DONALDSONVILLE, La. (WAFB) - Stop No. 25 for Sportsline Summer Camp is with the Ascension Catholic Bulldogs, as we continue our tour of south Louisiana high school football teams.
Back-to-back dome appearances in 2017 and 2018 brought Ascension Catholic back to prominence in Class 1A, and although 2019 ended with a first-round playoff loss, the Bulldogs still finished the year an impressive 10-1 record.
Everybody knows about the quarterback but the player who hardly gets any shine is the person who hikes him the ball.
“Nobody thinks about the center until the snap sails over the quarterback’s head, and then, everybody wants to know who the heck the center is,” said head coach Benny Saia.
It’s just one of the big positions that Saia has to fill on his Ascension Catholic team that lost nine seniors off last year’s 10-win quarterfinal team. One of those seniors was Warrick Dunn Award finalist, running back Jai Williams.
“Every school graduates. As they get to 12th grade, you have to figure out a way to plug in the holes behind them and our guys are accepting the challenge to do that and hard work and execution and doing things the right way. It’s going to be more of a team effort than turn around to hand the ball off to Jai and everybody watches him run down the field,” Saia explained.
“We got a running back, Khai, No. 2,” said senior linebacker Jacob Dunn. “He is coming back this year, he’s a sophomore. He’s going to be able to replace Jai and I think he’s going to do a good job taking over that role.”
Another trait that could be different for the Bulldogs is the margin of victory. After winning all of their 2019 contests by an average of 30 points, Saia said he is expecting a lot more grit and grind this time around.
“We may not beat people the way we did last year. It might be 21 to 20 but we still have to find a way to win. Our starters did not play in the second half the last six or seven games of the season. I thought it hurt us in the end because you need to be in those games where you need to grind it out and find a way. This year, I think we will play four quarters,” Saia added.
In the last three years, Ascension Catholic is 26-4 in the regular season and 7-3 in the playoffs.
The Bulldogs were grinding it out this week as they hope to improve and make a deeper push in the postseason. Saia said his first year at the school couldn’t have gone any smoother but he’s got his work cut out for him in his second year, with nine seniors gone and many of them at the skill positions.
However, they do return a lot of depth in the trenches, an area that Saia believes will be a strength of this 2020 group.
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