SPORTS

SPRINGING INTO A NEW SEASON: St. Amant players, coaches ‘light years’ ahead second time around

Peter Silas Pasqua
St. Amant second-year head coach David Olivers works with an offensive line that returns three starters in practice Wednesday afternoon.

ST. AMANT - St. Amant head coach David Oliver believes the Gators will be a much improved football team in 2009. The experience gained last season along with the familiarity between coaches and players will do that.

“Teaching it through the second time is a lot smoother,” Oliver said. “Last year, we had a bunch of new coaches and a bunch of new kids. This year the expectations have been set and everybody knows what to expect. It has just been a whole lot smoother. We are light years ahead of where we were last year.”

Oliver enters his second season at the helm of the St. Amant football program and returns 17 seniors and 16 starters. The Gators finished 0-9 last season.

“We graduated 26 seniors total and we thank those seniors for their contribution to help lay the foundation for this current program,” Oliver said. “I think this year’s senior class will see the rewards for that and we are excited for the fall. We should have a much improved football team.”

Oliver, who played tight end at Northern Colorado, takes over the offensive line and says that may be the Gators’ strongest unit this season.

“I took over the offensive line and I am going to coach those guys,” Oliver said. “I think we have a chance to be real good up front on both sides of the ball. We are playing some kids two ways and cross training them in certain spots. Across the front line we could be fairly imposing if we can get everybody going in the right direction. Our smallest guy is probably 260 pounds. It looks like we will have a chance to be imposing up front and lean on some people.”

The Gators return two quarterbacks with starting experience from last season in Tyler Guillory and Jaylin LeBlanc. St. Amant also returns Nelson Jointer at fullback and Tre` Vaughn and Matt Marrero at wing back. All-District wide receiver Chase Keller also returns.

“We feel like we have settled down the backfield situation that was so unsettled last year,” Oliver said. “We have a couple of quarterbacks with game experience coming back and we have nearly all of our backs back. We are just real excited on the offensive side.”

St. Amant was hit hard with graduation at linebacker and in the secondary but return the entire defensive line including All-District performers Marvin Martin and Justin Bumgardner.

“We did take some hits in the secondary and need some linebackers to step up,” Oliver said. “We loss some solid players and good kids but we have some young kids ready to play.”

The Gators practiced for the seventh time Wednesday after beginning spring last Monday. Schools are allowed 15 practices in a three-week period and Oliver hopes to get in as many as possible. A intrasquad scrimmage is tentatively scheduled May 16 at 9 p.m. at the Pit to conclude spring training.

Oliver said the Gators are currently dressing 82 players for spring practice after just getting baseball players with a few still in the track season and expects between 50-60 freshmen in at the beginning of the school year.

“We are excited, feel like our numbers are right where they should be and we are going to have a good, competitive football team,” Oliver said.

St. Amant's Nelson Jointer rushes.