Five storylines for the 2019 parish football season

Kyle Riviere
Dutchtown will be looking to get back on track this season after going 5-5 in 2018. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

The high-school football season is now rapidly approaching. We’re only about a month and half away from jamborees.

With the impending season, there are some interesting storylines that fans should keep their eyes on in 2019.

Coach Saia Returns

Head coach Benny Saia built the Dutchtown football program from the ground up and turned it into a perennial contender. In 15 years with the Griffins, he won more than 100 games. However, after the 2016 season, Saia decided to resign and take a break from coaching. But when Ascension Catholic and head coach Drey Trosclair parted ways at the conclusion of the 2018 season, Saia got the itch to get back to prowling the sidelines. This year, he’ll be leading a Bulldog squad that is coming off of two straight appearances in the Division-IV state title game. Double-digit starters were lost from those two state runner-up squads, but Saia will have All-State running back Jai Williams at his disposal, as well as heavily-recruited offensive lineman Nick Hilliard.

Williams is back for senior campaign

The 2018 football season belonged to Ascension Catholic running back Jai Williams. Williams was the workhorse for the Bulldogs. He put the team on his back and carried them to the Division-IV title game. Williams rushed nearly 3,000 yards and more than 30 touchdowns. He set the Louisiana state championship game record for most rushing attempts with 40. He also set the 1A/Division-IV title game record with 262 yards rushing. Williams was named first-team All-State and the Parish Offensive MVP. He now prepares for his senior season. Although he lost most of his starting offensive line, he will still have first-team all-district performer Nick Hilliard leading the way.

EA tries to continue momentum

The 2018 season was one of the best the East Ascension Spartans have had in recent memory. Under third-year head coach Darnell Lee, the Spartans finished the regular season with a 9-1 record. That was good enough to make them the District 5-5A runners-up. East Ascension went on to reach the state quarterfinals for the first time in over a decade. There, they came just an eye lash away from upsetting John Ehret and reaching the semifinals. The Spartans lost a host of all-district starters from that team, but they still return a very talented nucleus. They’ll once again be strong on the defensive line, and offensively, they have weapons galore. Receiver Steven McBride returns, along with a loaded backfield that includes Ethan Bagwell and Kendall Washington.

Gators and Griffins try to catch up to Spartans

While East Ascension took a huge step forward in 2019, both St. Amant and Dutchtown fell behind. The Gators went 7-3, but they failed to win a playoff game for the first time in four years. Dutchtown finished 5-5 and was also eliminated in the first round of the postseason. Both teams lost to the Spartans during the year. They’ll be looking to get back on track in 2019, but it won’t be easy. Each team loses significant contributors, and each team will have to break in new starters at quarterback. All three parish rivals will be competing in District 5-5A. Defending league champion Catholic will be the preseason favorite.

New year, new districts

Three parish schools will be competing in new districts in 2019. Both Ascension Catholic and Ascension Christian will be moving from District 6-1A to District 7-1A. The biggest change will be the exclusion of both Southern Lab and Kentwood. Also, the Lions will be facing district opponents this season. They will meet parish foe Ascension Catholic for the first time in three years. Also, Donaldsonville will make the move from District 10-3A to District 9-3A. Archrival St. James will make that move with them. However, the rest of the league will be filled with new rivals for the Tigers. These teams will be Lutcher, Patterson, E.D. White and Berwick.