SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) - We are just three weeks away from KPLC's coverage of TDL: Two-A-Days and to get ready we continue our 7-in-Seven countdown.
Countdowns will include topics from McNeese to high school football. A new countdown each week, beginning every Monday.
We continue the countdown with the top seven Touchdown Live teams this upcoming season.
*These are not head to head rankings. The rankings are in comparison to class.*
7. Welsh Greyhounds (11-4 in 2018)
The Welsh Greyhounds see its fair share of change coming into a new season. Very few starters are left from the 2017 Class 2A state championship team and the Hounds too are going through a coaching change.
John Richardson left Welsh this offseason to coach Westlake and offensive coordinator Cody Gueringer was promoted to head coach. The Hounds must also deal with plenty of roster turnover, but this is still a team of players who know nothing else but winning.
Offensively, Welsh was hit the hardest by graduation with only three starters returning. For the third straight season, the Hounds will start a new quarterback in week one. Gavan Guillory and Landen Broussard will compete for the job in camp. One of the few starters returning is at running back with Jaheim Simon. Simon came onto the scene a year ago for Welsh as he rushed for 1,185 yards in just 12 games. Keegan LaBouve will look to fill an important H-back role for the offense. The Hounds lose wideout Da'Ren Zeno and will look to a committee to replace his production. Ethan Theriot will bring his toughness to the wide receiver position, while Landen Broussard and Ethan LeBlanc will be relied on as well in the passing and running game. The offensive line only returns two starters in Garren Hebert and Gavin Richard, but the Hounds' replacements in Kaden LaBouve, Darren Benoit and Rhett Davis all have some experience.
The Welsh defense doesn't have quite the learning curve as six starters return. Linebacker will be the defense's strength as Jevin and Kaden LaBouve bring a mean streak to a leadership position. The defensive line has a pair of experienced ends in Darren Benoit and Keegan LaBouve. The dynamic duo played together at the Superdome and are both physical and versatile. At defensive tackle, Garren Hebert will swing over from offense and freshman Kaden Cormier will aim to take his first steps to an electric high school career. Will Green and Collin Richard will man the cornerback position while Kade Miller and Austin VanNess will play strong safety. At the back of the defense, Landon Watkins will once again be relied upon to be a big play eraser and to dictate coverage to his teammates.
The Hounds will enter 2019 hungry to prove their run as 2A powers is far from over. This next group of Hounds will aim to continue the legacy of winning like the classes before them.
6. Barbe Buccaneers (8-3 in 2018)
The Barbe Bucs have been a model of consistency for the Lake Area for a number of seasons. The Bucs have won seven or more games every year since 2006 and the school hasn’t suffered through a losing season since 1977. The Bucs are usually destined for a list like this because of it.
Offensively, the Bucs have plenty to replace with the loss of quarterback Luke Richard being the biggest. Barbe welcomes back four starters on offense with the most experience coming on the offensive line. Hunter Brown is an anchor along with returning starter Logan Nettles. Brown is the best offensive lineman to come out of Barbe in years and is committed to Air Force. At quarterback, an interesting battle is brewing between Davis Meche and Asa Higginbotham. Meche has experience on his side playing in a few games at QB down the stretch in 2018, while also being a veteran starter on defense. However, Higginbotham has impressed coaches so far and can't be counted out in the race. Dylan Lewis leads a stable of running backs for the Bucs that include Devin Bates, Chase Ardoin and Tylan Ceasar. Lewis is a bigger back at 6'0, 225 pounds and brings power while the other backs rely more on speed and quickness. Chandler Ware meanwhile, leads a young receiver corps that is going to use fall camp to determine the rotation.
The Bucs defense has much more experience with seven starters back. The front seven has plenty starting on the defensive line with Hayden Singleton and Brandon White. Singleton is considered the leader of the defense thanks to his work ethic. At linebacker, Trenton Bono returns along with Chandler Sweeney who has plenty of Friday night playing time. Barbe feels good about the safety positions with three experienced veterans. Meche will play at safety and may be used in an iron man role as will Dylan Lewis. D'Shawn Brown rounds out the safety position. The Bucs were hit hard by graduation at cornerback as Barbe lost both of its starters from 2018. Fall camp will help decide who leads the way there.
Barbe has plenty of holes to fill during the month of practice coming up, but the Bucs should still be favored in most of their games.
5. Kinder Yellow Jackets (7-5 in 2018)
The Kinder Yellow Jackets have been one of the most consistent teams over the last decade, but recently thanks to a strong district and the loss of arguably the greatest senior class in Jacket history, Kinder has put together back-to-back seven-win seasons.
