Ville Platte High junior running back Jamal Byers (9) is back for another season with the Bulldogs. Byers and the rest of the team hope to gain momentum from last season and reach the playoffs again this year. Ville Platte opens the season against Sacred Heart in the T-Cotton Bowl. (Gazette file photo)
VILLE PLATTE -- Confidence is a funny thing.
If you have it, things just seem to fall into place.
If you lack it, troubles seem to follow and stack upon one another like the bricks in a wall.
Ville Platte High head coach Jorie Randle believes in self-confidence so much, he preaches it every day to his team.
“Ever since this summer, the main theme has been self-confidence,” stated Randle. “It’s hard for people to believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself. A confident player is a dangerous player. You can see that players step it up another notch when they have that self-confidence.”
Ville Platte will need that confidence once again this season, as they will face off against some excellent competition, especially in arguably the toughest district in Class 2A.
After a 3-8 season last year and an 0-3 beginning to the 2017 campaign, Randle hopes that his team can get off to a better start this year.
“Early season wins will be a tell for us,” said Randle. “I have never put any pressure on our players to win. But, I won’t sugar coat it either, we need to get off to a better start this year. We have some very emotional games to begin the season with, including the T-Cotton Bowl and Pine Prairie. The first three games on the schedule are going to be a true test to see where we are at. Hopefully, we can get a couple of wins in those first games.”
The Bulldogs will remain pat in their offensive scheme, with more looks in the formations. Randle plans to open things up from time to time and even get into some two tight formations to give defenses something more to look at.
Ville Platte returns some tremendous athletes on the offensive side of the ball, including quarterback Brandon Veazie. The upcoming senior has seen a ton of playing time over the past two seasons and can give the Bulldogs that edge in the huddle.
Also returning on offense is their dynamic running back Jamal Byers. The junior showed flashes of brilliance last season and is one of those players that can take it to the house on any give down.
“We are expecting some great things from Jamal this year,” commented Randle. “I feel that he has grown up and is ready to accept the challenge. Brandon definitely has the maturity factor going for him. Experience is the best teacher and Brandon certainly has the experience.”
Up front, Jaden Bellard returns to anchor an offensive line that played well last season. Joining Bellard, is Travian Ardoin, who will come back at guard to help open up holes for Byers and crew.
Another starter from last year that will probably fill a new role is Ernest Roberts. The sophomore looks to move from his H-back position to a wide out, giving Veazie a big, athletic target to throw to.
On the defensive side of the ball, Randle is trying to find players that can step up and play as soon as possible so that he does not have to have guys going both ways.
“Having to play people on both sides of the ball has been our Achilles’ heel the last few years,” said Randle. “If we can get some of our younger players to develop early on, it would give us a chance to rest guys and keep us fresh for the end of the game.”
Returning all-parish defensive lineman Travian Ardoin is set to lead that unit on the field. Linebacker Kyle Williams joins Ardoin as a returning starter and solidifies the middle of the Bulldog defense.
In the secondary, Terrian Roy and Tyler Jones hold down the cornerback spots.
“There are a still a lot of question marks on the defensive side of the ball,” stated Randle. “We are looking for some players to mature and take ownership of certain positions.