Slew of parish football players make All-State

Kyle Riviere
Ascension Catholic senior running back Jamar Barber made All-State honorable mention. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

We've seen the all-district, All-Parish and All-Metro teams. Now, it's time for All-State.

Just recently, the Louisiana Sports Writers Association picked their All-State squads for each classification, and nine players from Ascension Parish made the cut.

In addition to the athletes, East Ascension head coach Darnell Lee earned a huge honor as he was selected the Class 5A Coach of the Year.

This is the third such honor Lee has received since the end of the season. He was also named the Parish Coach of the Year, along with the Baton Rouge area All-Metro Coach of the Year for Classes 4A and 5A.

In his third season coaching the Spartans, Lee led a team that was replacing much of their roster from the previous year--including most of their offensive line, most of their secondary and their most valuable player in Jimel London.

London was a first-team all-district cornerback on defense. He was also a lethal return specialist, and he rushed for over 1,000 yards on offense.

Despite having to replace so many key contributors, East Ascension still went 9-1 during the regular season and finished as runner-up in District 5-5A.

In the playoffs, they reached the state quarterfinals for the first time in nearly two decades, and they came an eyelash away from reaching the semifinals.

Lee had four of his players make the LSWA Class 5A All-State team. Athletes from no other parish school made that squad.

Senior defensive lineman Deshon Hall was an honorable-mention selection. Hall came up with 12 sacks this season and was named the Parish Defensive Player of the Year.

Another defensive stalwart that joined him as an honorable-mention selection was senior defensive back Jaqunn Mitchell.

On offense, junior lineman Falepule Alo was honorable mention after transitioning from guard to center this season.

East Ascension's final All-State selection came on special teams. As a first-year starter at kicker, senior Alberto Ontiveros did well enough to be named All-State honorable mention. He made 11 field goals during the regular season.

There were five Ascension Catholic players that made the LSWA Class 1A All-State team.

There is a good reason so many Bulldog players are earning accolades this offseason. They just finished up another highly-successful year that ended with them playing in the Division-IV state championship game.

Ascension Catholic went 9-1 during the regular season, finished as runner-up in District 6-1A and reached back-to-back state title games for the first time since 1991 and 1992.

Leading the charge was junior running back Jai Williams, who rushed for more than 2,000 yards. He set new records in the state championship game for yards (262) and carries (40).

Williams made the All-State first team.

He has also been named the Parish Offensive Player of the Year and District 6-1A MVP.

Joining Williams on the All-State first team was junior offensive lineman Nick Hilliard. Also, senior Rodney Blanchard made the first team as a punter.

Williams, Hilliard and Blanchard were the only Ascension Parish players to make first-team All-State.

Two Bulldogs were honorable-mention selections.

Senior running back Jamar Barber made the team as he joined forces with Williams to help the Ascension Catholic offense average 46 points per game during the regular season.

Also, senior linebacker Andrew Landry made honorable mention. Landry helped lead a defense that surrendered just 13 points per game during the regular season.