EA looking to break through with new coach

Kyle Riviere
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
East Ascension will rely heavily on senior Brandon Hogan, a returning first-team all-district player.

Over the last few years, District 5 has been a two-horse race between St. Amant and Dutchtown. East Ascension is hoping to change that in 2021-22.

The Spartans have a new head coach this season, and they’re hoping that change will spark a big turnaround for the program that will result in a district championship, along with its first playoff victory in three years.

During the offseason, East Ascension saw the departure of longtime head coach Michael Zanco. Zanco was replaced by Alex Edwards. This will be Edwards’ first high-school head coaching job.

Edwards is a native of Liverpool, England. He came to the United States back in 2017.

Edwards has been coaching soccer since 2010. He’s worked for Challenger Sports, Ascension Flight Soccer Club, Louisiana ODP and LA Galaxy OC.

Edwards is currently the assistant tournament director for the Baton Rouge Soccer Club.

He takes over an East Ascension squad that lost many of its top players from last year. That includes all-district performers Aleks Mondragon and Stephen Kline, along with Luis Castillo and goalkeeper Landy Arciniega.

The two other Spartans that made the all-district team last year were Brandon Hogan and Diego Ontiveros.

Edwards is counting on Hogan’s skill as well as his leadership this season. 

“We’re looking for Brandon to have a huge impact in his senior year, not only with his experience on the field but his many years of experience at EA,” Edwards said. “Brandon, along with fellow captain and senior Myles Gautreau will be pushing the Spartans as far as they can go this season, and internally we know what our goals and targets are for this season.”

East Ascension will lack widespread starting experience, but Edwards doesn’t think that will be a detriment to his team, as long as the effort is there.

“It takes all 11 players on the field to make an impact, and we will be looking for all of the squad to contribute in each game, regardless of grade,” Edwards said. “It’s 11 versus 11 for 80 minutes, and what we do in that time will reflect the outcome of competition, and if we stick to our roles and responsibilities, we put ourselves in the best possible situations.”

The Spartans will be trying to improve on the 6-7-3 record they finished with last season. East Ascension went on to get eliminated by Sulphur in the opening round of the playoffs.

“We remain focused on being the best we can be and making each and every game one we can win,” Edwards said.

East Ascension will have a tough schedule this season. In addition to parish foes St. Amant and Dutchtown, the Spartans will also face University, Zachary, Baton Rouge High, Dunham and Episcopal.

Edwards said that his team is just focused on getting better each contest.

“Every player knows that without each other, our targets and goals cannot be achieved,” Edwards said. “Playing to our strengths and exploiting weaknesses in the opposition is the basis of any successful team, and we aim to do that one game at a time. We will not get too far ahead of ourselves.”