Louisiana 1A Preseason Top 10

Eric Bell and the West Saint John Rams hope to replace Ouachita Christian atop the Louisiana 1A throne. Get details on some of 1A's finest inside...

1. WEST SAINT JOHN (2011 record: 12-3) River Parish power was runner-up to Ouachita Christian. DE/LB Ronnie Feist is now at LSU, but another excellent defensive end - Tulane commit Eric Bell - returns for his senior season.

Bell specifically praised teammates Kylum Favorite (RB) and Dontre Turner (DE) in a recent interview.

In the '11 semis, West Saint John traveled west to Abbeville and handed Vermilion Catholic its only loss of the year in a 54-41 shootout. Favorite ran with fury against VC, carrying 25 times for 272 yards and four TDs.

Last week West Saint John had its way with 2A Riverside Academy in the final preseason tune-up. The Rams, 13-0 winners, were impressive -- especially on pass defense as Riverside's QB completed only 5-of-18 for 36 yards with an INT.

Favorite is joined by another talented runner, Jeremy Jackson, who tallied both TDs vs. Riverside. Jackson plowed into the end zone from four yards out, and also scored on a swing pass from quarterback Austin Howard (returning starter), according to Andrew Lopez of nola.com.

2. OUACHITA CHRISTIAN (2011 record: 15-0) The Eagles from north Monroe were rarely challenged last year.

Want proof? Please consider these final scores from lopsided OCS wins: 55-21, 55-0, 58-22, 42-0, 59-0, 64-6, 61-0, 61-6, 41-6 and 54-0.

The final two scores on the list were in the quarters vs. Central Catholic and semis vs. Mangham.

Junior Quin Graves and senior Braden Bristo split snaps at QB in 2011. The two combined to throw for 29 touchdowns and 2,100 yards with only three total interceptions.

RB Ahkeem Henderson (6-0, 185) produced in a big way as a sophomore with 852 yards rushing and 15 TDs. Henderson had a TD in last week's jamboree.

Someone will need to step up in the absence of WR Mark Laird, who averaged 25 yards per catch and accounted for almost 20 TDs as a senior. An ironman, Laird also picked off nine passes, collected 42 tackles (29 solo), ran for 332 yards (14.44 yards per attempt), recovered a fumble, averaged almost 33 yards per kick return and 10.29 per punt return. Colby Webb and David Joe Branch each hauled in TD receptions in last week's 34-6 jamboree win over Oak Grove.

3. KENTWOOD (2011 record: 8-4) QB Tavarius Battiste accounted for two TDs in the Kangaroos' 18-0 shutout of 3A Amite last week. Leslie Collins scored on a 49-yard pick six, according to Matt Sullivan with the Advocate.

Kentwood was nudged out of the 2011 playoffs in the second round by Westminster Christian (16-15 final). Head coach David Currier is in his 25th year at the school; you could say he's built a dynasty "under the water tank."

If you haven't been, please check out a Kentwood home game, preferably a late round playoff game, for a lively and entertaining atmosphere that is intimidating at times too.

The Roos usually have more size (and speed) than most teams in this class. Here's a few big-body types along the front: OG/DT Jay Nichols (6-3, 290, SR), DE Torardon Watson (6-2, 265, SR), DE Ke'vanta Venable (6-2, 245, SO).

4. VERMILION CATHOLIC (2011 record: 13-1) Trev Faulk only stayed one year as head coach at VC, but the results were certainly memorable (Eagles went 4-7 the year before Faulk arrived).

RB Jacoby Davis (5-10, 190, JR) ranked 8th statewide rushing at conclusion of '11 regular season. Davis skated into the playoffs with nearly 1,700 yards already under his belt.

CB/WR Michael Campbell (5-10, 175, JR), senior OL/DE Kyle Zenon (6-3, 240), DB/WR Dustin Desormeaux (5-10, 180, SR), DB Joey Faulk (5-10, 175, SR) and Davis are the five players to watch at VC, according to Eric Narcisse at the Advertiser.

Team has big shoes to fill after QB Aaron David and WR Ryan David graduated, and WR Shakeir Ryan transferred to Northside (where Faulk currently serves as head coach).

5. CENTRAL CATHOLIC (2011 record: 10-3) Eagles from Morgan City were the preseason No. 1 last year in Class A and reached the quarters (lost to OCS).

All-State stud LB/S/RB Lloyd Grogan is gone to Louisiana Tech, although younger brother Lamar Grogan returns for his senior year. Lamar is a good athlete at outside linebacker. QB Joshua Singleton, a three-year starter at the position, also plays in the secondary. Singleton could play DB or WR in college. WR Dontrell Brown (pictured below) has unlimited potential. Freshman LB Garret Leblanc (6-0, 185) could have a breakout season, as the coaching staff has high expectations. Leblanc got LB MVP at the Lafayette NUC.

6. CEDAR CREEK (2011 record: 9-3) Head coach Corwyn Aldredge has one of the nation's best offensive linemen in K.J. Malone, an LSU commit and the son of former NBA, Louisiana Tech and Summerfield HS hoops star Karl Malone.

Tbe Cougars beat 3A Rayville in last week's jamboree, 22-21. RB Grant Jonkheer reached the end zone on an 80-yard scamper.

7. HAYNESVILLE (2011 record: 10-2) The Golden Tornado (one tornado team, to demonstrate unity) did well in last week's easy 26-8 win over 2A Jonesboro-Hodge. FB Tyus Early ran for two touchdowns.

8. OAK GROVE (2011 record: 6-6) Head coach Vic Dalrymple and the Tigers, tucked away in rural northeast Louisiana, command respect around the state for their consistent success. Last Saturday, Oak Grove struggled against OCS in one-sided loss. QB Cory Wiggins fired a TD pass to freshman WR Jaylan Holt.

9. ELTON (2011 record: 10-2) Tailback Micah Lavan has great size at 6-2, 215 lbs. Lavan rushed for 236 yards in a 22-13 win over Delcambre last year. The Indians' only losses were to district opponent Oberlin, and Central Catholic in a second round playoff game.

10. SOUTHERN LAB (2011 record: 6-5) Kittens are part of the core group of the state's traditional Class A powers, along with programs like Kentwood, Haynesville and Oak Grove. Watch for Lab QB Deonte Shorts.

ON THE BUBBLE: White Castle, Mangham, St. John-Plaquemine, Westminster Christian Academy, Oberlin, Opelousas Catholic, Sacred Heart, St. Edmund, St. Martin's Episcopal, Country Day, Archbishop Hannan

PROSPECT TO WATCH: Ascension Episcopal freshman LB Ja'Ceiry Linzer (6-2, 205), a transfer from 5A Westgate in New Iberia. Coaches at LSU and USC are aware of Linzer's potential and ability.

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