It's another year, another bus-load of seniors St. Amant must replace.
It’s another year, another bus-load of seniors St. Amant must replace.
They haven’t been too bad at it the past two years. In that time, they’ve gone a collective 18-2 during the regular season, won a share of the District 5-5A championship and earned victories in three playoff games.
Now they’ll try to do it again in 2018.
The roster from last season has been overhauled. The Gators will return just two starters on offense and four on defense.
All-district standout Beau Gremillion will be the only returning starter on the offensive line. Besides tight end Noah Hebert, the entire starting receiving corps is gone.
Most importantly, St. Amant will be without two of 2018’s best parish players in quarterback Halen Miller and running back Cade Nelson.
The two spearheaded a Gator offense that averaged 33 points per game during the regular season.
St. Amant finished the year with a 9-1 record for the second straight season. This included a victory over defending district champion and eventual Division-I state champion Catholic.
They also beat archrival East Ascension in the regular-season finale to lock up a share of the league title.
The Gators reached the second round of the playoffs, before being ousted by Airline.
In his first season as a starting quarterback, Miller put up impressive numbers and ended up earning first-team all-district and All-Parish honors.
Nelson was the leading rusher in the parish as he piled up more than 1,600 yards and 26 touchdowns.
With Miller gone, two quarterbacks went head to head during the spring. Head coach David Oliver said that this QB battle will likely carry over to the regular season.
“It’s boiling down to senior Kaleb Thompson and junior Lathan Bourgeois,” Oliver said. “They both bring a little something different to the table, and they both have their moments. That’s going to be an interesting battle that plays out over the course of the summertime. This may be the year we just have to play two.”
To replace Nelson, Oliver is looking for sophomore Reggie Sims to step up. Also, all-everything senior K.J. Franklin will get his share of carries.
Franklin is a first-team all-district cornerback, but he has also been used as an explosive offensive weapon for St. Amant the past two seasons.
During the Gators’ spring game, Franklin scored four touchdowns.
Another player that may be used two ways will be Javin Augillard. Augillard plays both free safety and wide receiver.
Oliver also expects Caleb Mayers and Broc Becnel to be reliable targets at wideout.
The Gators had one of the best defenses in the area in 2018, as they held opponents to just 13 points per game, but they’ll also have to replace many key players—including Jacob Furlow, Colten King, Reed Babin, Jacolby Landry and Ben Parker.
Luckily for them, they’ll return one of the top defensive players in the parish in lineman Johnny Johnson. Johnson had 13 sacks in 2017, and was an All-State selection.
Joining him on the line will be returning starter Brandon Bell and a new starter in Zacheus Thomas.
Along with Franklin, the Gators will have Darius Smith back in the secondary.
St. Amant will also have to replace their kicker after starter Hector Rodriguez graduated this past spring.
Despite the inexperience of his roster, Oliver sees potential.
“I think we have a chance to have a good team,” Oliver said. “I think a lot of things have to happen from now and Aug. 31, in the weight room, on the field and in the meeting rooms. I do think we have a chance to be successful. I think we have the right kids. We just have to make sure we put them in the right positions.”
The Gators will officially open their season at the Pit on Aug. 31, when they host Lake Area New Tech.