Saints Reload for 2018
After knocking on the door of the Superdome in prior years, the 2017 West Feliciana Saints football team kicked the door down with a 14-1 finish and Class 3A state football championship in 2017.
Now, head coach Robb Odom has the dubious task of replacing a senior class that had double-digit players accept college football scholarships — virtually all of the offense and a substantial component of the defense. Gone are Davon Harris (1,049 yards and 15 TDs), Derek Turner (1,060 yards rushing, 1,396 yards passing, 35 TDs), Darius Davis and bulldozer linemen Zakk McKeehan and Jacob Fudge.
Odom enters his 14th year as head coach not resting on last year’s accomplishments or downplaying his expectations for the 2018 Saints. “Replacing a lot of starters from last year's championship team will be a large task, but the 2018 Saints aren't going to make any excuses. Expectations are the same as they always have been.”
Though the faces may be new, there is always talent waiting for an opportunity. New quarterback Bennett Clement will be given the keys to the Saints flex bone option offense. He will be joined in the backfield by Clayton Howard, Hunter Duos and DJ Cummings. At the other skill positions, Arin Spears (TE), Dane Rabalais (WR) and Khiry Morrison (WR) are poised to help with the new quarterback's transition.
Morrison is a returning starter and a tremendous deep threat who recently committed to play college football in 2019 at Louisiana Tech with 2017 Saint graduates Davon Harris and Derek Turner. “Khiry was a key contributor on last year’s team, an incredibly athletic talent that we will rely on for both sides of the ball and will be called upon to provide senior leadership for us to be successful in 2018,” Odom said.
The line will be led by returning starter, center, Tyler Casteel. He will be joined by Chris Emery, Brady Smith, Colton Scott and Dalton Leet. Coach Odom noted that “we are young up front and in the offensive backfield. Though it may take some time for things to jell, my hope is that by district we can be a well-oiled machine and put some points on the scoreboard. Our early competition will force us to learn and gain experience quickly.”
The defense will also be breaking in some new faces but will be led by returning starter Clayton Howard, who made 51 tackles, six sacks and one interception last year from his rover position. The defensive front will consist of Casteel, Emery, Malik Jacob and O’Koryea Anderson. The linebacking crew will include Howard, Cummings and Jackson Fazio. They will be backed up in the secondary by Morrison at free safety and Hunter Giroir at strong safety.
Coach Odom thinks his defense will be relied on more heavily during the early portion of the season. As the offense begins to hit its stride, “we are going to fly to the ball and try to make up for experience with tremendous effort and enthusiasm on defense.”
The special teams will have Aiden Holland returning at punter, but the Saints will need to replace kicker Luke Stelly, who was 73 of 76 on PATs and 8 of 14 on field goals in 2017.
“They have been working very hard this summer preparing for the tough district slate and know that it will help them going into the playoffs again this year,” Odom said. As in previous years, the Saints start off the early season with defending 5A champion Zachary in the jamboree and defending Division II Champ University High as the District opener on Sept. 21.
Coach: Robb Odom
PROJECTED OFFENSIVE STARTERS
TE Arin Spears, *WR Khiry Morrison, WR Dane Rabalais, OT Chris Emery, OG Brady Smith, *C Tyler Casteel, OG Colton Scott, OT Dalton Leet, QB Bennett Clement, *TB Clayton Howard, FB DJ Cummings, TB Hunter Duos
PROJECTED DEFENSIVE STARTERS
DE Malik Jacob, DT Tyler Casteel, DT Chris Emery, DE O'Koryea Anderson, LB DJ Cummings, LB Jackson Fazio, *R Clayton Howard, SS Hunter Giroir, *FS Khiry Morrison
* denotes returning starters
Aug. 31 East Feliciana
Sept. 7 Livonia
Sept. 14 at Live Oak
Sept. 21 University Lab*
Sept. 28 at Brusly*
Oct. 5 Glen Oaks*
Oct. 12 at Mentorship Academy*
Oct. 19 at Madison Prep*
Oct. 26 at Baker*
Nov. 2 at Kinder
* denotes district game