ACHS Bulldogs hungry for the playoffs

Troy LeBoeuf
The backfield of quarterback Javon Yarbrough (left) and running back Jamar Barber (right) looks to be productive in 2016. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

The 2015 football season for Ascension Catholic did not go as planned as they finished with a 3-7 record and missed the playoffs.

Narrow defeats to St. John and 3A Kaplan sealed the Bulldogs’ fate as they were left out of the 16-team Division IV select bracket.

“Our team has put that behind them and worked extremely hard in the offseason to prepare for the 2016 season,” second-year head coach Drey Trosclair said. “We finished 17 or 18 in the power rankings and got left out”.

ACHS didn’t lose many seniors, however, one of them was all-everything Kaleb Winchester.

“Kaleb was the heart and soul of our team—plus a threat to score every time he touched the ball,” Trosclair said.

Winchester will be playing basketball at Westmoreland College in Pennsylvania.

The Bulldogs will run their spread offense again and base out of the 3-3 defense. Troscalair will be looking for leadership from his senior class of eight players.

QB/LB Javon Yarbrough returns as a three-year starter and will be responsible for lining everyone up. “Javon played running back and strong safety last year, but will run our offense and move to linebacker. We are expecting big things from him,” Trosclair said.

Seniors Kebori Hunter and Jacoby Stewart are two-year starters that will play several positions on offense. Both have good speed and are athletic. Hunter will play corner on defense, and Stewart will play free safety.

“They have gotten stronger, and with the basketball background, they can jump,” Trosclair said. Hunter is coming off a 28-point performance at the state track meet in the jumps, where he was selected field MVP for the runner-up Bulldogs in Class A.

Other seniors expected to play key roles are WR/SS Dillon Vice, SS Cameron Capone and OL/DE DJ Giroir.

“Giroir is a returning all-district and honorable mention All-State performer, our best lineman last year,” Trosclair said.

Seniors Romell Lavigne and Alex Trosclair will provide depth on both sides of the ball.

Other expected offensive starters are sophomore running back Jamar Barber, sophomore wide receiver Rodney Blanchard, junior tackle Robert Lemann, junior center Charlie Gianelloni, freshmen guards Will Blanchard and Nick Hilliard.

“Jamar takes over in Winchester’s spot and has talent. He played JV only last year, and we think he can do some nice things. Our offensive line will be young with one senior, but they have all gotten stronger,” Trosclair said.

Others expected to contribute on offense are lineman Jacob Matirne (soph), John Demanuelle (junior)—plus receivers John Mire (soph) and Alex Hebert (soph).

Freshman running back Jai Williams (son of ACHS all-time leading rusher Germaine “Juice” Williams) will play as well.

The tight end will be sophomore Dillion Davis. When the Bulldogs utilize a fullback, look for junior Bubba Gautreau, who backs up Yarbrough as QB.

The defense should be much improved due to several players returning and more depth. The defensive front will be led by Davis, Hilliard and Giroir.

“Dillion and DJ both return up front and can be disruptive for us. We need younger players to step up at the nose and backup the ends,” Trosclair said.

Those players include Alex Gros( soph) and Lemann. The linebackers will be led by Yarbrough, Gautreau and Williams.

“Bubba has to step in at the mike for 100-tackler Cole Amedee, who graduated,” Trosclair said. Backups at linebacker expected to contribute are Alex Cedatol (soph), Blanchard (freshman) and Parker Hales (soph).

The secondary should be a strength for ACHS as they return Hunter and Blanchard at corners. Hebert played a key role at corner and returns. Cameron Capone played safety in several games last year. New starters in the secondary include Mire at safety, with John Broussard (soph), Nick Milano (soph), Barber (soph), Eric Simon (freshman) and Dorian Barber (freshman) providing depth.

The kicking game will be in good hands with Rodney Blanchard, as he will be relied on to punt and kick. Returning punts and kicks will be Barber, Hunter, Williams and Mire.

“Our schedule remains very challenging with CHSPC, CCMC, Dunham and Kaplan as non-district games,” Trosclair said.

District 6-1A returns the select and non-select state champs in Southern Lab and Kentwood, respectively.

“I imagine it can’t get more challenging than that with the two state champs, plus our rival St John, East Iberville, White Castle and Ascension Christian,” Trosclair said.

Remaining hungry after missing the playoffs last season will be key. The players know what is expected. The question is will the Bulldogs return to a winning way. Only time will tell.