Bulldogs look to repeat as district champs
IOTA – Last year, the Bulldogs had its best season since winning the state championship in 1999.
Iota finished 13-1 overall, won the District 5-3A title and advanced to the semifinals.
The Bulldogs entered the state playoffs last season, opening with a 49-0 win over Kipp Renaisance.
The Bulldogs went on to defeat Baker 31-14 and North Webster 21-14 before a 21-12 loss to Sterlington.
Josh Andrus is entering his fifth season as the Bulldogs head coach and the Iota faifthful are excited about the possibliities in 2019.
Before 2017, Iota hadn’t experienced a winning season since 2008 and had gone 0-10 during the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
“Because of the stuff those guys had had been through they know how to fight through adversity,” Andrus said of the 2018 season. “We were down 12-0 against Church Point and we won the close game against Eunice High – the times we didn’t have our best games against good teams we still found a way to win.”
The Bulldogs appear to have the talent to make another deep run into the playoffs and Andrus said he is excited about the season.
“There is a fine line between confidence and cocky,” Andrus said. “We went undefeated all season until losing in the semifinals – we don’t have to go undefeated, we just want to finish the season with a win.”
Leading the way for the Bulldog offense is first team All-State running back Luke Doucet (5-9, 227) is a true workhorse with punishing strength, tallying 2,367 yards and 26 touchdowns on 224 carries a season ago.
Doucet will be joined in the Bulldog offensive backfield this season by sophomore qurterback Dawson Wallace (6-0, 172) and senior fullback Landon Doucet (5-11, 175).
“I think our offense will be very productive,” the coach said. “But we can’t be one dimentional so defenses can just have to stop one part of the game.”
Returning starters on offense include senior tight ends (Micah Renfro (6-0, 215) and Tyrome Charlot (5-9, 159), Junior Zan Conner (5-9), 152) will be a wide receiver in Iota’s pro style formation.
The offensive line includes senior left tackle Wyatt Shuff (6-4, 285) and senior right tackle (Connor Braquet (6-4, 218).
New starters on offense include sophomore left guard Ashton Breaux (5-10, 204) and sophomore center Nick Hebert (6-1, 262), Right tackle is junior Gage Monceaux (5-10 191).
The kicker for Iota remains Luis Doreteo.
On defense, the Bulldogs defensive line includes senior Dylan Montgomery (6-0, 207) and junior Ethan Zaunbrecher (5-6, 205) along with senior linebacker Brayden Hebert (5-9, 173) and senior Chris Newman (5-9, 246).
Other linebackers include senior Landon Doucet (5-11, 175) along with sophomore Seth Shuff (6-0, 200).
Cornerbacks are senior Parler Hayes (5-7. 146) and junior Grant Callahan (5-9, 165). The safety is senior Andrew Ashby (5-8, 173), along with juniors Jeb Decuir (5-4, 134) and Owen Daigle (6-1, 164),
Dakell Thibodeaux will play defensive end for the Bulldogs.
“We have a few spots to fill and I think competition is always a big deal,” Andrus said. “But with four returning starters on the line, that will be the strength of our defense.”
Eunice High, the Class 3-A champion has moved up in classification and Crowley changed districts, but Andrus said the District 4-3A is still filled with challenges.
“Losing Eunice and Crowley our district isn’t as strong,” Andrus said. “So we have to put a lot of emphasis on the pre-district gsmes to earn power points.”
The Bulldogs scrimmage Vermilion Catholic at home at 6 p.m. on Aug. 22 before traveling to Eunice for the Bobcats’ jamboree on Aug. 30.
“We are trying to find the best 11 guys on both sides of the ball,” Andrus said of the pre-season events. “We want no doubt in our minds we have the best players out there when the season starts.
“For the guys fighting for spots, these two games are important for them.”
Iota opens the regular season at Iowa before home games against Welsh, Lake Arthur and South Beauregard.
The Bulldogs visit North Vermilion on Oct. 4 for the final non-disrict clash.
“Church Point will be a big game as it is our first district game (Oct. 11), “ the coach said. “The Northwest offense will be hard to stop.
“I think us three will fighting for the district championship.”
Mamou, Ville Platte and Pine Prairie could also be improved this season.
“You can’t take it easy any week,” Andrus said. “You can’t take any game for granted - every team has play makers and good athletes.”