The Northside Vikings expected the 2012 season to be one of struggle and inconsistency, but they eventually hoped that in time they would see significant progress and growth from their players and team as a whole after head coach Trev Faulk was hired so late in the summer.
One player who endured his share of trials in the early part of the season for the Vikings was quarterback Chris Ozene Jr., as he struggled mightily with execution of the offense, accuracy of his passes and costly turnovers that often led to points for the opposition.
But throughout it all, Faulk and his coaching staff never wavered on who their starting quarterback and were confident that despite his struggles Ozene Jr. would put it all together and be the player they expected him to be.
“First of all, I knew coming in the quarterback position is tough to play and may be the toughest position to play in all of sports,” Faulk said. “I knew it’d be a growing process in the first year, so I expected it to take a little bit of time. We had to be patient and let him learn because this is his first time being the guy on any level.”
In his first two games against Acadiana and Carencro, Ozene Jr. was a combined 33-of-73 passing for 440 yards, two touchdowns and seven interceptions. Four of picks were returned for TDs.
But in his last two games against Cecilia and St. Thomas More, Ozene Jr. has completed 44 of 68 passes for 500 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. For the season, Ozene has now completed 101 of 198 for 1,382 yards, 11 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.
“I have definitely made a lot of improvement since the beginning of the season to now,” Ozene Jr. said. “I still have a lot of things to improve on like making quicker reads, reading the entire field and manipulating the defense with my eyes. But I’ve improved my footwork and my accuracy, so I feel really good right now.”
Ozene Jr. wasn’t always feeling good about the situation he was in as he was forced to not only deal with the fact he wasn’t playing up to his expectations but also had to hear all the negative things being said about him outside of the lockerroom.
“You try not to listen to it, but it is hard not to and it is even harder not to let it bother you,” Ozene Jr. said. “But what made all of that worse was the fact the people who were saying all the negative things about me, were people that I thought had my back.”
The negative comments had begun to bother him so much that Ozene Jr. began to wonder if playing football was for him.
“I had to do some soul-searching,” Ozene Jr. said. “I asked myself if this was really meant for me. Once I reassured myself, I talked to coach Trev and my dad (Chris Ozene Sr.) I told them that I refused to let us go down like this and from that point on I just began focusing on the things that I had to do and not about what was being said.”
One of the biggest reasons for Ozene’s struggles was he often tried to do too much in an effort to prove to the coaching staff that he was the right man for the job.
“I wanted to give coach Trev the same type of success at quarterback that he had last year when he was at VC,” Ozene Jr. said. “I really tried to impress him and because of that I found myself trying to do too much with the football.”
“I could tell he was pressing,” Faulk said. “He wanted to prove to me, the coaching staff and his teammates so badly that he was the guy that he tried to do too much.”
Northwest’s Jackson back
The Northwest Raiders are in the midst of a two-game losing streak after beginning the season 5-0, but they received some good news this week.
Senior running back Sadrian Jackson, who leads the Raiders in rushing, missed last week’s game against Church Point as a result of a concussion he sustained on the second offensive possession of the game for Northwest against Eunice.
“Sadrian returned to practice and he has to go through four days of training before they clear him,” Raiders coach Darnell Lee said. “We believe that he should be ready to go on Friday.”
The possible return of Jackson is great news for the Raiders who believe they should be able to get back in a rhythm on offense.
“It’s been extremely tough on us not having Sadrian,” Lee said. “Lewis Valmont did a great job for us, but he is also our starting linebacker. Sadrian is an impact player and it is no doubt that we missed him.”
Pios without Thibodeaux
The Notre Dame Pios have enjoyed the luxury of the two-headed monster backfield of Austin Thibodeaux and Luke Broussard, but for this week and possibly longer they’ll be without one of them.
Thibodeaux, who serves as the Pios’ starting fullback, sustained a sprained knee on the first series against Jennings two weeks ago and has been out ever since. Although no timetable has been set for Thibodeaux’s return, Pios head coach Lewis Cook remains optimistic their stint without him won’t be too long.
“We think that we’re looking at a couple of weeks,” Cook said. “He had the MRI done and it didn’t show any tears or severe damage in the knee, so that was really good. It’s a sprain of the MCL and he should be back in a few weeks. Hopefully he can be back before the regular season ends.”
Acadiana tickets on sale
Advance tickets for Friday’s Acadiana-Carencro football game will be on sale from 5 to 6:30 Wednesday in the front of Acadiana High.
The tickets will be sold for $8.
Follow assistant sports editor Eric Narcisse on Twitter