Gator spring ends with dominant showing in scrimmage

Kyle Riviere
K.J. Franklin scored four touchdowns for the Gators in their spring scrimmage against Woodlawn. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

The St. Amant Gators concluded their spring on Thursday evening with an impressive outing against Woodlawn.

The scrimmage was highlighted by big plays on offense courtesy of K.J. Franklin and some stingy play by the Gator defense.

“It was promising from what we saw today. I thought our guys executed pretty well,” St. Amant head coach David Oliver said. “We were able to put the ball into the end zone; there were very few mistakes. I like the way we’ve been able to come around on the defensive side of the ball. We’re trying to find a way to get some depth for our two-way guys.”

Franklin is one of those two-way players. Over the last two years, he has done a little bit of everything for the Gators.

Just last season, he was a first-team all-district defensive back. He also played a little running back, complimenting 1,500-yard rusher Cade Nelson. In addition, Franklin has been a return specialist in his time with the Gators.

After losing more than 30 seniors from a year ago, Franklin will be one of St. Amant’s most experienced returners. With Nelson gone, he will be looked upon to make big plays for the offense.

That’s exactly what he did on Thursday. The senior put on a show as he scored four touchdowns.

Three of those scores came on the ground. They were highlighted by a 75-yarder up the middle and a 50-yarder down the sideline.

Franklin also caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Kaleb Thompson.

“Obviously, K.J. Franklin made a bunch of big plays—especially early on,” Oliver said. “We need to find a way to rest him, because he does so much for us on defense. I was pleased with how Reggie Simms came off of the bench and played.

“I thought it was a good start to the offseason. We had 10 good days of spring. Every year, we’re replacing 30-35 seniors; we’re doing it again this year. So far, the results are pretty good.”

One of those seniors the Gators are replacing is all-district starting quarterback Halen Miller. With the spring now complete, it’s still uncertain who will be pulling the trigger for the St. Amant offense in 2018.

“It’s boiling down to senior Kaleb Thompson and junior Lathan Bourgeois,” Oliver said. “They both bring a little something different to the table, and they both have their moments. That’s going to be an interesting battle that plays out over the course of the summertime. This may be the year we just have to play two.”

Each quarterback threw one touchdown pass in the spring game. Thompson had his touchdown strike to Franklin, and Bourgeois closed out the contest with a 20-yard score to Javin Augillard.

Augillard is a player Oliver said had a great spring. He is another two-way player that will split time at receiver and free safety.

Other players that have stood out are receiver Jo Williams, cornerback Darius Smith, linebacker Aaron Delaune, defensive lineman Zacheus Thomas and returning all-district offensive lineman Beau Gremillion.

“I think the offensive line is starting to grow. Beau Gremillion is starting to turn into a leader. He’s the only returner we have on that unit,” Oliver said.

Though, Oliver did say that the Gators are still looking for answers on special teams. St. Amant lost starting kicker Hector Rodriguez.

“We’re going to have to figure out the kicking game,” Oliver said. “There are parts in that, that we’re going to have to replace. That’s going to be a big push during the summer and the early part of fall camp.”

Still, even with the loss of a heavy senior class, Oliver thinks his team has the potential to be competing for another District 5-5A title.

“I think we have a chance to have a good team,” Oliver said. “I think a lot of things have to happen from now and Aug. 31, in the weight room, on the field and in the meeting rooms. I do think we have a chance to be successful. I think we have the right kids. We just have to make sure we put them in the right positions.”