When Woodlawn makes the journey from Shreveport to Richwood on Friday night, it will mark a new beginning for both programs.
Marcus Yanez, the former Ouachita defensive coordinator, will make his debut on the Rams’ sideline. Hired in June following the resignation of Robert Arvie, Yanez has prior head coaching experience at Lake Providence and Bastrop.
Former Southern University quarterback CJ Byrd is embarking on his rookie season as a head coach. Byrd succeeds Jerwin Wilson, who joined the college ranks as wide receivers coach at Texas Southern.
Woodlawn compiled a 5-6 mark last season, bowing to Leesville 49-28 in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs.
At Richwood, Yanez takes over a program that reached the 2017 Class 3A state finals before plummeting to 2-8 last year.
Byrd inherits a talented roster, which includes offensive guard/defensive tackle Vincent Hall. Listed at 6-4, 320 pounds, Hall has offers from Missouri, ULM, Louisiana Tech and Louisiana Lafayette among others.
Sophomore quarterback Carlos Crow directs an offense, which also features slotback Brian Stewart and wide receiver Freddie Jackson.
“They have athletes all over the field, and they’re big up front,” Yanez said of Woodlawn. “They’re quarterback is real athletic. He can beat you with his arms and his legs.”
Linebacker Jamal Baylock and strong safety Jaquavis Richmond are the Knights’ defensive mainstays.
Both teams are looking to bounce back from jamboree losses as the Knights fell to Southwood 8-0, and the Rams dropped a 20-12 decision to Wossman.
Outcome notwithstanding, the jamboree gave the Rams a foundation to build upon.
“I thought our kids played hard against a veteran Wossman team,” Yanez said. “Unfortunately, the result didn’t go the way it was supposed to, but the kids fought the whole way. There were times when they could have easily hung their heads and quit because of a little adversity, but they didn’t.”
Center Chance Gilbert and tackle Kingston Davis provide a veteran presence for the Rams up front. Wide receivers CJ Henderson, Devin Hampton and Avaji Wordlaw are big-play threats in the passing game.
Defensively, the Rams are built around linebacker Carldarrius Bethley.
Closing out a two-game homestand, the Rams take on Ouachita next Friday.