However, this is the season the Jackets may get back to a double-digit win total with 16 starters returning.
On offense, the Jackets return eight total starters, including a three-year starter in quarterback Hayes Fawcett. His development increased this offseason with the addition of former Sulphur coach and Kinder quarterback Justin Reed to the coaching staff. Reed's track record with Sulphur QB's like Morgan Clark and Byron Walker speaks for itself. Kinder has plenty of talent and experience in the backfield as well with Todd Fuselier at dive back and slot backs CJ May and Skyler Leckelt. Fuselier returns off an injury after averaging over 100 yards per game a season ago. The Jackets are deep at receiver with a corps that includes Landon LeBoeuf, Darius Captain, William Fontenot and Trevor Cole. Where the team's experience will really shine is the offensive line with four starters from 2018 returning. Tyler Hayes, Jack Roberts, DJ Moore and Braylyn Larce make up a group that will be relied upon to make the Kinder ground and pound offense work.
The Jacket defense is equally as experienced with eight starters back. It starts on the defensive line with the combo of defensive end Bryce Savant and tackle Jarron Toups. Larce, Tyler Hayes and Collin South will all be expected to contribute on the line as well. Linebacker should continue to be a strength with Owen Bourque, Gavin Johnson and Hunter Pelican. Cornerback will see a few faces play with Makalean Trahan, Deonota Fontenot and May leading the way. Leckelt returns at safety after leading the team in interceptions last season and Hayden Yates will join him in the secondary.
Kinder should benefit from the extra experience given out to underclassmen last season and a familiar district.
4. Oberlin Tigers (10-3 in 2018)
The Oberlin Tigers have been on quite the roll over the past three seasons. The Tigers have averaged just under nine wins per year during that stretch including winning 10 games in 2018. The team returns plenty of talent off last year's quarterfinal squad.
The returning experience is most notable on the offensive side of the football. Quarterback Levi Peloquin is one of seven returning starters and he's entering his third season behind center. All in all, Oberlin returns every skill position starter from a season ago. Collin Chatman returns after leading the team in rushing (1,144 yards, 10 touchdowns), while Trevor Rider (880 yds, 14 TD) and Cheyanne Citizen (459 yds, 2 TD) will provide plenty of highlights as well. Citizen missed considerable time due to injury last year. Leading receiver Jared Joubert is back in the fold after hauling in 80% of the team's catches in 2018. The offensive line is where the lack of experience may hurt the Tigers as only Alex Fontenot and Taylor Manuel are returning starters.
Oberlin has even starting experience on the defensive side of the ball with eight players back. The defensive line will be led by Adam Patrick, Levi Peloquin and Cheyanne Citizen. Citizen was a force in the seven games he played totaling 41 tackles with nine resulting in a loss of yards. Last season's team MVP Collin Chatman is back at linebacker after totaling over 120 tackles and joining him will be Alex Fontenot (98 tackles) who switches over from strong safety. The Tiger secondary also returns all four starters in cornerbacks Seth Rider and Jaden Johnson, along with safeties Jonathan Cole and Trevor Rider. The backend of the defense was responsible for causing 12 turnovers a year ago.
The Tigers are a senior-laden bunch that will rely on experience to make a deep run and continue the school’s tradition.
3. Leesville Wampus Cats (13-1 in 2018)
The Wampus Cats were a force in 2018, rolling off an undefeated regular season and getting to the semifinals for the first time since 1995. The Cats lose a couple of FBS linemen in Matthew Anderson (Nebraska) and Brett Pope (Louisiana Tech) off the team but still retain a bulk of special athletes.
Quarterback Jacob Mount is back to lead a group of five returning starters. Mount stepped up in 2018, throwing over 2,000 yards and 24 touchdowns in the process. His deep knowledge of the offense and the ability not to get rattled will aid the Cats this season. The Gallashaw duo of D'ante and Caleb will give defenses headaches as once again they'll be the foundation of the offense. D'ante was a force last year rushing for nearly 1,500 yards and eight touchdowns while Caleb contributed 780 yards on the ground and scored 11 times. The receiving corps loses leading receiver Duwon Tolbert, however Darius Sawyer (54 receptions, 481 yards, five touchdowns) and tight end Noah Allain (23 rec, 461 yds, eight TD) return following big seasons. The Wampus Cats are hoping the talented and experienced skill positions will make it easier on an offensive line that must replace three college signees.
