FOOTBALL

Griffins will be young and hungry in 2016

Kyle Riviere
kriviere@weeklycitizen.com
All-district running back Charles Davis will return to lead the Dutchtown ground attack. Photo by DKmoon Photography.

Dutchtown experienced quite the turnaround in 2015, but the same kind of transformation will be tough to duplicate this season.

The Griffins will be faced with the unenvious task of replacing 14 all-district players.

In 2015, the team also headed into the year with drastic uncertainty. They featured a broad range of youth and inexperience.

Much of it started at quarterback with senior Jared Sparks taking over as a first-year starter. Sparks quickly helped wash away any doubts of his potential as he played his way into being named first-team all-district and second-team All-Parish.

As a result of his stellar play, Sparks went on to sign with Purdue.

Much of his play-making ability at quarterback sparked the Griffins to a terrific rebound season in 2015. They improved from 4-6 to 7-3.

In doing so, they won a share of the district title, and they reached the second round of the playoffs, where they were eliminated by eventual state champion Zachary.

Unfortunately for the Griffins, many of the key players on that playoff squad have graduated—including Sparks.

In addition, Dutchtown has also lost most of their receiving corps. Cornelius Washington, Averee York (Arkansas Baptist signee), Jaylon Carlin and Caleb Ricca all earned spots on the all-district team in 2015, but all four will be gone this season.

In the running game, the Griffins lose a Northwestern State signee in Fitell Bolding. Bolding was also first-team all-district and first-team All-Parish.

Although, the Griffins won’t be totally green in that department. They will bring back a very physical and experienced runner in Charles Davis. Davis was second-team all-district last season.

On the offensive line, the Griffins will be short of LSU signee Lloyd Cushenberry and Mylik Williams. Tackle Tim Turner will return to anchor the front.

The defensive side of the ball may be where the Griffins were hit the hardest. They lose seven all-district performers that helped them only surrender 18 points a game last year.

In the secondary, they lose Minnesota signee and District 5-5A Defensive MVP and Parish Defensive MVP Coney Durr, along with Blinn Community College signee Rickey Thomas.

Fortunately for the Griffins, they will return one of the best defensive backs in the area in recent Vanderbilt commit Adam Sparks—Jared’s younger brother.

Sparks has been ranked by Scout.com as the fourth-best cornerback prospect in the state for 2017.

The linebacking corps was hit hard as well with all-district players Sean Pruet and Terrence Lymon gone.

The Griffins will lose Ryan Trahan, but overall, the Dutchtown defensive line looks to be one of their strongest areas in 2016.

Tackles Kyle Sarrazan and Devin Mitchell and defensive end Byron Guillory all return. Sarrazan showed impressive flashes to start 2015, but he was forced to miss most of the season with a leg injury.

Matt Dixon will be doing the kicking for the Griffins, and they will return an all-district and All-Parish punter in Cadon Story.

Head coach Benny Saia said that the biggest challenge of 2016 will be “replacing 35 seniors with 14 seniors returning. Our younger players will have to grow up in a hurry. We also have a very challenging schedule with three teams that won state championships last year.”

Saia’s right. The Griffins’ schedule will be brutal in 2016.

The pre-district tilt will feature a season opener at Lutcher—the 3A state champion from last year. The Griffins lost to the Bulldogs at home last season.

They will also play Central and Zachary—the 5A state champions from 2015. Dutchtown lost to the Broncos twice last season.

The District 5-5A gauntlet will feature tough parish clashes with East Ascension and St. Amant and a home game against Catholic of Baton Rouge—the Division-I state champs from last season. Though, the Griffins did crush the Bears, 42-7, during their regular-season clash.