This year, Shaw will rely on a D-line that showcases the best defensive end tandem in the state outside of West Monroe. Ryan Brown, a 6-foot-5, 240-pound senior, recently switched his verbal commitment from South Florida to Mississippi State. As a junior, Brown collected 50 tackles and four sacks. He'll be flanked by Stephen Gibson (6-3, 235), who holds offers from Colorado, Kansas, ULM and Pittsburgh, among others.
"Our defensive line is smart," said senior defensive tackle Romello Dixon. "We know the game. Our two ends have talent and size. Stephen is very athletic and the most mobile. Ryan is more physical, but he's also mobile. I use my quickness to beat centers and guards. I try to get off the ball quickly.
"We may not have the number one defensive line in the state, but we're close to it. I'd say Karr (in nearly Algiers) has the number one defensive line in Louisiana."
Mike Mitchell, a junior, and senior Robby Mitchell will man two of the linebacker spots. Robby Mitchell is a returning senior starter who spent the bulk of his time at strong safety in 2010.
"Robby is a very smart player," said Dixon. "Javis Aultman (safety) was killing it in practice this spring. He'll pick off a pass or bring the hat. He's ready for anything."
Shaw's secondary, which includes two new faces at the cornerback positions, will get tested early and often. On offense, the Eagles turn to senior Will Thomas (5-11, 200, 4.5) at running back. Thomas will try to fill the void left by the departure of Lawrence Breaud.
"We have a nice offensive line," said Dixon. "Jude Bourgeois (6-0, 305) does a good job, and so does Kevon Beckwith. Kyron Smith missed last year with a broken leg. He's 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds. At right tackle, we have Ian Theriot (6-3, 250).
"Our quarterback, Quentin Gibson, will be a first-year starter. He's only around 6-foot-0, but he can ball. Wide receiver Garrett Shano (5-10, 170) will get catches on curls and vertical routes. Drew Hebert is another good option at receiver."
REGULAR SEASON PREDICTION: 7-3
Shaw drops back down to 4A, where the Eagles were always a lock for a deep playoff run. The schedule is not easy. Former Catholic League rivals Rummel, St. Augustine and Jesuit dot the non-district slate. Consecutive district clashes versus McDonogh #35, Edna Karr and O. Perry Walker will be a chore.