ST. AMANT, LA (WAFB) - St. Amant head coach, David Oliver, has some big shoes to fill with the loss of quarterback Hayden Mallory and Warrick Dunn Award finalist Briggs Bourgeois, but is hoping 36 seniors who were part of a magical 11-2 season will build on what they started.
Oliver and his Gators say a silver lining from the historic flood of August 2016 that rendered their campus useless, was the Saturdays teammates spent hunting, fishing, and tailgating together and with their families at college games. Those moments for bonding and team unity might not have been possible with a regular routine that would have required film study and Saturday meetings on campus. St. Amant shared the Dutchtown campus for classes and those meetings, but the Griffins had use of the facility on Saturdays, forcing the Gators to hold them on Sunday.
Former WAFB Player of the Week Cade Nelson returns at running back for his senior season, but Oliver says most of the Gators' experience lies on defense, where the front seven is especially strong with nose guard Johnny Johnson and tackles Jacob Furlow and Brandon Bell. Senior safety Ben Parker is another big plus for a unit that was often overshadowed by a prolific offense, and brilliant special teams play featuring Bourgeois, who signed with Southern Miss.
Oliver says 6-3 senior quarterback Halen Miller is leading a three-man competition to inherit Mallory's starting role, with Kaleb Thompson in the mix. Oliver also pointed out that an undefeated JV team last season is a reason for encouragement, since many of those players saw varsity action as well.