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LHS faces different type of challenge at Marksville

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  • George Becnel
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  • September 13, 2018 - 1:29pm

File photosLike a year ago, a victory by Dwain Jenkins' Lutcher squad over the Marksville Tigers would give the Bulldogs their first of the season after an 0-2 start.

Lutcher’s 29-26 defeat at the hands of rival St. James may have been a thriller, but it still goes down as a loss for the Bulldogs.

“For a fan, it’s a great game to watch. For a coach, it’s not always a great game to be involved in,” Lutcher coach Dwain Jenkins said. “Unfortunately, a game like that – especially in a rivalry game – there is a lot of positive and good things that get overlooked but in the coaching world in which we live in and competitive athletics world we live in is a result-oriented business. At the end of day, that’s what matters in the opinions and minds of so many people.”

There certainly were some positives in the game.

“I think it was a game that showcases the importance of football in this school district and in the two communities. You had kids that played extremely hard on both sides of the ball. At the end of the day, you have to give credit where credit is due. It’s not easy to drive the ball 80 yards in two minutes with the game on the line and the St. James kids got the job done,” said Jenkins.

Lutcher finds itself in the same position as a year ago. Like last season, the Bulldogs are 0-2. Lutcher defeated Marksville 35-12 to avoid going 0-3. The difference this year is the Bulldogs will be on the road.

“I really think it’s a different challenge for us,” Jenkins said. “It’s one of those things where your schedule gets made and you have a trip to Marksville on the schedule and that’s one of the things you like to see your team take every once in a while. Your aspirations are to always play in the playoffs and handle those things. Then you get off to an 0-2 start and you have to unfamiliar territory and go two-and-a-half, three hours away from home and play what used to be a conventional offense to a very unconventional offense to prepare for and it gives you a lot to be concerned about.”

Marksville’s unconventional offense by today’s standards is the veer.

“Last year, and the last two times we’ve played them, they were more of a spread offense, running the ball with the ability to throw the ball down the field. This year, they moved to a veer-style offense, which gives you a different look. It’s something you don’t see every day so it will force us to play a lot more disciplined up front, especially in the box, and tackle well and eliminate mental missed assignments to be able to stay on track and be able to get stops in that game,” Jenkins explained.

Although the offense has changed, the personnel is much the same as the Tigers (1-1) return numerous starters on both sides of the ball. One returning starter on offense is quarterback Daniel Miller.

“He’s a very good athlete. He’s 5-11, 180 pounds so he’s a good-looking kid. Last year he was probably more of an athlete than he was a quarterback. He was able to make plays with his feet. He threw the ball OK but they were really just vertically pushing the ball down the field. I think because of his athletic ability and his ability to run might have been some of the push for the change. He’s really one of their keys to their football team,” Jenkins explained.
Other familiar names on the Tigers offense include running back Trajan Alexander and receiver Brandon Flores.

Many of the players who start on offense also play on the defensive side of the ball for Marksville. Alexander is an example.

“He also plays linebacker. He’s just another good high school athlete. He’s 5-10, 200 pounds. He runs hard and he runs well to the ball,” Jenkins said of Alexander.

Alexander and defensive lineman Gavin Laird, Jenkins said, seem to have been around forever.

“The roster says (Laird) only is a junior and I remember preparing for him and having him in our notes three years ago when we played them in 2016. In the playoffs in 2016, Gavin Laird was one of the guys that we had highlighted,” Jenkins recalled.

While many of Marksville players play both offense and defense, they will fight to the end, according to Jenkins.

“Probably the one thing that came out of that 2016 playoff matchup in the quarterfinals was just how hard those kids played,” the Lutcher coach said. “In that game we kind of jumped out early but they just kept pushing, kept pushing and made it a close game. Late in the game, they made some plays and got an on-side kick back and did all those little things.

“We have to go there and match their intensity. They are coming off a pretty big loss last week to one of the better football teams in that part of the state. They played Many last week and Many is big and physical and has a lot of numbers.”

One of the few newcomers for Marksville is Triston Jacobs, who like most other Tigers, plays on offense and defense.

“He’s 6-2, 230 pounds and plays tight end. He’s a sophomore but he definitely looks the part and he’s been able to make some plays for them defensively. He’s a guy you have to be prepared for because he is physical and he can run really well. He does a good job from his defensive end position,” Jenkins said.

While the Bulldogs make the long trek to Marksville, playing away from home could be a good thing for Lutcher, according to Jenkins.

“It can kind of go either direction,” the Lutcher coach said. “You kind of have to see how you respond to it. Getting away and being able to just know your back is against the wall and take that trip, it can sometimes be good for a team and being able to escape some of the negativity that you are kind of bombarded with at times. It’s all on how you react and respond to it.”

George Becnel | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

George Becnel is an award-winning journalist and has been a sports writer and editor for more than 30 years.