- Feature Story
- RPF Staff
- August 31, 2016 - 6:16am
By: William Weathers
First-year Lutcher football coach Dwain Jenkins was already aware of the special qualities his team possessed.
That the Bulldogs went out and rallied from a two-touchdown, halftime deficit in last week’s jamboree only reaffirmed Jenkins’ convictions.
“There’s going to be nothing over the next 15 weeks of this season that will tell me something about this team that I don’t already know,” Jenkins said. “The response they gave in the community over the 10 days we were out (for flooding) says all you need to know about this football team and the character of those guys. Anything that happens on the field will kind of pale in comparison to what they’ve shown before they even played a game.”
For good measure Lutcher, without benefit of several practices and scrimmage, flashed its championship pedigree in the second half of the Ed Reed/Jarvis Landry Jamboree, overcoming a 24-10 deficit for a pulsating 25-24 victory.
It was the first moment that tested the resolve of Lutcher, which after winning its seventh state championship a year ago, opened the season atop the Class 3A state rankings that were released this week by the Louisiana Sportswriters Association.
“It kind of comes with the territory, it’s kind of been something we haven’t been able run or hide from,” Jenkins said. “We knew with the nucleus of guys we had coming back, especially on the offensive side, the expectations would be high. Our expectations are high. It’s something we talk about every day.
“We talk about playing in December,” Jenkins said. “We talk about playing for and winning the school’s (state) eighth championship. To get the recognition from the media is a compliment to the things the team has done in the past, but we know to reach our goals it’s going to have to take place on the field the next 15 weeks.”
Lutcher received nine of 11 first-place votes and 130 overall, distancing itself from No. 2 Amite (119), No. 3 De La Salle (91) and No. 4 St. James (87).
Senior quarterback Jontre Kirklin, an LSU commitment, and senior wide receiver Al’Dontre Davis are among the headliners for a high-powered Lutcher offense that also features wide receivers Gregory Clayton and Tariq Belvin.
“Most of the skills guys are back,” Jenkins said. “When you have the guys back that score the touchdowns, that’s normally what people see.”
Jenkins said the losses from last year’s defense were more pronounced with the graduation of Sully Lachie, Ben St. Pierre and Tyler Williams.
That’s why the Bulldogs are counting production and leadership from returning starters in seniors Dylan Recotta at strong safety, Rashawn Preston at outside linebacker and junior defensive end Thaddeus Watis.
“We lost a lot of last year’s team identity with the guys that left on defense last year,” Jenkins said. “That’s something we’re trying to build and cultivate throughout the year.”
Jenkins attributed his team’s slow start in the jamboree to a lack of practice time and not being able to scrimmage.
A highly-touted Destrehan team, ranked No. 9 in Class 5A, also had a role in placing Lutcher in peril, leading 24-10 at halftime.
“I thought in the second half we adjusted to the speed of the game,” Jenkins said. “To get out there and play against a quality team like Destrehan, if you’re not ready coming off the bus you might be in a little trouble.”
Kirklin helped Lutcher mount its comeback, directing the Bulldogs to a pair of second-half touchdowns and gain a measure of confidence and momentum heading into Friday’s home opener against Dutchtown at 7 p.m.
Kirklin completed 16 of 26 passes for 222 yards and rushed for 56 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including the game-winning score and two-point conversion.
“There are some things that are embedded here,” said Jenkins, a former Lutcher quarterback and 11-year assistant under Tim Detillier. “There’s a tradition. You’ve just got to keep playing, no matter what the situation. Keep working at getting better and good things can only happen for you.”
Other ranked RPF teams:
4. St. James
15. St. Charles