Linebacker Gordon Bennett and the St. Frederick Warriors open the season at D'Arbonne Woods Charter on Thursday night. (Photo by Tom Morris)

St. Frederick will set out to play the spoiler Thursday night when it visits D’Arbonne Woods for the inaugural game in the Timberwolves’ new on-campus stadium. Starting time is 7 p.m. in Farmerville.

DWCS, which first played varsity football in 2015, previously held its home games at what was formerly Bernice High School. The T-wolves’ new venue includes a turf surface.

“I’m sure their team and their fans are going to be excited,” St. Fred coach Andy Robinson said. “They have been waiting on this for a long time. It’s the only LHSAA game within a 70-mile radius (River Oaks visits Riverfield Thursday night in MSAIS play), so I’m looking for a big crowd and a great atmosphere.”

Former West Monroe wide receiver T.J. McBroom enters his first full season as the Timberwolves’ head coach. McBroom was named interim head coach following last year’s 30-7 season-opening loss to the Warriors in Monroe.

DWCS struggled to a 2-8 worksheet last fall, but Robinson expects to face a much-improved foe this time around. 

“They went to Natchitoches and played well in the jamboree,” Robinson said, acknowledging the Timberwolves’ 22-6 win over Ringgold last week. “T.J. does a good job. They have an experienced quarterback and a good running back. Defensively, they were all over the place.”

St. Fred, meanwhile, is searching for answers offensively after managing just 59 yards of offense in a 12-7 loss to Jonesboro-Hodge in Game 1 of the Bayou Jamb last Thursday.

“When you come out and play like we played offensively, obviously it starts with the coaching,” said Robinson, who doubles as offensive coordinator. “I’m the play-caller, which mean I have to look in the mirror and ask, ‘Am I doing the right thing?’

“After that, you have to look at the personnel. We rolled up our sleeves and were back working Friday morning. Hopefully, we will see some progress this week.”

Alex Rightsell’s 8-yard pass to tight end Beau Bennett with 30 seconds left in the first half accounted for the Warriors’ only touchdown.

“I’m glad we played a good opponent because Jonesboro-Hodge exposed some weaknesses,” Robinson said. “The good teams left at the end of the season don’t have any weaknesses, and they continue to attack yours. Obviously, we still have a lot to work on.”

Throughout the summer, Robinson expressed confidence in the Warriors’ defense, and the unit did nothing to change his mind Thursday afternoon. 

J-H’s touchdowns came off of a fumble at the St. Fred 23 and a blocked punt late in the game. Out of four full second half possessions, the Tigers did not take a single offensive snap from their own side of the field. St. Fred proved up to the task, holding J-H without a first down.

“Some nights the offense is going to turn it up a gear. Some nights the defense is going to turn it up a gear,” Robinson said. “It’s a team game.

“We put the defense in some tough situations. They faced a lot of adversity in terms of being backed up to the goal line, and they created some turnovers.”

Senior defensive end Denterrius McHenry made an impact in his debut with the Warriors as did a handful of returnees.

“Beau Bennett, Jeremiah Willis, Gordon Bennett and Pat Johnson — you expect those guys to prepare themselves to come out and play well, and they did,” Robinson said.

Beau Bennett, a two-way standout at tight end and defensive end, was recognized as the Warriors’ Player of the Game.

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