LSN STAFF WRITER
IOTA – The Iota Bulldogs, still in the thick of the playoff hunt, are hoping that a strong showing in the season’s final two games will be enough to solidify their status. Head coach Marcus LeJeune, as has been his custom, isn’t about to let his team think about anything else aside from the task at hand.
“We’re not thinking about the playoff picture right now,” said Iota coach Marcus LeJeune. “We’re just thinking about the game that’s in front of us.” The Bulldogs are coming off successive losses to Welsh and Livonia during past two weeks. The loss to Livonia was not a district or a class 2A game and shouldn’t hurt Iota’s playoff standing much. In fact, the Bulldogs season has been a series of two game streaks. The Bulldogs opened with two successive wins, followed by two losses, then two wins, and then the two aforementioned losses.
Coach LeJeune’s squad has battled through much this season and this year’s team has been a testament to fighting through adversity and the coaching squad’s ability to rally the players.
“We keep getting better each week,” said LeJeune. “Our practices keep getting better and the kid’s attitudes have been great. They have really bought into the team concept and I am really proud of these boys”
The Pine Prairie Panthers, standing at 0-8, have had a long season thus far and would love nothing more than a victory during the final two weeks of the season to build upon for next season. Last week, the Panthers lost 42-6 to a very physical Lake Arthur team. The Panthers mounted a nice looking 14-play drive which consumed nearly four minutes of the clock and ended with a one-yard run by Pine Prairie back Ryan Roy. However, that was about all the Panthers could muster during the huge Tiger victory.
Despite Pine Prairie’s record, Coach LeJeune will not allow his team to overlook the Panthers.
“They run a spread offense and have some good athletes,” said LeJeune. “They try to get their athletes isolated so they can break a big play.”
The Bulldogs 4-4 record could just as easily include a couple more victories had a couple of breaks gone their way. Losses to South Beauregard and Lake Arthur were close up until the final quarter and despite nearly matching the teams on the stat sheet, turnovers and penalties came back to haunt Iota during those games.
The Bulldogs rely on their signature power running game to wear down opponents, using power back Brenten Lantier, who suffered an ankle injury during the loss to Livonia last week, and speed back Bryant Fantroy, who has filled in admirably since taking over at tailback in the team’s game against Oakdale earlier this season.
Lantier’s status for Friday’s game is doubtful.
The Bulldog defense, led by the play of emotional leader Tyler Harmon, has been steady all season, holding teams to just over 19 point per game. Last week during the Dogs loss to Livonia, the Dogs gave up the most points they have all season. Livonia coach David Brewerton still left the field with nothing but compliments for Iota’s style of play.
“That team plays good, old fashioned, smashmouth football,” said Brewerton. “We expected a tough physical game and they didn’t disappoint us.”