For the Crowley Gents and the Patterson Lumberjacks, who are scheduled to meet in their season openers, that isn’t the case this week.
With Hurricane Isaac causing havoc across the state during the middle part of the week, the two teams elected to move their season opener from Friday to Saturday to give both teams more time to prepare.
“It (Saturday) is going to be a bit different for our kids,” said CHS coach Josh Fontenot. “It will be a totally different routine and there’s a lot that goes with it that we’re not used to.
“But when it comes down to it, we have to get ready to play a football game so that remains the same.”
Kickoff for Saturday’s game is slated for 2 p.m. at Gardiner Memorial Stadium.
The Gents, as is the case with many football teams across the state, have had their preparations for the season opener cut short due to the hurricane. Patterson students have been out of school since Tuesday and Crowley High students were off Wednesday and today as well.
For Fontenot, that isn’t a good thing when preparing to face a high-powered offense like Patterson.
“Year in and year out, Patterson is as good on offense as anybody in the state,” said Fontenot. “And this year is no different. They are a little younger and a little less experienced, but the talent is still there. They are coached well and it will be a huge challenge for us defensively.”
The Lumberjacks, whose 79-player roster has 49 players who are either freshmen or sophomores, lost heavily to graduation last year. Their biggest void offensively was left by quarterback Justice Jones, who is now playing at Texas Southern. Jones threw for over 4,000 yards and 52 touchdowns the last two seasons.
Denzel Johnson (6-2, 205) steps in under center this year for the Jacks and is a dual threat at the position. He rushed for a 24-yard touchdown and threw a 40-yard pass to set up another score in Patterson’s 20-6 victory over Central Catholic in the jamboree last week.
“The quarterback they have now is a little different than the one they had the past two years,” said Fontenot of Johnson. “He’s more physically intimidating. He’s more of a runner than the one in the past, but he’s not quite as accurate as a passer. So you give to get, I guess, with them. He is a good athlete and he will throw the ball well, but the other one that they had before was so good in the passing game, it’s hard to be that good.
“But this kid is a better athlete who is more of a threat to run.”
Patterson also returns Arkansas commitment Deondre Skinner at wideout/tight end.
“They will try and get him the ball as much as they can,” said Fontenot. “He’s a big, physical, impressive looking kid.”
Deontay Jones, Larry Turner and Shelby Lavergne will be the featured backs in Patterson’s spread offense.
Lavergne scored twice in the jamboree - on runs of 15 and 22 yards.
“They will use three backs that are actually a bunch of scat backs and they’re fast,” said Fontenot. “They’re not going to overpower you, but they don’t try to. Their offense is similar to ours where they try to get in the way and let the athletes be active. They are going to get the ball in their best players hands and let them make plays.
Defensively, the Jacks run a 3-4 defense under former CHS coach Mark Millet. That unit has been one of the stingiest in the state the last two years.
“They have been running the 3-4 for years,” said Fontenot. “Those kids know it. Every defense has it’s weaknesses, but they know where they are at. It’s not the scheme that gets you. The scheme is solid, but it’s the athletes that they run the scheme with that makes it very, very hard.
“They have some of the best athletes around, they put them in positions where they let them run free and they attack you. You better be ready because they run to the ball, they blitz you and they come get it. They play man-to-man and they make you make tight throws.”
For Crowley, offensive production wasn’t a problem in the jamboree. The Gents racked up 398 total yards and 34 points in a loss to Rayne.
Quarterback Andre Mills completed eight passes for 255 yards and two touchdowns in the loss. Chanz Moore was the Gents’s leading receiver with seven receptions for 239 yards and two touchdowns.
“We’re going to need to score some points. To beat Patterson, you’re going to have to,” said Fontenot. “I’m looking for the same consistent play out of Andre and Chanz. We need Thomas Cavell to step up and catch a few balls and Danny Malbrough and Chris Lewis just need to keep running hard and protecting the ball. The runs are going to come and the big-play opportunities are going to be there.”
Defensively is where the Gents need the most improvement after giving up nearly 500 yards a week ago against Rayne.
“We match up with Patterson better than we did with Rayne because we see this offense all the time,” said Fontenot. “The jamboree was a wakeup call for us. I’m looking to make a huge improvement on defense.”