It's the second year under head coach Drey Trosclair, and he's expecting his Ascension Catholic Bulldogs to take a big step forward in 2016.

It’s the second year under head coach Drey Trosclair, and he’s expecting his Ascension Catholic Bulldogs to take a big step forward in 2016.

Trosclair was hired last season after parish coaching legend Doug Moreau decided to retire after leading the Bulldogs for three seasons. It was Trosclair’s first crack at being a head coach.

With his arrival, in came changes for the Bulldogs. They transitioned from a double-slot, option-style offense to a spread, no-huddle attack that pressured defenses with an up-tempo pace.

The offense flourished at times—scoring at least 28 points on five separate occasions, but defensively, the Bulldogs had their struggles. They surrendered at least 30 points six times.

Much of Ascension Catholic’s plight was the result of a brutal schedule. With the formation of the new District 6-1A, the Bulldogs faced six 1A playoff teams—including eventual Class 1A and District IV state champions Kentwood and Southern Lab.

They also played a 2A playoff team in Dunham and 3A playoff squad in Kaplan.

That same gauntlet will face them in 2016, but Coach Trosclair said that he thinks his team will be more prepared this time around.

“We have some comfort now, and the culture is starting to change,” Trosclair said. “The guys are starting to adapt to what the coaching staff wants them to do and what we want them to be and the vision we have for them. So, I think it’s going to be a very important second season for us. We just want to get better each day. If we do that, in the long run, good things will happen.”

The Bulldogs have their eyes set on turning around a 4-6 finish in 2016 and making a return to the playoffs for the first time in two years.

It certainly won’t be easy. Though they return 14 starters, the Bulldogs will be forced to replace many of their top players from last season.

The biggest piece that will be missing is the versatile and electrifying Kaleb Winchester. The all-district star was first-team All-Parish as a defensive back and return specialist and second-team All-Parish at running back.

Coach Trosclair thinks Jamar Barber can fill in admirably. Barber showed great promise at tailback during the spring after sitting out 2015, due to his transfer to Ascension Catholic.

The Bulldogs also lost a two-year starter at quarterback in D.C. Mattingly. They will have plenty of options in filling the void.

Javon Yarbrough saw a multitude of snaps at quarterback last season. Yarbrough can also play running back, safety and linebacker on defense.

Both Bubba Gautreau and John Mire are also viable options for the Bulldogs at QB.

They’ll have some weapons to choose from in the passing game. Jacoby Stewart, Kebori Hunter and Dillon Vice all return at receiver.

All-district and All-Parish guard David Giroir will be back to anchor the offensive line.

Defensively, the Bulldogs will lose all-district and All-Parish linebacker Cole Amedee and starting defensive lineman Collin Landry, but they will return massive sophomore Dillon Davis to spearhead the defensive front.

Coach Trosclair said that he thinks his team will have to make strides in their physical toughness to succeed in 2016.

“I think our strength is going to be our toughness. I think that’s one of the best things I can say about our guys,” Trosclair said. “I asked them, ‘How many times last year did we physically out-match our opponents?’ They said, ‘We didn’t, Coach.’ I said, ‘Exactly. That’s my point.’ So, in order for us to be successful, we’re going to have to out-physical somebody and be tougher than them.”

From top to bottom, Coach Trosclair said that he loves how his team is constructed.

“I think we have a lot of young guys that are going to be able to step up into big-time roles for us as far as eighth-graders that are going to be freshmen and freshmen that are going to be sophomores,” Trosclair said. “Our senior class is an eight-man class, so we’re going to depend on them heavily.

“Obviously, to simulate speed, you have to count on your seniors to be the bulk of your program. I have good things to say about all four of our classes.”