Many coach Jess Curtis delivered some scary news for opponents of the Tigers recently when discussing his team, coming off a memorable Class 2A state championship campaign.
“We have the bulk of our team back from last season,” Curtis told The Times. “And the guys who were backups got a lot of reps in games. We’ve played 30 games in the past two seasons, so everyone is getting to play a lot.”
During last season’s 15-0 run, the Tigers outscored opponents 619-124, posting at least 41 points nine times.
That offensive firepower starts with a pair of 1,200-yard rushers back in the lineup in seniors Kentrell Maxie and James Carhee. Maxie is attracting interest from Grambling and Alcorn State. He and Carhee are the cream, but sophomore A.J. Carter gives Curtis and company something even more to smile about. Carter is a 6-foot-1, 205-pound bruiser with speed.
“He may be the best back I’ve seen come through here in a while,” Curtis said. “A.J. also plays free safety for us.”
The Tigers certainly will be the team carrying a bulls-eye and one that the other District 3-2A teams will be trying to match. Pickering, Oakdale, Bunkie, Menard and Rosepine have solid clubs but they all should be playing for second place behind Many, which is still relishing in a second consecutive trip to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
“It’s been crazy and expectations are through the roof,” Curtis said. “It’s great to keep the wheels in motion. Our season tickets are selling out and we’ve had people standing on the track. Most nights it feels like there are 100,000 in the stadium.”
The district has remained largely intact, although former Lakeview coach Freddie Hallman is the new head coach at Bunkie.
Taking over Many’s control at quarterback from Xavier Dias, now on the ULM roster, is junior Tabarius Garner, who played wide receiver last year and is the starting point guard on the Tiger basketball team.
“He’s a great athlete and a great kid who is probably more of a true quarterback than we had last year,” Curtis said.
Here’s some more bad news from Curtis, whose defense allowed single-digit points in 10 games last season and averaged giving up eight points per outing: “We may be faster on defense than we were last year.”
The defense will be led by junior outside linebacker Darion Miller, senior middle linebacker Jamauria Holmes and senior cornerback Alan Warfield.
“Darion is a tremendous blend of speed and size. He was our strong safety last year, but we’ve moved him up,” Curtis said. “Jamauria is solid in the middle of our defense and Alan is a three-year starter who will lead our secondary.”
The Tigers have strengthened their non-district schedule a bit adding road games at 4A power North DeSoto (Sept. 18) and Union Parish (Sept. 25). Those two teams were a combined 17-3 in the regular season last year.
“North DeSoto has one of the better teams they’ve had, so we’re excited about that one,” Curtis said. “Then we go to Union Parish where (Joey) Spatafora has a great team. We wanted some playoff-type games early to get us ready for when the games matter.”