No more three’s
PINE PRAIRIE -- According to School House Rocks, three is a magic number.
Over the last five years, it seems as if the Pine Prairie football program has taken that phrase to heart. Since 2013, the
Panthers have won three games each and every gridiron campaign. Getting over the hump and making history once again is what head coach Yves Prince and his young squad look to do this coming season.
“We have had our chances to get beyond that three-win total,” stated Prince. “But we always seem to fall short in one or two of our losses. Our kids have worked really hard this past off season and are hungry to get the opportunity to make it to the playoffs for the first time in school history. For us to reach that goal, we are going to have to get off to a good start at the beginning of the season.”
Getting off to a good start will be a tough task for the Panthers, as they will be road warriors for the first four games of the season. Already, Pine Prairie was scheduled to travel to Tioga, Ville Platte and Church Point.
However, in week three, the Panthers will have to travel to Beau Chene, as the game from last year was changed to a home game at the last minute do to abundant amount of rain that fell that week.
“It will be a challenge for us to be on the road for that amount of time,” said Prince. “The good thing is we have some returning veterans on the team. I am hoping they will be able to lead the rest of the team through that time. I truly think if we can get two or three wins in those first four games, we will be on the right track for a good season.”
Offensively, the Panthers return one of the most dynamic running backs around the area. Senior JJ Sims, an all-district and all-parish selection last year, comes back off of a 1,500+ yard performance in 2017. His health and performance will definitely be a key factor in the outcome of Pine Prairie’s season.
“JJ has really bulked up and gotten stronger this season,” commented Prince. “If we can just get him past the defensive front, he is really hard to tackle and has the speed to blow past people. We just need for him to stay healthy and give him a chance to get into open space.”
The players up front on the offensive line will be a major cog in the plan to get Sims his yards. Back from last year up front are Matthew Durouselle, a converted tight end, Corey Higgonbotham and Landon Johnson. Joining that cast up
front will be Kenyon Murray and JT Thomas.
Behind center, calling the plays in the huddle, will be Damon Malveaux. The senior was hurt last season with a knee injury, but is ready to play again according to Prince.
“Damon will give us that other dimension in the passing game,” said Prince. “He looks good throwing the ball, we just have to get him some time to get the passes off.”
Catching those passes will be senior receivers Isaiah Payne and Kyler Carson.
Defensively, Pine Prairie hung their hat on a 4-2-5 scheme that held four of their opponents to 14 points or less last season. This year, Prince will take that scheme and hope to improve upon it, in hopes of getting more production out of that unit.
“We are going to practice on installing the 4-3 this year, but our main defensive set will be out of the 4-2-5,” stated Prince. “We had some success in that defense last season. The reason for putting in some 4-3 concepts is that teams will spread you out at times and I feel we have to be able to switch defenses in those instances.”
Anchoring the defense will be returners Joel Franks, Landon Johnson, Isaiah Payne, Matthew Durouselle and Kyler Carson.
“We won’t be big up front on defense, but I think we will be more explosive coming off of the ball,” commented Prince. “We intend to blitz a little more this year, hopefully that will allow us to penetrate and put pressure on the offense. I think it will also make up for our size difference.”