Lake Arthur provides stiff challenge for Iota

IOTA – After a rough two weeks to begin the 2012 campaign, the Iota Bulldogs (0-2) will have their work cut out for them this week.

“Lake Arthur is really impressive, and their bring several kids back from last year,” said Neal Legé, coach of the Iota Bulldogs.

While question marks faced Iota’s opponents the first two weeks, very little is questionable about the Lake Arthur Tigers (2-0).

Lake Arthur returns seven starters this season—four on offense, three on defense. Offensively, three of those four are at skill positions, a quarterback (Rory Guidry), a running back (Colby Benoit) and an all-district wide receiver (Taylor McFarlain), all of which are seniors this year.

“Their offense, particularly the running backs are running the ball really well this year,” said Legé. “Not only are they bringing several older guys back, but they have the Hargrave kid who had a great game against us last year. The quarterback is back and unfortunately so is number three (McFarlain) who is always a deep threat and got us on one last year.

“Their offensive execution is just real good. You have to be alert at all times.”

Conditioning has been a focus that has, so far, paid dividends winning its first two games by a combined score of 63-27, defeating 1A’s Hamilton Christian 42-20 and 2A’s Delcambre 21-7. But it has been a necessary focus for the team that features eight of its players active on both sides of the ball, and while Lake Arthur believes it has the necessary pieces to fill in from time to time for the players, health and being able to play all four quarters has become very important to the Tigers.

A role Iota knows well.

“We’ve been looking at that,” said Legé. “We’ve noticed on film they have quite a few guys going both ways while we’ve been fortunate this year to have most of ours only going one way so that could matter in the fourth quarter.”

Another big focus for the Tigers coming into 2012 was defense. While having large stretches of brilliance, Lake Arthur was marred with inconsistency. But so far, the Tigers have made the movement toward consistency in defense.

Suffice to say, the Bulldogs are not staring at their easiest task, which means a full week of preparing for Legé and his team.

“We had a good workout Monday and which we are hoping continues throughout the week,” he said.

Lake Arthur ended their year 7-4 (4-3 in district 4-2A) with a 59-6 loss to Welsh, which included a 37-14 win over Iota in Week 3.

For Iota to not return to last year’s problems and 0-3 start, it will have to continue to improve offensively, defensively and shore up its special teams.

“We’ve got to solve our own problems,” said Legé. “Last week we had two mistakes in the kicking game that cost us two touchdowns and a win.

Offensively, Iota struggled to move the ball consistently against St. Edmund last week, but the big mistakes were seemingly erased. The biggest concern, in part due to the inconsistency, was the lack of offensive output in Week 2 compared to Week 1. Against Vinton, Iota boasted 291 yards of total offense, but against the Blue Jays they managed only 141 yards.

Meanwhile on defense, Iota allowed four touchdowns. An improvement from the 42 points it gave up to the Lions. And while Iota gave up 261 yards to St. Edmund, compared to 225 yards to Vinton, the Bulldogs have encouraging signs on defense to continue to build on.

“We’ve actually been playing pretty well on defense,” said Legé, “we’ve just been leaving their offense out on the field too long, which is something we are trying to correct. And of course, we are looking to make sure we stop the big plays that hurt us. But overall we’ve played well to this point.”

Iota has also been fortunate this year to keep the injury bug off of its back so far this year, having some players injured, but receiving far better prognosis for each player so far.

“We’ve got one with a sprained MCL, one with a sprained wrist and one with a sprained shoulder but other than that we’re OK,” said Legé. “They all went in Saturday and were treated and all are possible for Friday night. It’s better than we expected and they are responding well.”

The two teams will lock up Friday night at Jack Doland Memorial Stadium in Lake Arthur. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

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