Gators perform well at spring game

Kyle Riviere
St. Amant's defensive line will be anchored this year by Elliot Turner (No. 90). Photo by Kyle Riviere.

The St. Amant Gators tasted their first game action since their first-round playoff loss to state champion Acadiana on Tuesday evening as they traveled to Denham Springs.

After being forced to endure a 30-minute lightning delay and a steady downpour throughout the game, the Gators left Livingston parish with a performance they could feel good about heading into the summer.

When the two teams put their first-team units on the field and moved the ball from the opponent's 25-yard line, St. Amant scored four touchdowns opposed to Denham Spring's one.

"I was pretty pleased with our spring. We got nine out of our 10 days in," Gator head coach David Oliver said. "I like where we're at as a football team after offseason conditioning and spring practice, but we still have some work to do over the summer and the fall to get ready for our season opener against Live Oak."

A few of the starters that St. Amant will be counting on once the season begins made statements on Tuesday night.

Hayden Mallory will be stepping in at quarterback in place of two-year starter and all-district QB Tyler Dixon. Mallory showed some impressive flashes late as he hooked up with all-district receiver Briggs Bourgeois for three scores.

On the ground, all-district runner Nathan Taylor looks to be the feature back in 2015-16. He came through with the Gator first-team unit's final touchdown of the game.

"I feel like our kids are bigger and stronger. We've put some kids in new positions, and a lot of them showed up today," Oliver said. "I thought Anthony Wilson played big. I thought Hayden Mallory had some rough spots early on but really stepped up and played well at the end.

"We know what we've got with a lot of these guys, but there are some guys where we'll have to evaluate on film. I like the team we have and if we continue to work hard and improve over the summer and fall, we're going to have a pretty decent club."

The Gator defense played extremely well throughout. After giving up a touchdown on Denham Springs' first try, they stepped up and kept the Yellow Jackets' first-team unit out of the end zone for the rest of the contest.

They lost many of their top senior leaders--like linebackers Caffre Jackson and Dylan Stephens and safety Alex Derouselle.

However, Elliot Turner returns as the anchor of their defensive line, and Wilson is ready to step up at linebacker.

"I like the way our defense attacks. I think our special teams are going to be pretty good with Briggs Bourgeois kicking, Landon Boudreaux snapping and Beau Trabeau at punter," Oliver said. "I like our skill-position guys, our running backs. I have four or five really good ones that I like.

"I think we're going to have to sure up both interior lines. We have some people that we're having to move in and out on the offensive line, so it's still a work in progress, but I think we'll be ok. On defense, we're also moving some players in and out, so those are the areas that we're going to look to improve."

Last season, the Gators got off to rough start as they fell to 3-4 but after a thrilling 28-24 win over Woodlawn, they caught fire. They ended up finishing the regular season on a three-game winning streak and making the playoffs.

They also made school history as they beat both parish and district rivals East Ascension and Dutchtown in the same season for the first time in school history.

Six all-district players were lost from that team--including two of their top three receivers in Justin Duhon and Marquise Hampton.

However, despite losing so many weapons, Coach Oliver was very pleased with some of the execution he saw in the Gators' spring clash with Denham Springs.

"I thought that our offense really started to produce in the red zone. Briggs [Bourgeois] had three touchdowns; that's where he's most dangerous," Oliver said. "Nathan Taylor broke about a 15-yard touchdown run, so I thought that, that was our best execution over the whole day."

St. Amant will get a chance to fine-tune their execution in the passing game next month as they join archrival East Ascension in the Adidas State 7v7 Championship Series at Spartan Stadium.