Lutcher has won two football games in a row but it’s not yet time to break up the Bulldogs.
“We have improved,” Lutcher coach Dwain Jenkins said. “Sometimes that’s hard for other people who aren’t here every day and not seeing what goes on the practice field may not understand.
“What’s proving out over the year is we went into the season thinking our schedule was pretty difficult but it’s working out how difficult our schedule really is with the way East Ascension and St. Amant have played this season and even Dutchtown. Many saw it as a rebuilding year for them and they upset St. Amant a couple of weeks ago. All three of those schools are in the Top 16 in 5A going into the playoffs and two are in the Top 5. You start to think that maybe some of those games you played early on what were close losses, you feel better than everybody else was but it doesn’t deter from the fact that football team has gotten better and better as this season has goes on.”
What’s been the reason for the recent turnaround?
“The way football works out, normally, if you can start fixing your turnover issues, turnovers start to balance out and that’s what we’ve kind of seen over these last couple of weeks. We need them. We know our margin of error is very, very slim but we know we can’t turn the ball over the last couple of weeks and help other teams out,” said Jenkins.
The Bulldogs look to make it three-in-a-row when they host Tara on Friday. Both teams are 3-5 overall, while Lutcher is 2-1 in District 6-4A play and Tara 0-3.
A win by Lutcher on Friday and in the regular-season finale against Plaquemine could allow the Bulldogs to finish second on the district. Should Parkview Baptist lose to Woodlawn in Week 10, Lutcher could end up the season as district co-champs.
Lutcher’s big task Friday night will be to stop Tara’s Chris Avery. The Trojans running back leads the state in rushing with 1,309 yards.
“The thing that makes him so special is everything doesn’t have to be blocked clean,” said Jenkins. “He’s not a really big guy but he’s able to find a crease and turn it into a big play. That’s the one thing you have to be prepared for. He’s capable of taking it and going 70 or 80 (yards) on any snap. It doesn’t have to be blocked perfect, and that’s what makes him a real scary guy to prepare for. You have to make sure you are playing technique-sound on defense and hitting all your run gaps because you can’t give him a crease.”
Tara runs a spread offense so they are running out of the shotgun.
“They run inside zone and some gap-scheme plays for him. There is no one thing you can say they are doing better than the other,” Jenkins said.
A big Tara offensive line got even bigger this season with the addition of Princeton Pines.
“When can put a guy that’s 6-3, 280 pounds and is a Division I recruit in Princeton Pines, who played last season at U-High at guard, it gives you a great opportunity to run. They are pretty big up front before the addition of Princeton Pines,” said Jenkins.
Darrius Brooks joins Avery in the backfield along with quarterback Brandon Jordan.
Receiving targets for Jordan include Deonte Stevens, Shammah Jackson and Nicholas Scott.
“He’s a little small guy,” Jenkins said of the 5-foot-6 Scott. “They throw bubble screens to him.”
The Trojans feature a four-man front, which is a bit different from what Lutcher has faced from most defenses this season.
“We’ve seen a lot of odd-front teams for whatever reason,” said Jenkins.
Tara’s top defender is defensive back Brison Jordan.
“He’s the guy who flies around in the back end of their defense and makes a lot of plays for them,” Jenkins pointed out.
Another top player in the secondary is Kashoune Miller.
The defensive line consists of Lamount Hollis, Clayton Johnson, Jeremiah Hamilton and Kyle Robinson.
Friday’s game will be Senior Night at Lutcher.
“For our seniors, it’s the last time guaranteed those guys get to run out of this locker room for a football game and that’s got to mean something for the rest of this football team to give our seniors the opportunity,” Jenkins said. “Those guys have been part of some very special teams.
“This year they were put in a tough situation because we had 18 seniors but only five or six had played coming into this year. You had some first-year starters who were seniors and they had to step up and you had some inexperienced guys that had to lead a very young football team. We need to make sure we do everything we can this week to send those guys out on this field on a good note.”