Junior-laden Gators ready to step up

Kyle Riviere
Junior Briggs Bourgeois will head into 2015 as the Gators' top receiver and kicker. Photo by DKMoon Photography.

The St. Amant Gators will have plenty of fresh new faces taking the field for them this year, but their goal remains the same.

They want to break through and take home the District 5-5A championship on their way to a lengthy playoff run.

At the start of the 2014 campaign, the seasoned Gator squad appeared to be one of the top contenders in the district as they raced out to a 3-1 record. However, after a three-game losing streak, they were in danger of missing the postseason.

They were able to salvage the season with a three-game winning streak.

This included wins against both East Ascension and Dutchtown. It was the first time in school history that they had beaten both teams in the same season.

Unfortunately for the Gators, the 6-4 record wasn't good enough to earn them a high seeding. They were forced to go on the road and play eventual champion Acadiana in the opening round of the playoffs.

They were quickly eliminated from the hunt for a championship.

Now, a new hunt begins.

This year, the Gators will have to replace six all-district performers. Most of those losses were from their defense--where they have lost eight starters.

These losses include leaders like linebackers Caffre Jackson and Dylan Stephens and safety Alex Derousselle.

Three starters return in defensive ends Garret Stephens and Elliot Turner and linebacker Cade Roddy.

Xavier Anderson and Jordan Averett look to step up in the linebacking corps as big-time run-stuffers.

Offensively, the Gators lose six starters--including two-year starter at quarterback Tyler Dixon. They also lose two of their top three receivers in Marquise Hampton and Justin Duhon.

However, they do bring back two huge weapons in all-district wideout Briggs Bourgeois and tailback Nathan Taylor.

Taylor looks to be the feature back this season after splitting time with Richard Williams last year.

In addition to being a viable weapon for the Gators in the passing game, Bourgeois will also give them a big advantage in special teams. He was a second-team all-district kicker last season.

St. Amant will also return three starters on the offensive line in Wyatt Walker, Josh Banks and Zack Hebert. They will need to play well as they protect a first-year starter at quarterback in junior Hayden Mallory.

Mallory played very well in parts of the Gators' spring game against Denham Springs and in the Adidas State 7v7 Championship Series at East Ascension last month.

"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," St. Amant head coach David Oliver said. "I like our skill-position guys, our running backs. I have four or five really good ones that I like."

Coach Oliver thinks that his mature and talented junior class is his team's major strength heading into the season.

For the past few years, the Gators have had senior-laden teams but this year, the juniors will be expected to lead the charge.

"I like where we are as a football team. We still have a long way to go, but I like how our kids are working." Oliver said.

The Gators will once again have to battle parish foes East Ascension and Dutchtown and defending champ Catholic for the district title. Broadmoor has been added to the district this season.

"The 2015 Gators will look to continue their three-year streak of being a playoff team," Oliver said. "With only 20 seniors on the roster, we will be counting on a huge contribution from our junior class that is 50 strong and hungry for some Friday action. See you at 'The Pit.'"