Patterson Lumberjacks have size and speed
By CORWIN MURRAY
Patterson will field a potent mix of size and speed for the 2013 season.
The Lumberjacks were young last season with 49 of the 79 players either freshmen or sophomores.
The team showed growing pains despite going 7-4 and making the playoffs.
Patterson fell to eventual state runner-up, Notre Dame, 38-26, in the first round of the playoffs.
Patterson will not have to face the perennial powerful private school teams like Notre Dame with this season’s new split playoff system which will divide football-playing schools into select and non-select brackets. The split is basically along public and private school lines with the private schools falling into the select category and the private schools into the non-select category.
“I don’t like it,” longtime Patterson coach Tommy Minton said. “All of this is being done over a couple schools, and I would much rather see the LHSAA do a better job of policing those schools. I didn’t think they needed to tear down the whole structure of the association. I think this will be a one-year deal because I look for a ton of debate in January and other options put for a vote.”
But Minton is more focused on getting his charges ready for 2013.
The new starter under center this season is senior Spencer Landry. Landry shined as a backup last season, often breaking long runs for scores.
“Spencer has paid his dues,” Minton said. “He’s been patient and he’s earned the starting nod. He is a very accurate passer, and his timing with the receivers is very good and he’s more athletic than teams will think.”
Landry will take over for departed senior Denzel Johnson, a first-team All-District 9-3A selection as an athlete a year ago.
Backing up Landry at quarterback is sophomore Sirbatian Charles. Charles got meaningful snaps this summer when Landry was out with an injury.
The third quarterback is junior Jake LaGrange.
“Jake’s a tough kid who can fill at quarterback, but he will start for (us) at outside linebacker,” Minton said.
Patterson has a lot of talent returning in the backfield.
Senior Larry Turner and junior Shelby Lavergne are both capable of taking it the distance at any time, while senior Deontay Jones is the ’Jacks’ grinder.
Lavergne earned second-team all-district honors in 2012.
“They all have their strengths,” Minton said. “We are set at running back.”
Other running backs in the mix include sophomores D.J. Jones and Tristan Ausama and junior John Davis.
Senior Kevin Merritt (6 feet, 240 pounds) will anchor the offensive line, moving from tackle to center.
A year ago, he earned second-team all-district honors on the offensive line along with Malik Garrett (6 feet, 2 inches, 245), who returns for his junior season where he will start at right tackle.
Senior Landon Thomas (6 feet, 4 inches, 305) is the left tackle. Juniors Clay Benoit (5 feet, 10 inches, 170) and Keith Gray (5 feet, 10 inches, 230) are battling for the right guard position. Sophomore Jayce Leblanc (5 feet, 11 inches, 225) is a first-year starter at left guard.
Others expected to see playing time include sophomores J’Briaan Johnson and Jalen Antoine.
The ’Jacks will be playing this year without second-team All-District linemen Kelon Bourgeois, who graduated, as well as second-team selection Matt Tregle, who has moved to the defensive line.
Patterson has two of the best receivers in the state in junior Daylon Charlot and sophomore Mykel Jones, who both have received interest from top-flight college football programs nationwide.
Charlot is the team’s deep threat. He caught 53 passes for 967 yards and 14 touchdowns last year on his way to earning both first-team all-district and Louisiana Football Coaches Association Class 3A All-State accolades. He is ranked 12th on the Louisiana 2015 watch list by Scout. Charlot has offers from Mississippi State and Arizona State, among others.
“Daylon has that great top-end speed and really good hands,” Minton said earlier this summer. “He also works very hard on his route running, which is key to his development.”
Jones was a freshman sensation last season, catching 34 balls for 692 yards and six touchdowns.
He received interest from LSU, Florida State, USC and Tennessee, among others.
“Mykel is a physical receiver; he’s very strong for his size,” Minton said earlier this summer. “He’s very explosive, and he gets in and out of his cuts and up to full speed with a couple steps.”
Joining Charlot and Jones in the ’Jacks’ receiving corps are seniors Rene Maillet and Jedrick Gunner.
Backups expected to see playing time are senior Quindon Cox and sophomores Brennan Gouaux and Nehemiah Augustus.
“We have a solid group on offense and we have good depth; all capable of making big plays,” Minton said.
While the ’Jacks have their two stud receivers, they will have to replace tight end Deondre Skinner, a first-team all-district selection at the position who graduated last year.
Patterson’s defensive line will give any 3-A team a battle.
The defensive line is big and strong this season, led by Tregle (6 feet, 2 inches, 260) at tackle.
Junior Earl Johnson (5 feet, 11 inches, 280) is a returning starter at nose tackle.
“He will be more of a force in the middle this year,” Minton said. “He has worked hard and improved.”
Others in the defensive line rotation include Cox, senior Jerome Jennings, junior Carlos Turner, sophomore Tyrike Singleton, sophomore Cameron Leblanc and junior Taylor Verdin.
Gone from last year’s squad is second-team all-district selection James Tarleton.
Senior Taylor Harris is a returning starter at inside linebacker where he will be joined by junior Malik Bass.
“Both are good tacklers, and they read very well,” Minton said. Also expect to see sophomores Blake Dreyer and Dominique Washington playing inside.
Augustus, a second-team all-district performer as a freshman, returns at outside backer along with LaGrange, also a returning starter.
Junior Shundren Johnson, Gunner and Davis also will see playing time at outside linebacker.
Senior Kendall Hunter, a first-team all-district selection, returns to one cornerback spot, while senior Joe Duffie takes over on the other side.
Sophomores Shea Ragas and Tristen Ausama also will play corner.
The safety is Turner, who will be backed up by Lavergne (second-team all-district), senior Carnelius Pollard and senior Dontrell Benjamin.
“We have a lot of good athletes on this defense, but they have to learn not to go for the knockout shot on every down,” Minton said. “They are an aggressive bunch.”
The Lumberjacks’ schedule will feature two Class 5A schools in Brother Martin and East Ascension to open the season as well as Class 2A Catholic High-N.I., Class 4A Vandebilt Catholic and other non-district contests against class 3A Westlake and Class 1A Southern Lab.
The ’Jacks will welcome some new district opponents in the newly reclassified District 9-3A in Donaldsonville and former district rival E.D. White. Berwick and Franklin both will remain as district opponents from last year’s league.