St. Frederick hosts the Mangham Dragons to start a four-game homestand Friday night.
Both sides started the season in the win column last week as the Warriors blanked D’Arbonne Woods 54-0 Thursday night in Farmerville, and Mangham carved out a 34-26 road victory over Rosepine on Friday.
In what was considered an upset at the time, the Warriors won last year’s meeting 38-8. The two teams continued to go in opposite directions from there. One of the state’s most surprising teams, St. Fred went on to compile an 8-4 record while the Dragons missed the playoffs with an uncharacteristic 3-7 mark.
Mangham has a new look this season under first-year head coach Scott Wilcher, who has shelved the Wing-T in favor of the spread.
“Coach Wilcher is a doing a great job,” St. Fred coach Andy Robinson said. “Their numbers are up, and he’s changed offenses. They are trying to get their playmakers in more space. Mangham has really good team speed. They are definitely much-improved.
“Taking nothing away from coach (Tommy) Tharpe — what he did at Mangham the last six or seven years was unbelievable — but coach Wilcher has brought a new energy and excitement to the program. I think they are going to make a lot of noise in 2A this season.”
Junior dual threat quarterback Caleb Pleasant is the centerpiece of the Dragons’ offense. Among Pleasant’s favorite targets are Shun Williams, Tae Gayden and J.T. Smith.
Robinson expects the Warriors to be tested in every aspect of the game against Mangham.
“They had a good defense last year, and return a lot of guys,” Robinson said. “They attack you defensively, and they are aggressive with their coverage. They have a good, solid kicking game, too. They’re a playoff-caliber team. It’ll be a good game for us to let us know where we are. We are going to have to play very well to stay in the ballgame.”
Bouncing back from a 12-7 Bayou Jamb loss to Jonesboro-Hodge, the Warriors encountered minimal resistance against DWCS.
“Coming out of the jamboree we had a ton of things to correct,” Robinson said. “We showed improvement last week, which is really what it’s all about. We are going to focus on ourselves week-to-week. Obviously, there are things that happen in a game that you can’t simulate in practice. Once we play a team like Mangham, hopefully we learn from our mistakes.”
Beekman and District 2-1A rivals Tensas and Oak Grove also visit the Warriors during the homestand
“The kids are excited about playing at home on the grass field,” Robinson said. “Some really good football teams are coming to Monroe to see us over the next four weeks. Hopefully, our kids will respond the right way. I look for a big crowd come Friday night.”
Quarterback Alex Rightsell was a precise 6-of-6 for 121 yards and four touchdowns against DWCS. Will Ellender caught two passes for 59 yards and a pair touchdowns while Nelson Sparks rushed five times for 92 yards and two TDs.
St. Fred's defense is spearheaded by end Beau Bennett, linebacker Gordon Bennett and safety Pat Johnson.