EA breaking in young talent during the spring

Kyle Riviere
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
East Ascension will face Denham Springs at home on Saturday for its spring game.

Every year, East Ascension graduates plenty of talented starters, but the Spartans keep winning. That’s because there are plenty of other talented players ready to take their place.

This season, that talent is still there. But head coach Darnell Lee admits that his 2022 squad will be one of the youngest he’s coached since being at East Ascension.

The Spartans began their spring practice last week, and they continue to prepare for a spring game, which is scheduled for this Saturday morning at home against Denham Springs.

One huge question mark this season for East Ascension will be the quarterback position. The Spartans lost starter Troy Dunn.

“The last three-year starter we had at quarterback was Jason Wakefield when we went to the quarterfinals. We’re gonna have a first-year starter at quarterback again this year,” Lee said. “Chris Carcisse is the starter. Jaylon Lee is rotating with him, and we’ve got a couple of sophomores as well. But we’re going to be leaning heavily on the running game with Walter Samuel and Jacorey Mitchell. We moved Aiden Joseph from nose guard to center. We’ve had some bright spots, but it’s a work in progress.”

Lee said that these spring reps are crucial for the young QBs.

“We’re putting a lot of pressure on them now because if they’re going to break down, we want that to happen in spring,” Lee said. “We just need them to be able to execute the offense and be good decision-makers. Don’t put us in bad situations. We’re trying to eliminate the bad snaps. But for the most part, it’s been getting better every day.”

Fortunately for the young quarterbacks, they’ll have plenty of weapons around them.

“Brennon Thompson is special. Jacorey Mitchell is having a great spring,” Lee said. “Jackson Chiasson is really smooth. He did a good job on JV last year, and he’s been earning a spot. Joseph Hobdy is back. He beefed up to 230 pounds and will be tight end/H-Back. And we still have the old man, Zhavier Jupiter. So, we have the skill. We have all the pieces; we just have to get it together and build some chemistry.”

East Ascension’s running game should be one of the best in the parish. The Spartans return two all-district backs in Samuel and Mitchell.

“We’re going to have to run the football,” Lee said. “We have good enough athletes on the perimeter. You have to run to set up the pass, and I think we can put some packages in to get the ball in Brennon Thompson’s hands, as well as Zhavier Jupiter and Jacorey Mitchell. Hopefully, that can loosen up the box. That’s what we did down the stretch last season. That opened up some lanes for Walter Samuel and Jacorey Mitchell. We have to build around those running backs.”

In 2021, East Ascension went 5-3 during the regular season and won a first-round playoff game for the sixth straight year.

The Spartans’ season ended with a close second-round loss to eventual state champion Zachary.

This year, East Ascension will have new competition in District 5-5A. Catholic, Woodlawn and McKinley have left the league. They’ve been replaced with Denham Springs, Live Oak and Walker.

“I can see the parity,” Lee said. “There’s no Catholic. I didn’t mind playing them because I thought it got you ready for the playoffs, but it feels like this new district is going to be like playing Dutchtown and St. Amant every week. It’s some real good football teams that are well coached with a strong community base. I think it’s going to be a good district.”