Acadia Parish Jamboree signals start of prep football season
CROWLEY – It’s the end of August and in Acadia Parish and elsewhere in Louisiana, that means the kickoff of prep football.
And, as usual, local fans won’t have to drive very far to watch their favorite teams.
For starters, Rayne High School will play host to the 2013 Acadia Parish Jamboree this evening with two games on tap beginning at 6:30 p.m - Crowley High will take on Church Point in the opener while host Rayne will square off with Iota in the nightcap.
In addition, the Notre Dame Pioneers will take on Cecilia in the final of three games in tonight’s Lafayette Kiwanis Jamboree at Cajun Field.
“This is an exciting time for us because it means we’re one week away from the start of the season,” said Crowley High coach Josh Fontenot. “The main thing for us is to just keep making progress. This is still practice for us, but it is a live practice; it’s another chance for us to get in shape and get better.
“We’re not in game mode yet, we’re still working towards practice.”
Although the jamborees won’t count in anyone’s win-loss column, the game is a good chance for each coach to see how far their teams have come since last week’s scrimmages.
“Coming off the scrimmage, we know that there is a lot of room for improvement,” said Church Point coach John Craig Arceneaux, whose team took on Westminster last week. “We weren’t real happy with the way we played on both sides of the ball (last week); not that we’re upset with it, but we know that we’re better than what we played.
“We’re just going to try and get better in all phases of the game in the jamboree. We’re just going to try and get better offensively, defensively and try to make sure we’re solid on special teams. That’s what we kind of use the jamboree for.”
The contest, which will be the first time Crowley and Church Point meet up since the two schools canceled their regular-season rivalry two years ago, should be a good measuring stick for each squad.
Crowley should provide a stiff challenge with their size and youth. Church Point will counter with a veteran squad that returns 13 starters from last year’s team that was the District 5-3A runnerup.
“Church Point will be a good test for us,” said Fontenot. “They have been doing the same thing for a while and they have had success. So when you play a team like that, they come in with a lot of confidence; they know what they are doing, they know where they are going; those are all things that we are striving to get.
“If we can play well against a Church Point team that has those things established, it will be a good measuring stick for us. They have a good team. We just hope that we can go over there and perform and get better.”
What Fontenot is hoping to see out of his squad is what he witnessed during his squad’s first offensive and defensive series against St. Louis in their scrimmage. The Gents’ offense had an 8-play scoring drive on their first offensive series that resulted in a touchdown against the Saints and their defense limited the visitors to just one first down in their first go-around with the first teamers on the field.
“What we’re looking for is consistency,” said Fontenot. “Offensively, we can’t have a bunch of three-and-outs and defensively, we have to be physical up front and control the line of scrimmage.
“And the biggest thing is we can’t give up the big play. That has been one of our things that we’ve struggled with, even in the spring.”
The Gents gave up two long touchdown runs in the spring game against Cecilia. In the scrimmage last week, they gave up a long touchdown pass on fourth-and-long as well as a 36-yard gain on a bootleg.
“We can’t do that. That’s something we have to eliminate,” said Fontenot.
The second and final game of the evening will pit two teams that are stepping up in classification this year. Iota is moving up from Class 2A to 3A while Rayne makes the jump from 3A to 4A.
“This is the time of year after all the hard practice and hard work of August, now you can finally get a game-type situation,” said Iota coach Neal Legé. “You know, everyone is still in an evaluation process, trying to move kids around and see how you can make yourself better.”
Rayne, which returns four starters on each side of the ball, should provide a stiff challenge for the Bulldogs, who battled through countless miscues in their three-way scrimmage against Kaplan and Eunice a week ago.
The key for the Bulldogs is to clean up those mistakes.
“Rayne has a lot of speed and a lot of talent,” said Legé. “They do a lot of things well on offense and defense. They are big and physical and going against Kaplan and Eunice kind of prepared us for that.
“We’re just looking at getting better. Execution was our big problem on offense in the scrimmage; we had some misfires, some fumbles. We’re just trying to correct the little things and get better.”
Rayne, which held out four starters in their scrimmage last week against Catholic of New Iberia, is in the same boat as far as improvement is concerned.
“I feel pretty good about our team,” said Rayne High coach Curt Ware. “We’ve made a lot of progress in practice and we went against a really good Catholic High team and did real well.
“This will be a challenge for us. It’s the first time that you’re not standing behind them (the team) telling them what to do. It’s a dress rehearsal, so hopefully the kids will be able to perform without you sitting there being in their ear.”