- Feature Story
- Game Preview
- George Becnel
- September 11, 2017 - 9:20pm
For those with short memories, yes, the Lutcher Bulldogs have gotten off to a 0-2 start before.
At times, in fact, it proved not to be such a bad thing.
The last time Lutcher got off to a 0-2 start, the Bulldogs reached the Class 3A semifinals in 2004. A year earlier, the Bulldogs also lost their first two games on the way to a state championship.
While it wasn’t a 0-2 start, Lutcher opened 1-4 in 2013 and lost three-in-a-row after getting off to a 3-0 start in 2014 but a youthful Bulldogs squad established the foundation for state championship teams in 2015 and 2016.
“It’s happened more than people think,” Lutcher coach Dwain Jenkins said. “I’ve been involved with it twice as (an assistant) coach in 2003 and 2004. In (2014), Lutcher started a lot of young guys like Jontre Kirklin as a sophomore, Al’dontre Davis a sophomore and Dylan Recotta was freshman and Sully Laiche was here.
“That season didn’t go as planned early on and got better and better, and obviously, the results paid off the next two years with two state championships.”
Coming off a narrow 13-7 loss to rival St. James, the Bulldogs need a win over visiting Marksville to avoid the three-game losing streak of the 2014 Lutcher squad.
On the Bulldogs’ way to a second-straight state title a year ago, Lutcher built a 28-0 halftime lead before holding off Marksville 35-28 in the Class 3A quarterfinals.
Of all the playoff teams Lutcher faced last year, Jenkins said he walked off the field against Marksville with more respect for coach J.T. Dunbar’s Tigers than any other postseason opponent.
In the playoffs, on the road, to be down 28-0 and those kids continued to fight and scratch and claw back. Yeah, we made some mistakes and gave them some opportunities but you don’t see that pretty often. You get down pretty big in a playoff game on the road and you know it’s your last chance, those teams will pack it in and feel sorry for themselves but his kids didn’t,” Jenkins said.
Marksville returns numerous players off of last year’s quarterfinal playoff team but did lose some top players such as quarterback Qway Mingo to graduation.
The Tigers (1-1) are coming off a 50-12 loss to Many. Like Lutcher in the Bulldogs’ first two games this season, the Tigers were hampered by special teams mistakes.
“Against Many, Marksville took the early lead but the game fell apart on them on special teams. They had consecutive that were blocked or had bad snaps that gave Many the ball twice inside the 5 and once inside the 20. It was 7-7 game and the next three times Marksville had mistakes on the punt team and the game got away from them,” Jenkins said.
Taking over for Mingo at quarterback is sophomore Daniel Miller.
“He played against us last year as a freshman at cornerback,” Jenkins noted.
The receiving corps consists of Deon Prater, Jacob Young and Fabian Jacobs, all seniors, along with sophomore Braydon Flores.
“They play spread but they do also get into some unique formations. They get in single-wing and do some things there,” explained Jenkins.
Prater is a big-play guy for the Tigers.
“They have been getting him the ball underneath and letting him run and make some plays,” Jenkins said.
Trajan Alexander and Kirk Carmouche platoon at running back for Marksville.
The Tigers’ offensive line features three seniors and two juniors.
Marksville gives opponents different looks on defense, according to Jenkins.
“They do some unconventional things that we have to be prepared for. It’s not all the time that you will see a five-man Bear front where they cover all five of your offensive linemen, especially when playing against a spread offense. They will do that and the three guys in the middle will all crawl and it really makes sure you offensive linemen can’t get to the next level and can’t pull. They really take out your three interior linemen and really give their linebackers opportunities to make plays,” Jenkins said.
Chance Bonnett, a down lineman last year, has moved to linebacker for the Tigers. Gavin Laird is an undersized defensive lineman while defensive end Shawn Williams also sees some time at running back.
“Another guy who seems to be stepping up for them is Damion Jacobs as a cornerback. He’s a really good-sized kid,” said Jenkins.
Lutcher produced a number of big plays for touchdowns. Jontre Kirklin connected with Tariq Belvin on scoring tosses of 83 and 99 yards. Kirklin added a 49-yard touchdown and Jacoby Williams had a 45-yard touchdown run.
Those types of big plays have been missing so far in 2017 and the situation is exasperated with the loss of Williams to a shoulder injury.
“The success we had on them last year was all big plays – something we haven’t been able to generate at all this year,” said Jenkins.
The 2017 Bulldogs, Jenkins said, just need something good to happen to them.
“So far, we really haven’t gotten that big break. We haven’t created a turnover on defense. At some point we have to get a big play on offense or a turnover on defense or a big play on special teams to light a spark,” the Lutcher coach said.