The 2018 Patterson High School Lumberjack football team
(Submitted Photo/Courtesy of Wade Gussman Photography)
Patterson High School to begin Don Jones era
Patterson High School’s senior football players haven’t had the traditional four-year run of most classes, playing under the fourth head coach in as many years.
So first-year Patterson High School Principal Lane Larive had a check list when he went looking for the Lumberjacks’ fourth coach in five seasons. Needless to say, Louisiana High School Sports Hall of Fame Coach Don Jones fit the bill.
Jones is one of the state’s all-time winningest coaches with a career mark of 233-151-3.
He has coached at Woodlawn, Plaquemine, Wisner, Sterlington, Crowley and Winnfield. He spent a season at Morgan City High School as an assistant coach before taking over as the Berwick Junior High School coach for the last three seasons.
Despite the coaching turnover in recent years, Jones said it’s hard to tell by the players’ work ethic.
“We came in and got back to playing Patterson football,” Jones said. “We will be physical and make teams fear the black hats again.”
Patterson was 6-5 last season but extended the ‘Jacks’ long playoff streak.
Offensively, Patterson returns Dajon Richard, one of the state’s most dynamic players. Richard, a first-team All-District 8-3A quarterback and honorable mention Louisiana Sports Writers Association Class 3A All-State pick a year ago, had 154 carries for 1,142 yards rushing with 10 touchdowns last season. The University of Texas at San Antonio commit had 19 receptions for 563 yards and six scores, too. He also was forced to play quarterback, completing 25 of 52 passes for 446 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions.
“Randy Paul will be the starter at quarterback after an up and down season last year, because he had injuries.” Jones said. “Louis Jones, a sophomore, will be the backup.”
Paul was 59-of-99 passing for 941 yards with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions a year ago.
“And of course when you (have a) special athlete like Dajon (Richard), you’re going to get him some time at quarterback,” Jones said. “We have packages for him at quarterback that’s going to drive defenses crazy.”
While Patterson must replace the contributions of first-team All-District 8-3A running back Dontre Nicholas, who now is at Louisiana College, Richard will lead the ground game this year. James Butler and Tae Hayes will relieve him. Allen Langston is another option in the back field, and freshman Mark Hilliard also may carry the football.
“We have a host of guys we can plug in back there,” Jones said.
Kai Schexnayder returns at one receiver spot, while A.J. Robertson will be at the other.
Schexnayder had 14 catches for 205 yards and a score last season.
Kyler Paul and Elijah Williams also will see playing time in a backup role.
“Kyler Paul is a freshman, but he looked really good catching the football (this) summer,” the longtime coach said. “He is a pretty good running back, but we need him to help us at receiver this year. We have some weapons. It’s a shame we only have one football.”
While the Lumberjacks must replace first-team All-District 8-3A offensive lineman Zach Burke, who moved on to Lawrence University in Wisconsin and second team All-District 8-3A selection Brad Beaubouef, standout Javin Turner, a second-team All-District 8-3A selection a season ago, leads this year’s veteran offensive line.
“Javin is going to be a D-1 player,” Jones said. “He’s one of strongest kids we have in the weight room, and he has great feet. He can really run for a kid that size.”
Seniors Austin Harden and Tron’Yonte Clark also are returning starters. Expect to see Isiah Gant, James Gash, Nasere Washington, Gage Stelly, Christian Johnson, Jarvis Jackson and Brady Richardson all rotating in on the offensive line.
“We will play with tight ends,” Jones said. “I don’t think they played with one last season. Irvin Celestine will play there or go outside, his a hard cover any team because of his size and speed.”
Celestine, a second-team All-District 8-3A wide receiver a year ago, had 20 receptions for 385 yards and five touchdowns as a junior.
Langston also will see time at tight end. He had 39 carries for 138 yards and score out the backfield last year. Senior Ben Allen and freshman Jonathan Picou also will see playing time at tight end.
“We are mainly an I-formation team, but we also have multiple formations to take advantage of our athletes,” Jones said. “I believe in running the football first, but I will do whatever it takes to win the game.”
Defensively, Patterson will hang its hat on a big, aggressive defensive line.
“The size we have upfront will be a problem for the average team,” Jones said. “We will roll them in to keep them fresh because most will play on the offensive line, too, but Javin (Turner) and James Gash can dominate the middle.”
Also expect to see J.B. Brown in the defensive line rotation.
Nasere Washington, Christian Johnson and Brady Richardson will rotate at defensive end.
Gone from last year’s team due to graduation is Louisiana Sports Writers Association Class 3A honorable mention All-State pick DeAndre Diggs. Diggs, also a first-team All-District 8-3A pick, signed with Louisiana College.
The ‘Jacks’ return inside linebackers Treylon Bennett and Allen. Bennett was a first-team All-District 8-3A selection a year ago.
“That’s set in stone,” Jones said. “Those guys are football players. I think Treylon (Bennett) is a D-1 football player, also.”
The outside linebackers are R.J. Talver and Telvae Phillips.
“They both have good size and run sideline to sideline,” Jones said.
Sophomore Brandon Boutte also will see time at outside linebacker.
Gone due to graduation is Jaylon Jennings, a second-team All-District 8-3A linebacker a year ago.
The ‘Jacks’ secondary starts with Butler at free safety. Jones calls him the secondary’s quarterback.
Tae Haynes and Williams will start at cornerback.
“I think our defense can be dominate and keep us in most ball games,” Jones said. “We have a lot of speed on our defense.”
Jose Rivera will be the kicker this season, while Richard will punt for the second straight season. Richard also will be the primary kick returner.
Patterson will open its 2018 season Friday when it travels to face Franklin in a 7 p.m. contest.