LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - The LCCP Trailblazers had a breakout 2018 that saw the Blazer reach the quarterfinal round in just their second Class 3A season. LCCP is now focused on not letting anything, including mother nature, stand in its way of achieving more.
"We are just trying to get a ring. We're excited," said LCCP cornerback Gabriel Starlard. "We're out here working, look at the weather it doesn't matter we're out here working."
"The boys are excited about being hunted and it's the first time we've been in the situation," admitted LCCP coach Erick Franklin. "You never know what you can do until you become the person that is being hunted."
And that's the main challenge for LCCP. The Blazers must now balance getting everyone's best shot with the right mindset.
"The kids understand what it takes to win now and they expect to win," said Franklin. "It's hard to get to this point where kids expect to win and when you get them to start thinking about winning and putting the work in like winners do, it excites me."
The confidence for the Blazers begins on offense as LCCP returns eight starters led by quarterback Dillon Simon. The rising junior was an all-district performer after throwing for over 2,000 yards and 21 touchdowns.
"I have seen him progress with just the daily attention to detail. He's a very smart kid and talented kid and one that is never satisfied. He goes to work every week and he in the receivers through 3 to 4 times a week this summer on their own with no coaches around. It's hard to teach that and he's the one behind it all."
The weapons Simon has in the passing game is likely the tops in the area. 4-star receiver Solomon Lewis coupled with Glynn Johnson and Jaylen Joseph is a potent combination for defenses.
"I'm excited for all of the guys that are getting looked at," said running back Orenthal Lewis. "When we play other defenses, we'll get to stretch the field more and we'll get to do a lot more with all these big-time guys out there.
The Blazers also have plenty of mismatches at running back too with the Bull and Bear backfield. Solomon's older brother Orenthal Lewis is the Bull as he leads the way with four-star sophomore TreVonte' Citizen ready to have a breakout season.
“The coaches at the schools that offered TreVonte’ this off-season asked why wasn’t he starting? I told him because we have the district MVP still here. Orenthal Lewis is the guy that we run behind,” said Franklin of Citizen who was offered by Mississippi State and Penn State this summer. “TreVonte’ is going to get his carries and of course he’s going to make a lot of plays, but it’s a very special backfield.”
On the offensive line, three-year starter Gabe Rankins leads the way along with Marcus Francis to make arguably the best offensive line in LCCP history. The two will also swing over to the defense to help alleviate the loss of eight starters.
With a couple of iron man athletes, LCCP still figures to be dominant on defense.
"When you miss someone like a Tavon Alexander, JaCalon Pitre and Shane Bradford— those guys are hard to replace," Franklin admitted. "We have guys that will have double-duties on both sides of the ball."
"We're trying to get everyone under the belt and learning. We have depth and it's going to help us later on in the season," said Starlard. "Everyone knows that we can switch around and we can put Trey at linebacker and Orenthal on the line and it will help us out especially at the defensive backs and receivers, so we can go both ways."
With a drive to win and now the experience, LCCP is hoping to take the next step as a program.
“We had the opportunity last year and it fell through our hands,” Franklin said. “They want it bad and they want to be in New Orleans for the state championship.”