Lutcher didn’t quite heed the warning of coach Dwain Jenkins and the Bulldogs paid the price with a 36-27 loss to previously winless Parkview Baptist in the District 6-4A opener last week.
“I just knew that Parkview was so much better than what maybe people were considering. You are talking about a program that is really consistent and that doesn’t happen to them often with the type of start they had and you knew the people they played are really, really good,” the Lutcher coach said.
Those really, really good people included the likes of Catholic of Baton Rouge, East Ascension, John Curtis, Walker and Southern Lab.
Along with the schedule, the Eagles were without several of their top players who returned for the Lutcher game, including starting quarterback Colton Jumonville.
“This is the first time this week that Parkview had the team they thought they would have at the beginning of the season on the field. From an emotional standpoint when you get all your guys back and you get to hit the reset button and start over, I thought we got a great effort from them,” said Jenkins.
It also didn’t help Lutcher’s cause that the Bulldogs quickly fell behind by two touchdowns. After an interception return for a touchdown only five plays into the game, Lutcher failed to field a sky kick on the ensuing kickoff. The Eagles got the ball right back and added another touchdown to lead 16-0.
“For us, it was one of those deals where we dug a hole too fast, too quick,” Jenkins said. “Again, I think it gets overlooked because of the results, and you can’t take away what happened in the first couple of minutes of the game, but you can be proud of the way your kids responded to it.”
The Bulldogs rallied back, making it 23-14 at one point before ultimately dropping to 3-3 overall and 0-1 in district play.
Lutcher’s opponent on Friday night, visiting St. Michael’s, brings a different dynamic than that of Parkview Baptist.
The Warriors, while not having played the level of competition as Parkview, are 4-2 overall and 1-0 in district play. The 4-2 mark represents one win more than St. Michael’s had all of last season.
“They are a very confident football team right now,” Jenkins said of the Warriors. “They haven’t played the same caliber of schedule when you look at what we saw from Parkview, who had been battle-tested week in and week out.
“They got a big win to open the season against a good Episcopal team and their two losses are to 6-0 teams – Dunham and Hannan.”
While St. Michael’s features a new coaching staff, led by Joey Sanchez, the Warriors are running the same basic offense as the recent past.
“Even though they have a new coaching staff, they have stayed true to what they were doing offensively last year. They are running a flex-bone, similar to Parkview. For us, that does give us a little bit of help preparing for the offense because now it’s the second week in a row of seeming that same scheme. It’s not new to us and it gives us a chance to build off of that,” Jenkins said.
While St. Michael’s likes to grind it out, the Warriors make the most of their few pass attempts. In last week’s 14-9 win over Woodlawn, quarterback Cole Garafola was 3 of 4 passing but one of the tosses resulted in a 63-yard touchdown to Chris Sehring.
“The big pass play they scored on was really well-designed,” Jenkins said. “It was a play-action pass off the flex-bone, snuck the back out of the backfield, kind of looked everybody away.
“He (Garafola) does a good job of running the football. He does a good job of running the option and being able to make plays with his feet. I’m not saying he’s the greatest athlete in the world but he’s a tough kid.”
Sehring lines up at fullback and tight end on offense but his biggest impact, Jenkins said, is as a defensive lineman.
“He’s probably their best football player,” Jenkins said of Schring. “He plays defensive end. He plays tight end. In the Woodlawn game, there’s a series of plays where he just takes over the game from a defensive standpoint.
“Whenever they need a big play on both sides of the ball, you will see him any time they need a big play, he’s normally the guy, whether it’s on offense or defense.”
Perhaps in an attempt to rest him to play defense, Jenkins said, Schring has been seeing less time at running back and more at tight end so he doesn’t have to carry the offensive load.
“Because Schring is so important to what they do defensively, he won’t be an every-down guy. Daniel Robin lines up there a little bit,” Jenkins said of Robin playing fullback.
Jaren Reimonenq is one of the slot wingback guys the Warriors want to get on the perimeter.
“At times last year we saw him on defense. He hasn’t played as much defense this year but you know he is one of their better athletes,” said Jenkins.
St. Michael’s base defense is a 4-2-5.
“They are able to vary their pressures with that they do with their coverages. They are probably one of the more varied coverage teams we’ve played against,” Jenkins said. “They do play a lot of man (coverage) and bring pressure but one thing you are able to see is they are really capable of creating negative plays. A lot of that is with Schring playing defensive end. Their strength has been up front. They have given up some big plays but then they will come up with a negative play again and get you behind the sticks.
“For us, it will be important for us to stay the positive side. That’s one of the things we’ve battled, especially from a penalty standpoint,” said Jenkins.
Among those joining Schring along the defensive line are Luke Wilson and Demond Gardner. Reimonenq plays some at cornerback along with returning starter Christian Redden.
“Offensively, for us, we have to avoid the turnovers. We can’t turn the ball over the way we did last week. One was on special teams and one was on the last play of the game, but still, that’s three turnovers offensively and all of them were on first-down plays. You really want to stay away from turnovers on first down, especially an unforced turnover,” Jenkins said.
From a defensive standpoint, the Bulldogs need to keep St. Michael’s from hogging the football, according to Jenkins.
“I think they would love to be able to come in and control the clock, control possessions and limit the number of times you touch the football. That’s will big for us to be able to match up with them up front and try to make plays on first and second down and keep them in passing situations and not allow them to just grind out the clock. That’s what it takes when you are playing a team with that style of offense,” the Lutcher coach said.