Talking season continued in Northeast Louisiana, as seven parish schools gave primers for their high school football teams at the seventh annual Pigskin Preview at West Monroe’s Convention Center Thursday afternoon.
All three members of District 2-1A talked about overcoming big losses in the previous season, new Wossman head coach Terence Cahee previewed life in the newly formed District 1-3A and District 2-5A coaches eyed bigger and better things in 2022.
“We’ve probably worked our guys the hardest we’ve ever worked in an offseason since I’ve been there,” West Monroe head coach Jerry Arledge said. “Thirty years. That’s a long time.”
West Monroe’s headman also confirmed the Rebels added a home game against RePublic High School (Nashville, Tenn.) on this year’s schedule for the Sept. 16 open date.
Arledge, who said he hated the term “rebuild,” admitted the Rebels will have to overcome an inexperience gap early into the season, and other schools can relate. Ouachita head coach Todd Garvin shared his thoughts on key losses his Lions would have to replace on defense in 2022, but he also let it be known the Lions aren’t satisfied with winning nine games and sharing district titles alone.
And senior guard Kris Pleasant reaffirmed the expectations are as high as ever at Ouachita.
“The guys last year set the bar for us,” Pleasant said. “We understand that in order to reach our goals we have to work even harder to win a state title because that’s what we want to do.”
West Ouachita head coach Mike Rainwater spoke candidly at the event and didn’t make any excuses about having to play in one of the toughest districts in the state against the likes of Ruston, Alexandria Senior High, West Monroe and Ouachita.
“To be transparent, we were very disappointed,” said Rainwater about the club’s 2-8 season. “We plan on improving that this year.”
Cahee can relate about playing in tough districts, though it’s nothing new for the former Lake Charles College Prep defensive coordinator. As the new head coach at Wossman, Cahee will battle the likes of Sterlington and Union, who met in the 2021 Class 3A State Championship Game. Motivation should be easy at least.
“I’ve told them that if I have to get you up to play those teams, you probably shouldn’t even be here,” Cahee calmy said.
River Oaks head coach Daniel Vanderberg finds himself in similar shoes. Like Cahee, the new challenge has Vanderberg fired up to compete in what’s yet another crowded district in Northeast Louisiana.
“It's all about changing lives. I feel like our relationships aren't just X’s and O’s. This is the most fired up I’ve ever been to coach football,” Vanderberg said.
St. Frederick and Ouachita Christian were two of the final four teams remaining in Division IV last season. Warriors transfer quarterback Micah Bell said the team has bought into the summer grind this offseason.
“After our spring game, Coach Billy Bell put together a really good summer program, and we had to show up. We had to be there every day,” Micah Bell said.
OCS’ Chad Strickland, who led the Eagles in rushing a year ago, said the team was blessed to go the state championship the past three years in a row but came up short the last two seasons. The ultimate goal remains the same for the Eagles.
“I think we’re just going to stick to what we do every year, and our goal is not to just get to the state championship but to win the state championship,” Strickland said.