Bulldogs seeking improvements during spring

Kyle Riviere
Running back Jamar Barber has established himself as the Bulldogs' top running back this spring. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

The Ascension Catholic Bulldogs just wrapped up their first week of spring practice, and no one’s more enthusiastic than second-year head coach Drey Trosclair.

“I’m excited about our first whole week; it was a good start,” Trosclair said. “We got a little banged up. We probably have four or five guys that are going to be out for the rest of the spring, but other than that, we had a great first week."

In Trosclair’s first season, the Bulldogs went 4-6 and missed out on the playoffs. It was the first time they failed to reach the postseason in four years.

Coach Trosclair thinks that his team’s success in 2016 will hinge on them getting stronger. Luckily for the Bulldogs, he thinks this year’s team has made strides in that area.

"I think our strength is going to be our toughness. I think that's one of the best things I can say about our guys,” Trosclair said. “I talked to them yesterday and I asked them, 'How many times last year did we physically out-match our opponents?' They said, 'We didn't, Coach.' I said, 'Exactly. That's my point.' So, in order for us to be successful, we're going to have to out-physical somebody and be tougher than them.”

One challenge the Bulldogs will face this season is replacing many of their starters from last year. The spring has been a perfect time for Coach Trosclair to get a look at the guys that will be filling their shoes.

“In the spring, you like to evaluate what those younger guys can do, because at the middle-school level, it's a whole lot different than going against the bigger boys at the high-school level,” Trosclair said. “I’m excited to evaluate those guys, and I’m also excited to see the guys that didn't necessarily play a lot last year step up in roles now that they're sophomores, juniors and seniors.”

One area that will require lots of evaluation is the quarterback position. Ascension Catholic lost a two-year starter in D.C. Mattingly. Though, second-team QB Javon Yarbrough returns after getting plenty of snaps last season.

"We have a three-man race right now between Javon Yarbrough, Bubba Gautreau and John Miro. Nobody has the lead right now, but I like to do that to keep it competitive and see who really wants it and who's going to step up into that role,” Trosclair said.

One of the toughest losses for the Bulldogs will be Kaleb Winchester. The electrifying Winchester was the Swiss army knife of the team.

He was a first-team All-Parish cornerback on defense. In special teams, he was a first-team All-Parish return man, and on offense, he was a second-team All-Parish running back.

The Bulldogs will certainly miss his big-play ability, but Coach Trosclair thinks Jamar Barber will fill in admirably.

"Jamar Barber was ineligible last year after transferring. He sat out his year; he had a great year in JV. Now that he has done that, he has really stepped up into that starting running back role on this football team,” Trosclair said. “He's going to replace Kaleb Winchester in a lot of things you guys saw Kaleb do last year--whether it be out of the backfield or in the slot.

“He has the potential to be a really special kid, and if he keeps his head on straight and keeps working hard like he is, I don't see why he couldn't reach his potential."

Ascension Catholic will conclude what has been a very productive spring this Saturday when they play an intrasquad scrimmage. The scrimmage will be at 10:30 a.m., at their practice field.

"For three or four nights before Monday, I didn't sleep well because I was excited. I can't wait to work with these guys and try to turn them into better football players,” Trosclair said. “The rest of my staff feels the same way. We go in after practice and talk about how excited we are to be back in football. It feels like the season just ended, and now, we're already back for spring. I'm just excited about the challenges ahead."