Gators’ engaging spring productive

Peter Silas Pasqua
St. Amant’s Grady Miles fights for extra yardage during the Gators’?May 6 pratice. St. Amant practiced 14 out of a maximum 15 times this spring.

ST. AMANT – While a lot of teams were struggling to get in as many practices as they could over the three weeks allotted for spring training, St. Amant fell just one shy of the maximum three days before the conclusion of the last day.

“I thought spring practice was extremely productive,” St. Amant head coach David Oliver said. “We got 14 practices in. I felt like we took a great leap forward and really got a handle on the fundamentals and schemes. We should have a much better team in the fall.”

The Gators wrapped up spring training with an intrasquad scrimmage May 13 well ahead of schedule before the schools’ graduation ceremonies.

“We ended on a very positive note,” Oliver said. “We are healthy and confident with a lot of momentum heading into the summer.”

With 16 starters returning from a year ago, it was hard for Oliver to single out any players that stood out.

“There were a bunch of players that stood out.” Oliver said. “We got plenty of experience returning. We just felt like everyone took a giant step forward. Team chemistry is good and there were a lot of solid performances on both sides of the football.”

St. Amant returns two quarterbacks with starting experience in junior Jaylin LeBlanc and sophomore Tyler Guillory.

“I think they both had nice springs,” Oliver said. “Last year, we went through five quarterbacks before we finally got down to the end of the season. Some quit or where switched to different positions. This year it is a luxury to have two kids coming back with starting experience for us. The second time teaching the system, I think they both improved a tremendous amount and there is no doubt they are solid football players that can help us in a variety of ways in every game in an array of phases.”

The Gators enter their second year running the triple option. Senior running back Tre` Vaughn leads a backfield that includes Matt Marrero, Grady Miles and senior fullback Nelson Jointer.

“It does takes some repetition and time to learn,” Oliver said. “I feel like last year we played pretty poorly early when we were just learning how to walk. When we started playing better, we were in the meat of the schedule and overmatched a few times. Although we were playing better, we were still not having the desired result. We are looking forward to a great summer and coming out to fall camp with a positive start to the season. We feel like we are going to be a better football team and paid the price to get better. I think the fans are going to see an improved product out on the field.”

Perhaps St. Amant’s most experience comes up front on both sides of the ball where the Gators will rely on size to wear other teams down.

“We will try to come straight at people some and then we will try to fool them some with deception but there is a reason there are weight classes in boxing and I feel like that on both sides of the football we are a little larger across the front lines and over the course of a 48 minute game, if we keep leaning and pounding on people, we will be able to wear some people down,” Oliver said. “We have done the job in the weight room. We have guys ranging from 245 to 295 pounds and I think that is going to help us out. They are fairly athletic guys too, so we are excited on both fronts and ready to get into another season.”

St. Amant completely revamped their pre-district schedule adding Covington, Hammond, Plaquemine, Bonnabel and Sarah Reed. 

“There are going to be some competitive games early in the year,” Oliver said. “All of those teams on the schedule, although different from last year, are still very competitive. Hopefully we can get into a little bit of a groove early in the season and get some momentum going. We wanted to get some 5A teams on the schedule. Our district has had a representative in nearly every boys major sport state championship in the last couple years so if you can compete in our district, you can compete in the state playoffs and state tournaments. That is a plus if you can play in that kind of district. If you can build your program to win district, then you can compete for state honors.”

The most important thing for the Gators now is to continue to get better.

“That is what our goal was in the spring and we felt like we got what we needed out of it,” Oliver said.