by Hunter Bower // GeauxPreps.com Owner
In what may be one of the most competitive races in North Louisiana, two teams have been chosen to vie for superiority in District 1-2A.
Jonesboro-Hodge (3-4 in 2020) is one of the those teams and is ready to compete despite not having as many in numbers compared to the 2020 season. However, head coach Terrance Blankenship is blessed with a core group of starters returning this fall.
The ninth-year head coach brings back seven of his offensive starters and eight return on defense. The duo of quarterback Tydre Malone, who threw 10 touchdowns, and tailback LaJavion Nichols, who had over 500 yards on the ground along with six touchdowns, look to lead the fray on the offensive side.
Where Blankenship is most focused is getting his linemen ready to protect the pass and run. The stature will play a big part in helping to gain yards through the air and in the trenches but the Tigers mentor hopes to have that line playing exceptionally well in November.
“We’ll be bigger on the line than we have been in the past,” said Blankenship. “If we can get the offensive line to gel together I believe that we can be very competitive and compete for a district title. I’m excited about this year’s team.”
On defense, Jonesboro-Hodge will also rely on Nichols, who recorded 52 solo tackles, seven for a loss. JaMarriyea Lewis will also be a key factor in stopping offensive attacks in open space. He intercepted two passes last season.
The North Caddo Titans captured their second consecutive crown in an undefeated district campaign last season. Head coach Johnny Kavanaugh will no doubt have his squad read to defend for a third straight season and will have the warhorses to do so.
On offense, the Titans return six starters including one of the hottest recruting names in Omarion Miller (6-2, 198) who caught 29 passes for 807 yards in a COVID-19 shortened season.
However, the starting quarterback position will be up for grabs and will have multiple, talented athletes ready to take the reins of the spread offense that Kavanaugh has mentored over the last three seasons.
“Our offense should be more dynamic,” said Kavanaugh. “Big time playmaker Omarion Miller will force teams to play safe in the secondary and we will have multiple strong armed quarterback’s. Whoever wins the job will have the ability to push it deep. Our run game should be strong with KJ Black back to bring the workhorse.”
Defensively, North Caddo brings back six of its starting unit from last season and will be led by defensive end Zadarrin Evans, Kentrell Potter and Gianni Black.
“I expect our defense to be strong on the back end, if we can put together a string box our defense will be very solid,” said Kavanugh.
The Titans will play with a chip on their shoulder after being ousted in the final seconds of last year’s 56-54 second round loss at home to General Trass. With the offensive weapons returning and the strong defensive showing expected to play, there is no doubt that the District 1-2A title runs through Sanders Prudhomme Stadium over in Vivian in 2021.
Lakeside looks to bounce back from a injury/COVID laden campaign from a year ago and provide some upsets in district play. The Warriors return 14 lettermen from last season, including seven offensive starters.
“We will be solid on both sides of the ball,” said head coach Mike Santelices. “Over the past couple of years, we were strong on only one side of the ball. Now we need to be good on both sides to be good.”
Quarterback Jacob Whitehead is expected to lead the crew of veterans and use his experience gained as a sophomore starter to provide an offensive attack that could leave defenders second guessing.
“Our quarterback will be a junior with a year under his belt so I’m looking for him to take on a leadership role and take control of our offense,” said Santelices.
D’Arbonne Woods will have a new head coach roaming the sidelines this fall. However, that coach is no stranger to success.
Tommy Tharp takes over a Timberwolves program that has struggled for most of its young program history. However, the veteran coach looks to right the ship and lead his team to victories and playoff appearances quickly.
Tharp led Mangham to appearances in the state championship three times during his tenure with the Dragons.
D’Arbonne Woods is expected to field its most experienced team in 2021 with eight returning on offense and seven on defense.
They’ll be led on offense by senior fullback Gavin Rawls (63 carries for 276 yards, 2 touchdowns) and junior athlete Carlos Alejo, who played halfback, backup QB, strong safety and kick returner.
Defensively, FS Raegan Walker (45 tackles) returns as the leader on defense, making all the calls for the Timberwolves multiple defense.
2021 District 1-2A Preseason Coaches’ Poll
|Place||School (first-place votes)||Points|
|T1.||North Caddo (2)||8|
Coaches could not vote for their own team.
D’Arbonne Woods Timberwolves
Coach: Tommy Tharp (1st year)
2020 Record: 1-5, missed playoffs
Starters returning O/D: 8/7
Key Players: FB/DL Gavin Rawls (5-11, 215); OL/DL Ethan Ice (5-10, 245); ATH Carolos Alejo (5-9, 190)
Quote from Tharp: “The Timberwolves should field their most experienced team in 2021 after two years of starting underclassmen at many positions.”
Coach: Terrance Blankenship (9th season)
2020 Record: 3-4, lost in first round of playoffs
Starters returning O/D: 7/8
Key Players: QB Tydre Malone (6-2, 180); WR/FS DeVontae Mozee (6-1, 175); WR/SS JaMarriyea Lewis (6-1, 180); WR/CB/KR Justin Calahan (5-9, 180); RB/LB LaJAvion Nichols (6-0, 200);
Quote from Blankenship: “Our numbers are down from last year, but this year’s team has a good nucleus of skill guys.”
Coach: Mike Santelices (3rd season)
2020 Record: 1-4, missed playoffs
Starters returning O/D: 7/5
Key Players: OL Kris Redden (6-1, 290); LB Kobe Mangrum (6-0, 205); ATH Tarrio Grigsby (5-7, 145); LB Ty Manness (6-0, 180); S Cade Boley (5-11, 170); LB Brayson Cummings (6-2, 190)
Quote from Santelices: “We look to be solid on both sides of the ball. The last few years, we were strong in just one unit but now we look to have both sides prepared for a solid season.”
North Caddo Titans
Coach: J.J. Kavanaugh (4th season)
2020 Record: 5-4, lost in second round of playoffs
Starters returning O/D: 6/6
Key Players: WR Omarion Miller (6-2, 198); WR Demarcus Williams (6-1, 185); RB K.J. Black (5-10, 215); DE Zadarrin Evans (6-0, 200)
Quote from Kavanaugh: “We have multiple strong armed quarterback’s. Whoever wins the job will have the ability to push it deep.”