Parish teams compete in seven-on-seven tourney

Kyle Riviere
Donaldsonville's Tahj Brown makes a defensive play during the Tigers' loss to Lorranger. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

For the second straight year, St. Amant hosted the Airo Louisiana 7v7 State Championship Tournament, and both the Gators and Donaldsonville Tigers took part.

St. Amant reached the second round of bracket play, but they were eliminated by eventual runner-up East St. John. Donaldsonville was eliminated by Lorranger in their first bracket matchup.

This is the third year in a row that the Airo seven-on-seven state tournament has come to Louisiana.

In all three years, the event has been played in Ascension Parish. In its inaugural season in Louisiana, it was held at East Ascension.

St. Amant has always had a lot of success in the tournament. In 2014, they reached the Elite 8. Last year, they reached the round of 12, before losing to eventual semifinalist Landry Walker in overtime--a team that would go on to win the Class 5A state title.

In this year's event, the Gators stumbled in their last matchup in pool play as they were dominated by Terrebonne.

In their first game in bracket play, they bounced back with an exciting 27-26 shootout victory over District 5-5A rival McKinley.

In this game, first-year starting quarterback Halen Miller and receiver Tate Broussard were unstoppable. They connected for all four of the Gators' touchdowns.

Though, St. Amant's journey ended in the next round when they fell, 33-14, to East St. John.

"We have a lot of new pieces. In June, there is no such thing as winners and losers, it's winners and learners," St. Amant head coach David Oliver said. "Hopefully, we learn from these lessons today. We knew there would be growing pains with this team. It's better to have them in June and July than September and October."

Oliver did think there were some bright spots among his young and inexperienced squad.

"For the last two years, we've known who our team was going into these events, and we played fairly well," Oliver said. "Today, we were identifying potential guys that can fill those roles. I thought some guys showed up.

"I thought Tate Broussard had a great day at receiver, and I thought Halen Miller had his moments at quarterback. There were some other highlights. We're breaking in new corners. There were a lot of positives and some things we have to work on."

Unlike St. Amant, Donaldsonville heads into the season with many of their starters returning--including quarterback Jaylin Williams, running back Jemon Pleasant, receivers Ladarius Jackson and James Gipson and a Houston commit in middle linebacker Tahj Brown.

Like St. Amant, they lost their final pool play game. They dropped a close contest to McKinley.

Once bracket play began, they drew another tough matchup with Lorranger. With a 26-11 defeat, they were eliminated.

Their only touchdown of the game was scored when Williams connected with Pleasant out of the backfield.

The final four teams ended up being East St. John, Karr, St. James and St. Augustine. St. Augustine went on to claim the state title.

Those four teams will now go on to play the four semifinalists from the other 10 states competing in Airo tournaments to determine the national champion.

Though his team didn't take home a seven-on-seven state title, Coach Oliver couldn't be happier with the event coming to St. Amant and with the people that helped the school put the event together.

"This is huge for us," Oliver said. "I'd like to thank EATEL and the people that have helped us hold this, like Pelican Broadcasting, Debbie's Bridal, the Veron Sausage guys--they all partnered together, along with James LeBlanc. These people make this an important event. It's great for our kids and our community. I can't thank those people enough."