Callahan brings positive attitude to Trojans
Fri. August 24, 2012 at 1:00 p.m. | By Teddy Renois/Staff Writer
Senior offensive lineman Brodi Hill (76), junior nose guard Garland Sylvester (32), senior free safety J.P. Williams (1) and junior quarterback Luke Falgout (4) will try to turn around the Central Lafourche Trojans' fortunes this season. (Photo by Teddy Renois/Staff)
MATHEWS — The Central Lafourche Trojans hope the third time is the charm when it comes to their head football coach.
For the third straight year, the Trojans begin a season under a different head coach.
After Chad Callais resigned following the 2010 season, Travis Douglas took over the reins for 2011.
Before spring practice began in preparation for the 2012 season, Douglas was hired as the school's athletics director and feeling that it would be difficult to do both jobs, he resigned as head football coach.
Enter John Callahan, an experienced coach who was working in Vermont but had ties to Louisiana which started when he was a graduate assistant at LSU in the 1970s.
Getting hired right before the start of spring practice, then having to complete his move to Mathews, Callahan leaned on his assistant coaches to oversee the offseason program and help him adjust to his new surroundings.
"When I first came back, it was the third week of June and they had already started the summer weights. I took over and finished that off. There were a few seven-on-seven scrimmages that they had done, so for the football part of it that is what I did," Callahan said. "We started conditioning a couple of weeks ago as a group. We had done a lot of things previous to (fall camp) to get ready. We have most of our offense in, and the kids appear to know what they are doing. Since we haven't played against anyone, I will have a better idea once we play an opponent."
While Callahan still questions whether his players fully understand his schemes, the players should have no question about his knowledge.
Callahan brings 35 years of coaching experience to the Trojans and has had experience in turning downtrodden programs into state champions.
Callahan led Mount St. Joseph Academy (Vt.) to the 2005 Division I state title, but before he was hired, the program had won just one game in two years.
Callahan inherits a Trojans team that was 1-9 last season and last made the state playoffs in 2009.
Callahan understood that he would meet some resistance from the older players, but so far, everyone is coming together to help this program get better.
"I think it would affect the older kids. I told people and I told the players that I realize that I am the third coach in three years. There has been a lack of consistency, and you certainly can't build a pro gram if you are changing head coaches every year. That has been an issue, and it is an issue right now until there is consistency with the head coach," Callahan said. "I think there is potential here. I think we have to develop leadership with our older guys, but overall, the work ethic is one thing I like to see improve. That is something that comes during the offseason, but I wasn't here. They have, however, shown the willingness to learn."
Besides another new coach, the Trojans are going to change their offense, but it is one that the veteran players have seen before.
Gone is the single-wing from last season and in its place is the veer.
Under Callais, the Trojans ran the double-slot triple option offense, so introducing the veer and its triple-option principals was nothing new to the seniors.
"The offense is more downhill blocking, and it shows who is the better man out there in different situations," senior offensive lineman Brodi Hill said. "It might not be exciting, but we want to get five yards a carry and burn the clock. Our seniors have been through it all. Some of us have started since our sophomore years and been through some tough years. We are looking at the upside because it is our senior year, and we want to win some games this year."
Running the offense is junior quarterback Luke Falgout.
Falgout, who finished last season as the starter, said he likes Callahan's ability to call plays, and he sees this offense being successful, if not flashy.
"He really understands offense and how to call certain plays against defenses. He is a real good play caller," Falgout said. "I am getting more used to the speed and the more we play, the more confident we are in the offense. We get better on every repetition, and I like that we are balanced. We can run and throw."
Defensively, the Trojans will make a slight change in formation, but the scheme remains to same with Douglas staying on as defensive coordinator.
The Trojans are switching to a 3-4 base defense due to the athleticism of their linebackers and secondary players.
Senior free safety J.P. Williams said the defense fits the players, but he is more excited about the new attitude that Callahan has brought to the program.
"He is a real good coach, and he came in with a new attitude and provided a spark to the program. Last year, it was like everyone wasn't ready to play. He came in and everyone is more ready to play," Williams said. "It is coming along great. We have some bigger guys on the line, and we do have some linebackers and returning defensive backs that are athletic. We feel we can handle adversity this year, and we are more disciplined. That is what (Callahan) has stressed for us, to be more disciplined."
Junior defensive tackle Garland Sylvester said the defensive line has size and will shift into different fronts to confuse opponents.
"We do have three defenses, but our line is fast and powerful. We are quick off the ball and we are learning new techniques to get off blocks," Sylvester said. "We all got stronger over the summer, and we had a lot of people come to the summer workouts. Everyone is more confident, and we are confident with our new coach. We really feel good about the (upcoming) season."
Confidence was a problem for the Trojans last season.
Callahan said the way to build confidence is by having success on the football, but the true test is how players react to adversity.
"It is just the way it is, and it is what we inherited. I don't see any problems yet. Once the season starts, then we will see how people feel. When you are winning games, everyone is happy, but when you lose, that is when the real test comes," Callahan said. "I talked to them about that and what can happen when we are not doing well. When you are winning it is great and easy and practice is good. When you are losing it is tougher. We have to learn to play hard and play with confidence. When someone makes a mistake, they have to put it past them and the team needs to encourage them, not tear them down."