After a run at the quarterfinals in his first season at St. Edmund, Blue Jay head coach Tom Andrus is excited about the possibilities for the 2008 squad.
The Blue Jays finished 10-3 overall last season after a 3-1 run through District 6-1A.
After a 33-14 loss to 3-A Iota, St. Ed’s sole district loss was against a 25-15 decision to Catholic High of Pointe Coupee before the Blue Jays went on a six-game winning streak.
“If we could keep our kids disciplined and focused on what needed to be done, we knew they could have a winning season,” Andrus said.
The Blue Jays opened the playoffs with wins over Southern Lab (31-24) and Delhi Charter (21-12) before being pushed out by eventual 1-A champions South Plauquemines (47-13) in the quarterfinals.
“We had a extremely good summer workout,” Andrus said. “We changed our program to general strength, plyometrics, free exercise and weight training.
“It was a real good program and we have seen a difference already.”
Two coaches have joined the staff with former Blue Jay coach Mike Yachera and former player Ryan Henderson.
“With 17 years experience, it is not had for a guy seasoned like him to pick up the chances as he knew the offense and defense systems already,” Andrus said of Yachera.
“Ryan did his student teaching and coaching at Hamilton Christian as he learned well at a good fundamental program over there.
“A lot that we are going through with the system,” Ryan learned when he was playing here.”
Andrus said the success on the football field actually begins in the classroom.
“Our first priority over here is our education,” the athletic director said. “Football, basketball and baseball are minor.
“We are to give them an education first and what ever carries over to the sidelines is a big plus for us.
“We want them to bust their butts on the football field but when they get home, we want them to bust it on their homework too.”
With the depature of a talented group of seniors including quarterback Wesley Richard and running back Quinn Arnaud (1,1106 yards, 13 TDs on 161 carries) and a solid front line on both sides of the ball, the Blue Jays will have fill in some crucial spots.
But Andrus is excited about this group heading into the season.
“We lost some big fellows last year,” Andrus said of the front lines. “We are smaller but with the finesse these guys have, we should do just as well. If they get focused right, there is not telling what can happen.”
One of the big changes on offense is the shifting of Marshall Arabie from wide receiver to quarterback.
“Marshall is one of those all-around athletes,” the coach said. “He is a strong kid and has a good arm with fairly decent speed. He has stepped in and dome a fine job.”
Along with Arabie in the backfield are sophomore runningbacks Robert Sanders and Adam Wimberly.
Tight end Tyler McGee (6-4, 200, Sr.) and seniors Trevor Hargroder (6-0, 165) and Jerod Fontenot ((6-0. 170) and junior Wesley Chachere (5-10, 160) provide a talented group of receivers.
The defense has eight returning starters including Alex Rozas (5-8, 210), McGee, Taylor Eval (60-0, 215) on the defensive line.
“We are deep on defense and we will be sound there,” Andrus said. “But after the experienced starters we will have mostly sophomores.
“They will have to step up and help us with our depth, but if we stay healthy I think we will be pretty good.”
Andrus said the key to success this season will be consistency on both offense and defense.
“If our quarterback has a good game then everybody has a good game,” he said. “But it still goes back to the linemen. If they don’t block, we don’t have anything.”
St. Eds will scrimmage at Opelousas Catholic on Friday, Aug. 22 and then face Westminster Christian Academy in the Opelousas Kiwanis Jamboree on Thursday, Aug. 28.
The regular season opens at home against Sacred Heart of Ville Platte on Friday, Sept. 5.
The seventh playing date is still open with the departure of Acadiana Prep from the LHSAA, but Andrus said they are negoiating with Plain Dealing to make the trip to Eunice.