Nine Spartan football players sign with colleges

Kyle Riviere
From left to right, Deshon Hall signed with Louisiana Tech, Shaivonn Robinson signed with Southern Arkansas and Markquell Stewart signed with McNeese State. Photos by Kyle Riviere.

It was another special signing day at East Ascension High on Wednesday morning as nine Spartan football players inked their letters of intent to continue their careers at the college level.

“This is a special group, as is every year," East Ascension head coach Darnell Lee said. "This group has done something that has never been done in the history of the school. They’re the all-time winningest single-season record holders. We won 11 games this season, and that’s never been done before at East Ascension High School. "We made it to the quarterfinals for the first time in nearly two decades, falling two minutes shy of making it to the semifinals, which would have been the second time in the history of the school."

As a result of such great play in 2018, a bevy of Spartans signed on Wednesday. This group included: Deshon Hall, Markquell Stewart, Shaivonn Robinson, Donrell McKenzie, Jaqunn Mitchell, Nick Massey, Derrick Smith, Cooper Ducote and Tahj Ballard.

Hall was the headliner from the class. The 6-foot-2, 240-pound defensive end had a monster season as a senior, despite fighting constant double-teams.

He finished with 53 tackles and 12 sacks en route to being named the Ascension Parish Defensive MVP, along with being named first-team All-District 5-5A and honorable-mention All-State.

After committing to Louisiana Tech, Hall received enticing offers from schools like Wisconsin and Colorado. He even got a visit from new Kansas head coach Les Miles, who offered him a scholarship for the Jayhawks.

But in the end, Hall decided to honor his commitment and sign with Louisiana Tech.

Stewart signed with McNeese State. The Spartan wide receiver was an all-district performer as a junior, but he was forced to miss nearly his entire senior year after sustaining a season-ending knee injury.

Massey also went down with a serious knee injury. Before that setback, he was a starting defensive back, and he also saw some carries at running back.

Massey signed with Mesabi Range Community College. Mitchell and Smith signed there as well.

Mitchell and Smith both earned first-team all-district and All-Parish honors this season. Mitchell played defensive back, and he was also a very dangerous return specialist. He made honorable-mention All-State.

Smith was a starting inside linebacker for the Spartans.

Robinson signed with Southern Arkansas. As a wide receiver, Robinson made first-team all-district three years in a row.

Also, Cooper signed with Milsaps College. Cooper was a starting offensive lineman for East Ascension this season. He was named both second-team all-district and All-Parish.

Rounding out East Ascension's signees were McKenzie and Ballard. McKenzie, an outside linebacker signed with Arkansas-Monticello. Ballard, a defensive back, signed with Arkansas Baptist.

"This group of guys were sophomores when I got the job," Lee said. "I remember pulling them out of the weight room and pulling them into the lobby of the field house, and they were serious. You have groups that have leaders. You have seniors that step up, but they were sophomores that stepped up and challenged our seniors. They made our seniors better.

"This year, they were seniors, and the attitudes, the way they carried themselves, the way they fought on Friday nights, we saw that it all paid off in the end. These guys reciprocated that energy and challenged our sophomores as well. We’re gonna miss them."