over St. James, earning game MVP honors along the way. He finished with 2,257 yards and 35 touchdowns passing and another 1,081 yards and 17 touchdowns rushing.

“It’s natural to make those comparisons in everything we do and try to find what Jontre’s strength’s are and try not to typecast him based on what he did last year,” Jenkins said.

“He has to kind of grow into the offense.”

Jenkins said it was easy to see why Kirklin fell into the shadow of his highly-touted counterpart, but it wasn’t always easy for him to live there.

“I think he had a big chip on his shoulder last year,” Jenkins said. “Talking to the coaches, that was something that drove him last year, was all the success that Lowell (Narcisse) had his first two years and all the accolades that Lowell had going into the year. He was kind of the other guy in the parish. He kind of was forgotten, but he’s the guy coming back that was state MVP. He has a state championship.”

Kirklin said he and Narcisse are longtime friends.

“We have a great bond,” Kirklin said. “We go way back, playing football and basketball together. The competition has always been great, but everybody’s like family down here. You win, you win; you lose, you lose.”

This year will be a little different for Kirklin.

“I have the bull’s-eye eye on me this year,” Kirklin said. “I have to try harder than everybody else. I know he faced the injury, but this year we’ll be able to compete more and show everybody our talent.”

Jenkins said this year’s team is Kirklin’s.

“He still has things to prove,” Jenkins said. “He’s having to learn how to be a leader, and that’s probably the biggest difference between this year and last year. He didn’t have to be a leader. He could kind of go out there and play, because that role was on the defensive side with Sully Laiche, Ben St. Pierre and Tyler Williams. Those guys were really the leaders last year.”

This year will be a little different for Jenkins as well, who not only is back in his natural purple and gold and on his home turf, he’s got a new quarterback to mold.

“They’re very different types of quarterbacks with different skill sets,” Jenkins said. “There’s times you’d rather have Jontre because he’s got a little more break away ability, might be a little bit faster. Then there will be times you wish you had Lowell, because he’s 6-3 and 220 pounds and when you need one yard it’s easy to call that number. Really, the one thing they probably can be compared on is, they both can really throw a football.”