Gents open season at No. 3 Patterson
CROWLEY – The 2011 prep football schedule for the Crowley Gents is a brutal one to say the least.
From one of the toughest non-district schedules in the state to a rugged league slate that includes Notre Dame, Iowa, Westlake, Jennings and South Beauregard, the Gents have their work cut of for them every single week.
And it all starts tonight when the Gents travel to Patterson to take on Class AAA’s No. 3-ranked Lumberjacks. Kickoff is set for 7.
“We aren’t looking any further than Week 1,” said CHS coach Tommy Tate. “It’s that time where you get your first game of the season and you are really anxious to see how far you’ve progressed during the month of August. Plus, you have to put it all together for that one game.”
Putting it together will be key for the underdog Gents who have the daunting task of containing Patterson’s high-powered offense which returns a number of key starters from last year’s state finalist team.
The most notable returner offensively for the Lumberjacks is senior quarterback Justice Jones, who threw for over 2,500 yards and 17 touchdowns last season. In the state title game, Jones completed 23 passes for 317 yards and three touchdowns en route to earning the Outstanding Player award for Patterson in a 24-20 loss to Parkview.
“Jones has a lot of confidence and you can tell he never gets shook,” said Tate. “He has really good pocket presence and he throws a good ball.”
Jones didn’t have to do a lot of running last year with LSU signee Kenny Hilliard in the backfield, but he is quite capable of making plays with his legs as well as his arm, said Tate.
“He’s not a young man that tries to run with the football, but when pressured, he’s very capable of running with the football,” said the CHS head coach. “He’s got good speed and he has good scrambling and escapability when you do pressure him. That’s when he really becomes dangerous because he can buy time, extend the play and create big plays and big throws down the field. He’s a complete quarterback. He’s a three-year starter and he’s won a lot of football games for them.”
Jones will be joined in the backfield by University of Houston commitment Trevon Stewart and Mark Jones. Both put up respectable numbers behind Hilliard a year ago while also racking up solid numbers receiving.
“It’s such a challenge to be able to spread the field and then be able to defend the running game,” said Tate. “They have a tailback (Mark Jones) that got a lot of playing time last year and he’s very talented. And Stewart runs with football and they throw to him also. He’s a very capable athlete.
“If they’re able to run the football, you’re in for a long night.”
Stewart had a 7-yard touchdown run and also caught a pass for a score in Patterson’s 34-0 victory over Franklin last week in the Morgan City Jamboree while Mark Jones had an 8-yard scoring run and a touchdown reception.
Other targets for Justice Jones include 6-foot-4 wideout Deondre Skinner, who had over 400 yards receiving last year, and Vandebilt commitment Jaydrick Delcouet, who had 34 catches for 605 yards and seven touchdowns.
“They make you defend the deep ball, they have all the split end screens,” said Tate. “They do a good job of getting the ball into their playmakers’ hands, which starts with the quarterback, the tailback and then the wide receivers.”
The Jacks are just as impressive on the defensive side of the ball, where they return the seven players off a team that limited opponents to under 200 yards a game.
All-Stater Lorenzon Phillips, a University of Florida commitment, returns at linebacker as well as Josiah Parker and last year’s leading tackler Tremaine Lightfoot, who has offers from Arizona State , McNeese and Grambling.
Stewart, an All-State safety last season, returns to lead the Jacks’ secondary. Junior Laron Todd is also a returning starter at free safety while Kiyan Jones and Kendall Hunter are the starting cornerbacks. Jones transferred to Patterson after starting for Class 5A state champion Acadiana last year.
“There are a lot of seniors all over the field, but their defensive unit is more or less in tact,” said Tate. “I think they return seven to eight starters on defense with a lot of experience.
“They’re very good at linebacker, they’re very good up front and they’re able to run with anyone in the backfield. They have great speed in the secondary and they’re great open field tacklers. It’s going to be a big challenge for us to move the football.”
That challenge is something Tate hopes his squad is up to.
“We are going to have to be able to establish a running game,” said Tate. “And they play a style of football that really stacks the box and tries to force you to throw the football.”
Last week, the Gents used a balanced offensive attack to defeat Kaplan, 13-0 in the Acadia Parish Jamboree.
Crowley’s ground attack pounded out 117 yards and one touchdown on 23 carries while quarterback Andre Mills threw for 95 yards and one touchdown.
“It will be Andre’s first start against a very good football team and we’re very excited about seeing him play,” said Tate. “We have three new starters on the offensive line and three new starters at receiver so we’re anxious to see how they respond.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the Gents held Kaplan to just 114 yards on the night, the bulk of that coming in the second half against Crowley ’s reserves.
However, Patterson’s big-play offense provides a much bigger challenge for the Gents this week.
“They spread the ball,” said Tate. “They get in two backs and then they get all the way out to empty so they really throw a lot of different formations at you.
“We’re going to have great alignments, great play recognition and then get a lot of people running to the football. You’re not going to be very successful if you have one-on-one tackling out there all night because they have some very capable guys that are really good open field runners.”