Ascension Christian ready to start something new

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
First-year Ascension Christian head coach Josh Puryear. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

It's a brand new year for Ascension Christian--which means their minds are no longer on the troubles of the past, only their next opponent.

"We're just trying to start something new. We want to erase the past and start over," first-year head coach Josh Puryear said.

He won't hear any arguments from his players. It's been a rough last few years for the program.

Just last season, they almost had to cancel the year due to low numbers. They were finally cleared to start practice at the last minute when the roster swelled to 24, but head coach Brian Kinchen decided to step down.

After scrambling to find a new play-caller before the jamboree, teacher and administrator Bret Shelton took over the reigns.

With such hectic uncertainty, the Lions suffered through a tumultuous season that culminated in a winless record. It only contributed to a now 21-game losing streak.

However, that streak is now a thing of the past. Puryear is only focused on what his team can bring to the table this year.

"We have to change our mentality. Things haven't gone well in the past; we've had a rough last couple of years but if you start winning, you can start building momentum," Puryear said. "And when that happens, guys will want to come out and play. We just have to change our mentality--starting at practice--and prove that we're winners and not losers."

His hungry squad will return seven starters--including two players that were forced to sit out last season.

Kagan Carter is a transfer that Puryear thinks can now step in and be a real play-maker for his team, and he's also very excited about another versatile transfer in Conner Holliday.

"He's a transfer that will be eligible to play this year. He's a fullback, wingback and linebacker. He's got some good size, he's strong and he's quick," Puryear said.

Other players that will be key are Seth Gaudin and offensive lineman Dillon LeBlanc.

The Lions will operate out of the double-wing, flexbone package offensively. It is still uncertain who will be setting up under center. There is an ongoing quarterback battle between Kaleb Bledsoe and Darrin Landry.

Regardless of who wins that competition, Puryear is very pleased with the attitude and mindset of his guys heading into the year.

"Some of the guys have more experience heading into this year, and they're looking forward to our out-of-district schedule," Puryear said. "The schedule is competitive, but we're going to be able to play schools that are the same size as us, and they have rosters with as many guys as we have."

This will definitely be a big help for Ascension Christian, but Puryear knows their district schedule will be brutal with the likes of West St. John, Ascension Catholic and White Castle.

"It's a challenge. We have a lot of guys that go both ways, so we've been trying to keep that competitive atmosphere at practice, and we try to be competitive each year and with each other," Puryear said. "We're going to try to take things week by week and one game at a time."

The Lions will not play a fall scrimmage, but Coach Puryear is trying to get them into a jamboree with Ecole. Their first game is scheduled for Sept. 6 against Lafayette Christian on the road.