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Braves striving to get back to winning ways


Junior wide receiver Chris Harris (11), senior offensive lineman Kyle Barrios (78) and senior defensive back Rindel Charles (9) are all returning starters for the H.L. Bourgeois Braves this season. (Photo by Kelly McElroy/Staff)


— One look at the new road jerseys of the H.L. Bourgeois football team reveals a major change.

In the spot where the word BRAVES used to be on the front of each cut of cloth above the numbers last season, the word PRIDE is now stitched in.

The Braves and second-year head coach Ben Powell are in the midst of trying to bring the pride back to the Braves program.

H.L. Bourgeois hasn't had a winning season or gone to the playoffs since 2007, was 2-8 overall and 0-6 in District 7-5A last season and has gone 10-28 over the last four seasons.

"Last year, we had a new coach, and we were putting in a new system," senior offensive lineman Kyle Barrios said. "Now things are more familiar. We do things the right way, no playing around on the sidelines. It's all business. We are working hard. This is a new year and this is a different team. It's not the Braves you have seen in the last few years."

Senior defensive back Rindel Charles said morale around the program has been good.

"The players are determined to get on the field," Charles said. "When we first got our pads, everybody was excited. Everybody has been coming to workouts. We have some experience this year. This year has been going a lot smoother than last year."

Powell said having a full offseason within the program has been a positive.

"Being familiar with the kids and the coaches and everything else has been great because last year we were just trying to feel things out. We didn't know exactly what we had from a talent standpoint or who was going to fit where," Powell said. "After spending the whole season with them they are a year older, and we have a lot better handle on what people can and cannot do going into the season."

Powell also said he was extremely happy with the team's offseason program.

"This was probably, without any exaggerations, the best offseason I have been a part of as a coach," Powell said. "We have some kids that are really tired of losing, and they are really committed to being successful and winning football games. They are willing to do what they have to do to achieve that. Our numbers over the summer were great."

On offense, Powell pointed to his offensive line as a strength.

"Our offensive line is huge. They average 6-foot-2, 300 pounds," Powell said. "One is 6-4, 375. He is the big one. You have the little one who is 275 pounds. They are physical, and they are going to get after it. They are going to help us be successful. As a defensive staff, you are going to have to plan around those guys first. That is definitely the strength of our offense."

Powell said he is also excited about his defensive backfield.

"Defensively, we have some really athletic guys who can fly to the football in the secondary," Powell said. "Most of those guys were sophomores last year and took their lumps. Now they are older, and they have letters. They are hungry, and they want to be successful."

The Braves have named sophomore Todd Adkins their starting quarterback, but freshman Jake Broggie is also expected to get some time with the varsity team.

"Todd Adkins is our starter, but we are trying to get Jake as many reps as we can," Powell said. "At this point he will be our third-series guy. He is only a ninth grader. As long as he can handle what we keep putting on him, he is going to get some playing time. Both guys have totally different skills sets. Todd is a run, short-pass, zone-read guy, and Jake can throw it deep. He will launch it on you."

Junior wide receiver Chris Harris is expected to be a top playmaker for the Braves.

"We work hard and try to get better every day," Harris said. "We had some confidence last year, but a lot of people weren't sure. This year we are trying to come up and be on top and do better. We just want to go to the playoffs and feel that atmosphere. We want to go out and have fun."