2020 football season changed direction for EIHS, coach says

Staff Report
The first-ever appearance in the Class 1A state semifinals has shifted the East Iberville Tiger football team (seen here in recent action) to the task of maintaining a winning culture, head coach Justin Joseph said.

The loss of 17 seniors from a high school football program would seem like cause for alarm, but East Iberville head coach Justin Joseph is far from worried

The first-year head coach engineered a groundbreaking season that ended 8-2 after an 18-13 loss to Grand Lake in semifinal action. It marked East Iberville’s first-ever appearance in the semifinals, one year after then-coach Ron LeJeune led the Tigers to the first-ever quarterfinal showing in school history.

The 2020 Tigers parted ways with a senior class that included wide receiver Jallon Fontenot, quarterback Carlysle Joseph, running back Future Ford, cornerback Christopher Boudreaux, tight end Cedric Alexander, defensive end Travis Brooks, outside linebacker Jaden Williams and senior running back Skylar James, among others.

Joseph does not foresee problems keeping players or attracting new talent to the squad.

When a team does well and builds a winning program, everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon, he said.

“Word of mouth will get those kids in the hallway,” he said. “Some may have been hesitant about the program or the risk of injuries, and some of the parents who didn’t trust football because of COVID will send their kids out now, so the future is bright about East Iberville football.

“I’m excited for the season we had, the senior class we graduated and I’m even more excited about what’s to come,” Joseph said.

It’s a far cry from the dismal stretch when the program eked out only one win between 2012 and 2015.  

Statewide attention as the No. 2 seed in the state playoffs – the highest ranking of a team this in any classification for the post-season run – should also help keep the program firing on all cylinders.

“Everyone I’ve talked to has told me that this is the first time we’ve had that kind of attention,” Joseph said. 

Players and coaches can rightfully claim they changed the culture for the program, but that’s only the first step in achieving a longevity of success.

In fact, success ushers a bigger challenge, he said.

“Now it’s about building upon the culture that we’ve changed,” Joseph said. “It’s something that started with Ron LeJeune, whose job was about changing the culture -- now I have the task of building it. The job doesn’t get any easier.”