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Thibodaux, Dugas ready to take next step

Thibodaux running back Donta Johnson (4) works on some running drills during Thursday's spring football practice. (Photo by Abby Tabor/Staff)

--Fifth in a 13-part series

The 2011 football season was a learning experience for the Thibodaux Tigers.

Chris Dugas was in his first season as head coach, and the Tigers were in the midst of learning Dugas' new offensive and defensive schemes. The Tigers took their lumps, finishing with a 2-8 overall record and 2-4 in District 7-5A.

Now in his second season, Dugas said he is ready to see the Tigers take the next step. If spring practice is any indication, the Tigers may be on their way to taking that step.

"Last year was an adjustment because we were installing the spread offense," he said. "We really took our lumps because we were doing some different things than what was done in the past. Now, having them acclimated to the offensive and defensive schemes really helps, and I feel that now we are ahead of the game."

With several spring practices already in the books, Dugas said the team has been working hard and has been competing with a lot of intensity on both sides of the ball.

Dugas is not the only person that has noticed the team's overall improvement in the spring practice.

"We are getting after it with every play," said senior-to-be offensive lineman/defensive lineman Kantrell Duncan. "The offense and defense are getting after it on every play. We are all playing with a motor, and we are not stopping until we get the play right."

Running back Donta Johnson, an all-District 7-5A selection last season as a sophomore, said the team has looked good during the spring drills.

"Spring has been going good so far," he said. "The juniors and sophomores are used to this, so this is like a review for us. We are catching onto things a lot more quickly this year."

Dugas said the Tigers' goal for the 2012 season is to make a return trip to the Class 5A state playoffs. Thibodaux has not been to the playoffs since reaching the quarterfinals in 2009.

Duncan said returning to the playoffs is the team's No. 1 goal for this season.

"We want to get back on the winning track," he said. "We want to get back to the playoffs and maybe even make it to state so we can get a ring."

With several key players returning, Dugas said accomplishing those goals are not out of the question.

"We have some excellent starters returning, especially on the offensive side of the ball," Dugas said. "I am expecting big things from our offense in the skill positions. Defensively, we are flying to the football and running, and we have a lot of intensity. We got some guys who were sophomores that took their lumps last year that are coming back, so I think we will be a lot better."

Thibodaux will get a chance to show its fans the progress it has made at an intrasquad scrimmage, scheduled for 5 today.

Dugas said he is excited for the upcoming season, and the players are committed to working throughout the summer. Thibodaux is also scheduled to host South Terrebonne in a fall scrimmage on Aug. 17.

"The spring has been going real well, and we are going to just transition into our summer program and seven-on-seven," he said. "Our kids can't wait until the scrimmage against South Terrebonne. They are excited and ready to play right now."

Duncan said he is also excited for the start of the 2012 season.

"I'm very excited for the football season," he said. "We are ready to play and ready to get after it."

Coming Saturday: Assumption