TRIPLE TROUBLE: Dunn, Turner, Wright aim to cap Tiger careers with state championship
DONALDSONVILLE – Donaldsonville enters a new era under first-year head coach Terance Williams but the Tigers return three seniors who have been mainstays in the program since they were freshmen and have experienced success on all levels.
“These guys, especially these seniors, they are looking to get to the Dome. That is our on-field goal. It is going to be a change for them with a different system offensively and defensively and almost a complete overhaul of the coaching staff.”
Williams takes over for Gary Adkins, who led the Tigers to a record of 36-19 in five years making the Class 2A playoffs the last four seasons and advancing as far as the quarterfinals in 2007.
Williams served as Leesville’s head coach for the last two seasons.
Three players who played integral roles for the Tigers in their last three playoff campaigns and return for their senior season or running back Bryant Dunn, linebacker Akiee Turner and lineman Dwight Wright.
“Just like everybody else, it has been an adjustment,” Williams said. “This is not the first time I have come into a program and understand there is going to be adjustment for some guys that have had success on the field but they have bought in.
All three admit the transition to the new coach, a spread offense from the triple option and a 4-3 defense from a 4-4 has been difficult to adjust to as the Tigers move into a new district this season that features Capitol, Clinton, University, Pointe Coupee Central and Episcopal.
Wright said Williams doesn’t mess around and gets straight to the point.
“When he first got here, I really didn’t want to hear anything he had to say,” Dunn said. “Seriously, it took me a month just to buy in because I thought he was joking. At the 7 on 7 camp, Les Miles came talk to us personally. I don’t even know where he came from. He just popped up. That is when I knew he was serious.”
“He doesn’t care how good you are,” Turner said. “He just wants to make you better as a player and a student. Not only on the field but also in the classroom. Some players are not used to that and might not want to play for him because of the way he is running the team when they are used to having their way but that is just discipline.”
Dunn, Turner and Wright will look to be leaders on a team that features 15 seniors but a host of underclassman.
“At first, it starts in weight room because if I am not working then the younger guys will see that and ask why should they,” Dunn said. “On the field, if I am walking then everybody else will walk so I have to run.”
“We are like the big brothers of the group and they look up to us in everything we do,” Turner said. “If we do something wrong they see it. In the heat when it is hot out there, we don’t want anybody bending over because that is a sign of quitting and we don’t need that when we are trying to make it all the way. The last couple of years, discipline has been a problem so we are trying to get that straight.”
Wright says being a leader starts with doing the right thing.
“We are trying to get everybody to buy into a new system,” Wright said. “If we follow the right procedures and do what it takes to be a winner we can bring a championship back to our city.”
Dunn was the District 7-2A offensive MVP last season after rushing for nearly 1,600 yards and 16 touchdowns, following a season where he rushed for 900 yards and made all-district as a sophomore.
“I like the offense way better this year,” Dunn said. “People last year knew I was getting the ball. They would call it from the sidelines. This year, you don’t know who is getting the ball. You have so many people to spread it out to. They won’t just be keying on me.”
Turner, an all-district linebacker since he was a freshmen, led the Tigers with 83 tackles and recovered four fumbles in the Tigers’ district championship clinching victory over St. John alone.
“It is going to be different but I feel comfortable in the defense we are in because I know the players on defense got my back,” Turner said.
Wright, an all-district performer since he was a freshmen also, started on both sides of the ball last season helping the Tigers rush for over 3,500 yards.
“The offensive line was nice but defense wins ball games so I am going to do whatever it takes to get a championship,” Wright said.
They have played with each other since they were youngsters in the Donaldsonville Redskins Youth Football League and are also the core of a group that have advanced to the quarterfinals in both football and basketball in their high school careers.
“This is our pride,” Dunn said. “This group has been together for a long time and I don’t want to leave them. We have to learn to fight through adversity, too. We haven’t done that before. We just quit in the past.”
“I just like being out here with my boys,” Turner said. “As a group, we have been together since we were small and we are tired of getting close and losing. We want to go all the way. We hang our heads too fast and we are not going to do that this year.”
“We are always almost there but keep falling short,” Wright said. “We still haven’t got pass that hump. This is our senior season and we have been together so long we will try and use that chemistry to win a championship. We have to fight to the end.”