Final analysis

Kyle Riviere
Parish Defensive MVP Justin Harris. Photo by DKMoon Photography.

This was my second year putting together the Weekly Citizen’s All-Parish football team.

Like last season, there was plenty of talent to choose from, and it was like splitting hairs when trying to decide which players would occupy the first and second teams, but I enjoyed the process, none the less.

Whichever players made the team, they should be quite proud of their accomplishments. With a parish as rich in talent as Ascension, it’s saying something to be considered one of the best players in the area.

St. Amant had the most selections on the team with 15.

Quarterback Hayden Mallory was not only first-team quarterback but the parish’s Offensive MVP.

The senior threw for 2,119 yards and 31 touchdowns, while completing 66 percent of his passes. His precision was a huge factor in St. Amant’s offense being nearly unstoppable at times. They averaged 45 points per game during the regular season.

Head coach David Oliver was named the parish’s Coach of the Year.

What St. Amant accomplished this season goes beyond what they did on the field.

The St. Amant community was hit hard by the August flood.

The school was flooded. Athletic facilities were flooded. A third of the players on the football team had their homes flooded.

Oliver was not spared. His home was flooded as well.

So, in addition to having to rebuild his home and sift through the chaos, he had to get his team ready to play football.

Despite the hardships, the Gators went 9-1 and reached the state quarterfinals.

Also notable for St. Amant, Briggs Bourgeois made the first team in three different capacities. He was a first-team wide receiver, kicker and return specialist.

Defensively, East Ascension featured two of the best performances in the parish.

It was tough having to decide who should be Defensive MVP—Spartan defensive end Justin Harris or linebacker Justin Daniels.

I ultimately gave the nod to Harris. The 6-foot-6 former Central Florida commit was a constant disrupter on the defensive line. If he wasn’t sacking and pressuring opposing quarterbacks, he was tracking down running backs in the backfield.

In East Ascension’s first-round upset win over Ruston, Harris had an amazing six sacks.

Daniels was a first-team selection at linebacker. He saved his best for last. As a senior, he finished with 109 tackles, 5.5 sacks and two interceptions.

Two of the most pleasant surprises this season came from the running back position. Both East Ascension’s Ralph Williams and St. Amant’s Cade Nelson emerged as two first-team All-Parish tailbacks.

Williams had the unenvious task of replacing a great back in Josh Bates, but as a first-year starter, he did just that. In their playoff win over Ruston, he had over 200 yards rushing.

Nelson wasn’t even the starter at the beginning of the season, but when Mark Darby went down with a knee injury, he filled in beautifully. He ended up rushing for over 1,100 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Dutchtown had their share of issues on the field this year, but they kept up their tradition of fielding a solid secondary.

Missouri commit Adam Sparks made the All-Parish first team at defensive back, along with safety Cameron Crawford.

Crawford is best known for his talents on the Griffin baseball team—where he’s a Nicholls commit—but as a first-year starter for the Dutchtown football squad, he was tremendous in 2016.

The season also saw some great performances from the Donaldsonville area. Both Donaldsonville and Ascension Catholic bolstered eight selections on the All-Parish team.

Most notably for the Tigers, Tahj Brown was a first-team selection at linebacker. With Daniels graduating, he becomes the top parish backer heading into 2017.

Ascension Catholic only had four selections on the All-Parish team last year. In this season’s 6-4 campaign, they doubled that number.

Defensive lineman D.J. Giroir made the first team, along with defensive back Jacoby Stewart.

Running back Jamar Barber was a second-team selection at both running back and return specialist.

Ascension Christian was often forgotten when it came to postseason awards.

Though the Lions won a school record eight games this season, they were ineligible to make the playoffs due to them not playing a full district schedule. This also led to their players not making the All-District 6-1A team.

Four Ascension Christian players made the All-Parish squad.

He didn’t get the attention Mallory got at St. Amant, but the performance of Lion quarterback Peyton Bahlinger in 2016 cannot be ignored. The fact that he was a receiver prior to this season makes it all the more impressive.

Bahlinger passed for 2,369 yards and 30 touchdowns. He also rushed for 763 yards and 13 scores. All four marks set new single-season school records.

He finished as the third-leading passer in the state.

Also, wide receiver Ian Carter deserves tremendous recognition. Carter finished as the leading receiver in the state with 1,219 yards and 13 touchdowns.