LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The Welsh Greyhounds hit the carpet of the Mercedez-Benz Superdome this morning with a goal of doing one thing-- repeat as state champs.
An air of confidence surrounded the Hounds during their 30 minute practice period and Welsh players and coaches said as much.
“We’ve seen this all before but it still blows your mind when you walk in here," John Daigle said. "I mean it is nerve-racking but we have been preparing for this all year. We always said that we wanted to come back and it feels great just to be here again.”
“Last year they were oohing and aahing, looking around and taking pictures," John Richardson said. "This year, most of the guys have been here and they knew to expect. It’s more of a businesslike approach this year.”
That type of approach is what Welsh is hoping puts them over the edge in their matchup with a star-studded Amite team. One player who could be the X-factor for the Hounds is a three-star himself. Wide receiver Da’Ren Zeno came up big in the title game a year ago and will have to again for Welsh to repeat. His playmaking ability is what makes him our KPLC 7 Sportsperson of the week.
“Big players make big plays in big games," John Richardson said. "As you get into the bigger games those guys tend to step up and that’s what we’ve had.”
Greyhound receiver Da’Ren Zeno certainly fits that description for Welsh. The senior has over 600 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns and has his Hounds just a game away from completing the Lake Area’s first repeat in 74 seasons.
“Play small town like us, nobody expects us to win it back to back," Da’Ren Zeno added. "That would be great.”
“He’s huge," John Daigle said. "For his senior year he has really stepped up and being a leader and he gets all right. He’s huge.”
Zeno isn’t much for talking. He lets his play on the field do all of it for him.
“At the end of the day, people hold you accountable for what you do and not what you say," John Richardson stated. "That’s the case with him with him being a quiet guy. Our guys know that he is a really good football player and that he will take care of business.”
“They can look at me and tell when I am serious, but sometimes I’m joking with them," said Da’Ren Zeno. "They can tell when I’m serious.”
The Hounds will look once again to Zeno to provide leadership and a spark on the field. In 2017, his two touchdowns helped Welsh build a lead on St. Helena. Zeno understands how important he will be to Welsh’s success vs. Amite.
“I have to make the plays as soon as the ball hits my hands, I have to make a big play,” Da’Ren Zeno said.