2018 saw Leesville's defense allow 18 or fewer points seven times. Bad news for the Cats is that they must replace nine starters from a year ago with only defensive back Darius Allen and linebacker Chris Davis returning. The defensive line has plenty of new faces with Gabe Grant, Christian Sage Tyler Javery and Damarius Potter aiming to contribute. Davis statically leads the linebacking corps and will line up besides Efosa Evbuomwan and Christian Patterson. The Wampus Cat secondary will see Darius Allen play multiple positions and Chris Tyler, Keremi Stander and Chris Patterson expected to play big roles too.
Leesville has its work cut out for it losing a strong senior class, however, the Wampus Cats will be relining on the culture of the program to have the next wave of players ready to go.
2. Iota Bulldogs (13-1 in 2018)
The Iota Bulldogs were the class of 3A last season all the way up to the semifinal round of the playoffs. The Dogs have effectively changed the trajectory of the program after winning just three games from 2014-16.
Last season's No. 1 seed has plenty to replace, yet Iota still returns 12 starters from a year ago.
The offensive end sees running back Luke Doucet and five others return to the fold. Doucet led the Dogs with 1,876 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns a season ago and the senior added 10-pounds in the offseason while improving in the receiving game. Multi-year starting quarterback Trae Rambin is gone, but Iota will replace him with converted wideout Dawson Wallace. Wallace brings a big arm and speed to the position. Receiver Tyrone Charlot is back to bring an explosive weapon to both the return and passing game. Zan Conner will add his speed to the receiver corps as well in addition to touchdown machine Micah Renfro at tight end. The offensive line should still be a strength with all-district first-teamer Connor Braquet back in the mix. Wyatt Shuff is a returning starter as well and he'll line up alongside Nick Hebert and Ashton Breaux.
Iota's 4-3 defense will see the return of all four down lineman. Ethan Zaunbrecher and Dakell Thibodeaux will man the end position, while Dylan Montgomery and Chris Newman return at defensive tackle. Montgomery is the leader of the line and while undersized, he makes up for it with his strength and hands. Iota lost LSU preferred walk-on Tayte Langley at linebacker, however, the Bulldogs may be a faster linebacker corps in 2019. Brayden Hebert, Landon Doucet, Seth Shuff, Cody Hebert and Trevor Lopez will battle it out for the three linebacker spots to round out the front seven. Another position Iota lost plenty of talent at is cornerback. Four players will compete for the two starting jobs. Owen Daigle, Tyler Charlot, Parker Hayes and Grant Callahan will compete at corner. Safety Andrew Ashby is the leader in the secondary and will be moved around both in the box and in two-high looks. At the other safety will be Jeb Decuir and Daylon Lunson competing for a role.
The Bulldogs welcome back plenty of experience and a winning culture that shouldn’t be slowed anytime soon.
1. LCCP Trailblazers (11-2 in 2018)
LCCP has completed its turnaround as the Blazers were the 'Top Suprise Team' in the area last year and in 2019, the Blazers are our preseason pick for the best team in the area. LCCP possesses a blend of speed and elite talent that no one else in the area can match.
Last season, the defense helped carry the Blazers to the quarterfinal round, however, this edition of LCCP will be led by the offense. The Trailblazers welcome back eight starters including third-year quarterback Dillon Simon. The rising junior took another step forward this offseason after throwing for over 2,000 yards and 22 touchdowns last year. Simon attended multiple camps over the past few months were he was clocked with a 4.44 40-time. Joining Simon in the backfield is a slew of experienced ball carriers. Orenthal Lewis and his bruising style is back following a 1,000-yard season, while sophomore TreVonte' Citizen is hoping to carve out a roll after receiving offers to Penn State and Mississippi State this summer. The receiving corps is the team's strength as leading receiver Glynn Johnson (34 receptions, 723 yards, 10 touchdowns) returns, as does four-star Solomon Lewis (36 rec, 562 yds, 6 TD) and Jaylen Joseph (26 rec, 273 yds, 3 TD). On the offensive line, Gabe Rankins and Marcus Francis are the anchors with Darius Green expected to start following doing so in the playoffs last year.
The defense only welcomes back four starters, but the Blazers are confident to still be a solid unit after not allowing a touchdown during spring scrimmages. On the defensive line, Treveon Henry is back following a 115-tackle season. He'll be joined by Rankins, Jahmicah Narcisse and John Henry. Another tackling machine, Tyler Carter, is back to lead the linebackers after posting 140 last year. Orenthal Lewis and Citizen will play linebacker too. The secondary is where LCCP takes a hit. Despite losing a pair of first-team all-district players, Solomon Lewis and Gabe Starland will look to fill the void at cornerback. At safety, Kylin Andrus is a coach on the field and should help navigate the Blazers through the early learning curve.
The Blazers have five players that run sub-4.6 40-times and LCCP is hoping that its speed helps set it apart from the rest of the district.