Tarpons hungry for a better season in 2012
Fri. August 24, 2012 at 12:11 p.m. | By Teddy Renois/Staff Writer
Key seniors the South Lafourche Tarpons are counting on this seson are quarterback Colby Callais (12), linebacker Braxton Acosta (4), running back Brook Eymard (26), defensive back Devin Blackwell (10) and defensive lineman Donjohrae Marts (44). (Photo by Teddy Renois/Staff)
GALLIANO — The one word that best describes the 2012 South Lafourche Tarpons is hungry.
Replacing former coach Terry Farmer in January, first-year head coach Dennis Skains is hungry to prove that he is prepared for his first-ever head coaching job.
The returning seniors remember a couple of close losses that left the Tarpons with a 5-5 overall record and out of the playoffs in 2011. Those seniors are hungry to prove that the Tarpons are much better than last year's record and a contender in District 7-5A.
This hunger has fueled both the coach and players for the upcoming season and has made Skains' transition as the Tarpons new head coach easy.
"People ask me all the time about the seniors on the team. I think the best way to describe this group is that they are hungry," Skains said. "They are hungry, and they want to win games. They believe that they didn't meet their potential last season. I think they are ready to do that. This senior group is driven and focused. They also like each other. This group really likes each other, and that is the nice thing about this area. The players grow up with each other, played together and it is a benefit."
Even though Skains has had a smooth transition, there were still some bumps along the way.
Skains said that was to be expected as change is never easy no matter how eager the players and community are willing to accept a new coach.
"I don't think it is ever as smooth as you want it to be. Change is always difficult and it is something that no one likes. We are all creature of habit, whether it is players and coaches," Skains said. "It was an adjustment period for everybody, and it is still going on to some extent. I think everyone is getting adjusted to it, and the players understand what we are trying to do. When everyone starts believing in it then we will get success, and we are starting to see that."
One adjustment the players had to make was an increased tempo at practice.
The Tarpons will remain in a multiple-offense with little difference from last season, except for the pace at which it is executed.
Senior quarterback Colby Callais said the faster tempo has helped players get in better shape, which should be a benefit throughout the season.
"It is a faster-paced offense. Our lineman and receivers are in great shape and we are working hard. We believe this offense will work for us," Callais said. "We have taken on the challenges that he has brought to us. I'm comfortable with (the offense) and this team. I want to be a leader and take on that challenge."
One formation Tarpon fans will see in 2012 is the spread. However, don't think that the Tarpons will start throwing the ball 30 times the game. The offense, no matter the formation, will be based on the running game, and senior running back Brook Eymard said that scheme fits the talent.
"We really want to mix it up with a lot more spread. We have guys that can play different positions, and we want to get everyone the ball," Eymard said. "It is going great, and we are coming together. The practices are tough, but we are pushing through. We really are trying to pick it up and stay up on the ball so that when the whistle blows we are ready to run the next play."
The Tarpons defense has been on the other side of the fast-paced offense trying to keep up and learn a new scheme. The base defense will be a 4-3 with different responsibilities for the players.
It has been steep learning curve for the defense, but one that the players are overcoming.
"We have a new system, and I think we are learning it well. We are getting better and we keep improving," senior defensive tackle Donjohrae Marts said. "It is more responsibility than last year, and you have to protect your gaps. If you don't do your job, it will really show. I think we have more people dedicated and hungry. The younger kids want it as bad as we do and that has given (the seniors) lots of help."
An area of strength for the defense is its linebackers and secondary with several seniors holding down spots.
Senior defensive back Devin Blackwell said the scheme is more aggressive and the players are adjusting.
"It is a change in everything. Last year, we did a lot of man (coverage), and we were doing some Cover 2 with a lot of reading," Blackwell said. "We are going to be a lot more aggressive and run to the ball. We will be faster and we are very hungry to make a run at (district)."
Senior linebacker Braxton Acosta said the defense might be small, but it will still pack a punch.
"Our defense is a lot smaller, but we are faster and aggressive. We fly to the ball and our offense doesn't gain much (at practice). When they do, it is usually a busted play on our part," Acosta said. "We are going to try to keep our mistakes limited. We work on the mental part a lot. We have had physical practices and mental practices. We want to stay hungry and go for all the wins."
While there have been changes, Skains said he doesn't want to change South Lafourche's reputation for toughness.
Skains got a quick history lesson of Tarpon tradition once he was hired, and he passed it along to his players whether they were aware of it or not. It is a tradition Skains wants to build on and the players want to be a part of.
"When South Lafourche was at its peak, what did people say? They were tough. Every kid knows who Ralph Pere is and they know about his teams. Win or lose, people knew when they played South Lafourche. Win or lose, people knew they were in a fight for 48 minutes and that is what we want to bring back," Skains said. "I think (the fans) will see kids that will work hard and be a disciplined team. Win or lose, people will know when they play South Lafourche. We are going out there expecting to win and there is no consolation prize. The kids want and expect to win no matter whoever is on the field."