Donaldsonville head coach Terence Williams has been successful at every stop he’s made over the years. Forgive him, though, if he doesn’t light up when you mention the 2011 season.
Donaldsonville head coach Terence Williams has a young but talented squad
“5-6 is hard to look at and say you were pleased as a coach,” Williams said. “But I was pleased with the way we competed. I think we competed well and our kids were not used to playing that kind of schedule.”
The 2011 schedule included 10 opponents that made the LHSAA playoffs, and also featured non-district games where the Class 3A Tigers played up in their classification against the likes of Dutchtown (5A), McDonogh 35 (4A) and Assumption (4A).
Toss in district battles against Port Allen, E.D. White and defending state champion St. Charles Catholic, and it’s easy to see that the Tigers faced some stiff competition.
“That’s one of the things I wanted to do when I came in was increase our level of teams we played,” explained Williams. “You’ll never learn how to play in December until you play guys that are typically playing around that time. We wanted to get back to playing those types of guys so we can build our program into being a state championship contender.”
Donaldsonville had a potent offensive attack that put plenty of points on the scoreboard at 29.8 points a game last year. The problem, however, was on the other side of the ball where the Tigers yielded 30.8 points a contest.
“Numbers came into play, especially when you play the teams we played that dress so many guys,” said Williams. “We dress 35-40 kids and everyone is playing on both sides of the ball and on special teams. We played some really good teams last year. But like I always say, the only way you’re going to learn to beat those teams is if you get on the field with them.”
Devon Breaux put up some staggering numbers for Donaldsonville from behind center as he completed 67 percent of his passes for 2,873 yards with 24 touchdowns. He added 921 yards and 13 scores with his legs, and was considered by many to be one of the top playmakers in Louisiana for the 2012 class.
Breaux has taken his act to Tulane and now junior Leondre James (5-11, 175) will take over after serving as Breaux’s backup last season, in addition to being his No. 1 target with 72 receptions for 1,118 yards and nine touchdowns.
“The reins have been passed on to Leondre and he’s ready for the challenge,” said Williams. “And like I tell everyone, he did that at receiver as a sophomore. But now he is going to have his hands on the ball on every snap. What we do offensively kind of goes through him so we’ll go as far as he takes us.”
James may have been the most productive receiver for the Tigers, but when it came to big plays he was overshadowed by freshman wide out Jaquel Gant, who caught 55 passes for 955 yards – 17.4 ypc – with nine touchdowns.
“He’s a big kid for his size but the biggest thing is he is no longer a freshman,” Williams said of the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Gant. “He made some freshman mistakes, but he still got close to 1,000 yards last year. We’re expecting some big things from him and he’s going to have to be ready because he’s going to see a lot of double-teams now that he doesn’t have Leondre on the other side.”
Williams has seen Gant put in a lot of work over the spring and summer to help him become a better receiver and a more dependable target for the 2012 Tigers.
“He’s worked his tail off to learn how to beat double-teams and learn how to run routes and deal with zone coverage,” said Williams. “He’s trying to learn how to be a complete receiver and we expect big things from him for the next three years.”
Lighting up the scoreboard should not be an issue for the Tigers once again. The other side of the ball, however, is still a question mark.
“Leondre and Jaquel will have to lead us in the secondary and they’re going to be good because they can run and fly to the ball,” said Williams. “We don’t have a lot of size so we’re going to have to rely on our speed and athleticism, and flying to the ball and gang-tackling.”
Donaldsonville is young and Williams does not have a lot of numbers to work with. He also has another challenging schedule to deal with.
There is still plenty of optimism, though, with the 2012 campaign right around the corner.
“The big thing is to get better every day we step on the field whether its practice, games, weight room, or whatever,” said Williams. “Our goal is to be better than we were the day before. By the time district comes we should be ready to rock and roll if we have that mindset.”
On the recruiting trail
*** Leondre James is already attracting attention from a number of FBS schools including LSU, Alabama, Tennessee, Arkansas, Florida State to name a few.
James, who is still waiting on his first offer, is being looked at for cornerback and receiver by nearly everyone. He has ideal size for corner being that he is a legit 5-11 without shoes and he has very long arms.
Look for James to be a high 3* prospect when we expand our 2014 ratings.
*** Jaquel Gant is only a sophomore but he is attracting just as much attention as James.
He has enormous upside with his size and ball skills for someone heading into his sophomore year.
Louisiana has produced some highly regarded receivers over the years and Gant is in that same mold.
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