Bailey, Barbier believe Tigers can take next step
Donaldsonville has gotten better in the win column and gone deeper into the playoffs every year since head coach Gary Adkins arrival five years ago.
Along the way, they have claimed a district championship and had several players sign college scholarships but this season Adkins will rely on a thin senior class led by Laine Bailey and Joshua Barbier.
“I like to think we have won more than we have loss,” Adkins said. “Success is in the eye of the beholder. I think we have a long way to go but we definitely have the program going in the right direction and we just have to keep it going. That is one of my biggest concerns with this group. To understand their responsibilities to keep it going.”
Chronologically, the next step for the Tigers would be advancing to the Class 2A semifinals after winning the District 7-2A championship last season and falling to St. James in the quarterfinals to finish 11-2.
“If we do everything we are supposed to do today than we have an opportunity for those things to happen,” Adkins said. “We respect our opponents but we don’t care who is on the other side of the ball. We are not interested in who we are playing. When the ball is snapped, do the right thing and the best you can and all that other stuff will take care of itself.”
Donaldsonville returns only five seniors after losing 20 from a year ago, three who signed, but Adkins has confidence in Bailey and Barbier to lead a young talented cast of Tigers.
“If you are not losing good players then you don’t have a good program,” Adkins said. “We are losing some good players, however, we have some more that have gone through the junior varsity system and we have some that have been playing since they were freshmen, so I think we are in pretty good shape.”
Bailey steps into the role of quarterback to direct Donaldsonville’s triple option after waiting in the wings behind Roy Sam and Dean Werner. In a backup role, Bailey rushed for 109 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries last year but has compiled a 24-4 record as the starting quarterback on the junior varsity level.
“Let me tell you what makes Laine so good,” Adkins said. “He has gone through the ranks and if anybody ever was ready it is him. We have never had to throw him into the fire like we had to do with others. He knows the system. He knows the offense as well as I know the offense and I think because of all his experience and all the games he has played in, I think it will make him a very good quarterback. In matter of fact, he is probably the best passer I have ever had.”
Barbier transferred from Central before his junior season, worked his way into the starting lineup at tackle, and helped the Tigers rush for over 4,000 yards last year earning All-District honors. He moves to guard this season.
“I can tell you what, I like the way he plays,” Adkins said. “He plays football the way it is supposed to be played. He is very physical. He is smart. He has gotten a lot bigger. I think he is going to be a really good player for us on offense. Every down, he plays wide open.”
Adkins said Bailey’s personality fits a leadership role. That was evident when Bailey allowed his teammates to eat before him after the Tigers won LSU’s 7 on 7 passing tournament in July.
“We have watched him play through the years and every year he has progressed and gotten better,” Adkins said. “He just truly loves to play the game. He has a lot of fun with it. He loves to compete. When it is all said and done, the thing I am going to like about Laine the most is that he was so patient coming through the system. He never argued or fussed about playing time. He understood his role. The legacy that he will leave will be his patience and now the offense is his.”
Bailey and Barbier have accepted their roles as leaders.
“You have to wait your turn sometimes,” Bailey said. “Now I have to take charge and show what I have been holding back. Follow the rules of the coaches. That is a real leader.”
“You have to be able to stand up and take charge of the team being a senior,” Barbier said. “That are not many of us so we have to work extra harder than most other teams.”
Having played on the junior varsity level together, the two seniors are confident in each others play.
“He has been one of my best lineman since I came through,” Bailey said.
Barbier even goes far enough to credit Bailey for his success.
“The way I see it, I don’t have a job if it wasn’t for him,” Barbier said. “What I do is so he can do what he does. That is just how it is. Coming from another school, I had to come in and work real hard to gain my spot but I deserved it..”
Bailey said he expects the Tigers to more physical and have more options to spread the ball to this year and Barbier said along with a change to a 4-3 cover 2 on defense, the offensive line is honing its blocking technique more.
Neither sell each other short when they say a trip to the Louisiana Superdome for the Class 2A state championship is what they see in the cards.
“Our coaches motivate us a lot,” Bailey said. “That brings pride to the field. I anxious and ready for it to get started. We are trying to take our fans to the ‘Dome this year. That is something we have never had before.”
“Last season is in the past,” Barbier said. “I have waited all my life to get to my senior year of football and now that it is here, I don’t want it to go. It is the best feeling you can have. To me, making it to the ‘Dome is the top. It is something we have got to do. Another big thing for me is beating St. James. If we meet them in the playoffs again this year, we got to do it.”