Gators wrap up spring with strong performance

Kyle Riviere
St. Amant running back Cade Nelson scored two touchdowns in the Gators' spring game against H.L. Bourgeois. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

Last season, the St. Amant offense was a finely-tuned machine that put up 45 points a game in a 9-1 regular season that saw them reach the state quarterfinals.

Many starters from that team have moved on, but in Thursday evening’s spring game against H.L. Bourgeois, the Gators showed that they’re still capable of lighting up the scoreboard.

Playing at the friendly confines of The Pit, St. Amant was able to reel off numerous big plays, and they ended the day with four touchdowns—three coming from their first-team offense.

"It was a good spring,” Gator head coach David Oliver said. “It was a chance for us to see some young guys that have proven that they can do it on Wednesday nights. We had an undefeated JV team last year, so we wanted to see if they could turn it into Friday activity. I think we made some progress, but we still have a long way to go."

St. Amant lost a two-year starter at quarterback in Hayden Mallory. Mallory was first-team all-district and Parish Offensive MVP last season as he threw for 2,119 yards and 31 touchdowns.

His backup last year was Halen Miller. Miller took all of the first-team snaps for the Gators on Thursday.

On St. Amant’s first offensive possession in the spring game, Miller completed a big pass to Tate Broussard.

This set up a 22-yard touchdown run by returning all-district running back Cade Nelson.

Nelson later scored on a 20-yard touchdown run, and Miller threw a 15-yard touchdown strike to Grant Alexander.

Coach Oliver was pleased with how his quarterbacks played over the course of the spring, but he sees plenty of areas in which they need to improve before the start of the regular season.

"They were a little up and down. They all have potential. They all have a chance to lead the football team, and they all made some mistakes that we wish we could change,” Oliver said.

St. Amant’s final touchdown was scored by basketball star K.J. Franklin. Franklin broke loose on a 50-yard touchdown run.

Another Gator that had a nice day was soccer star Hector Rodriguez. After serving as the backup kicker to Briggs Bourgeois last season, Rodriguez made some impressive plays at first-team receiver in the spring game.

As impressive as the Gators were on offense, the defense may have stolen the show.

The Gators didn’t allow a touchdown until the end of the spring practice, when the first-team offenses began to start drives from their opponent’s 20-yard line.

In addition to only giving up the one score, they forced four turnovers. They recovered two fumbles, and Jacolby Landry and Ben Parker both came up with interceptions.

"I like the way the front five or seven on our defensive front played with Brandon Bell, Johnny Johnson, Nick Furlow, Jacolby Landry, Reid Babin and Colton King. I think those guys have been playing tremendously,” Oliver said.

Coach Oliver said that this spring was vital for his team, after losing so many starters from last season.

"It's very important,” Oliver said. “We're still a long ways from where we need to be, but you're talking about getting execution, timing and assignments down. Once we re-teach that again in the fall, hopefully, we'll get guys in the right places and play a little faster."

There are some specific things Coach Oliver would like to see his team improve before the regular season.

"I'd like us to improve in the overall execution, the tempo we play at, ball security and open-field tackling. Those are the things that showed up today at this scrimmage."

Before the Gators begin their fall practice in July, they will host the Airo state seven-on-seven tournament next month for the second straight year. St. Amant made it to the quarterfinals of the tournament for the past two seasons.