Across the state, many schools have already started classes, with most of the holdouts following suit this week. As jamboree action looms less than two weeks away, teams have begun their fall scrimmages and St. John (Plaquemine), led by seniors Warren Bates (pictured above) and Herman Fitch, squared off with 3A playoff team Livonia over the weekend.
The Eagles went 12-2 in 2009, advancing to the Class A semifinals before losing 26-0 to Haynesville in rare wintry (ice/snow) south Louisiana conditions.
By all accounts, St. John is expected to challenge for the Class A state title this year. With seniors such as Bates (6-foot-0, 205), a Louisiana Tech commit, and Fitch (6-foot-2, 220) leading the way, the Eagles should have another phenomenal season.
Bates, who is being recruited by Tech primarily as an outside linebacker, rarely comes off the field.
"We (the skill players) all move around the field," said Bates. "I spend some time at tailback, fullback, and wide receiver on offense."
The Tech commit wasn't overly pleased with his performance in the scrimmage, which ended in a 6-6 tie.
"We didn't play to our potential," he said, "but it was the first game - or scrimmage - and we got it out of the way. I had about 50 yards rushing on five or six carries with a touchdown. The TD came on a 25-yard run when I was playing fullback.
"My best attribute on the field is my explosiveness - both on defense and offense. I made a couple of good runs (during the scrimmage), but I need to get better. I don't really know what to say about what I'm good at on the field. I just like to play."
"I'm ready for those games," said Bates, who does most of his talking on the field. "I had a bad game against White Castle last year. I was sick that night and I had a fumble. It was the only time I fumbled all year."
Fitch, who is waiting for his first scholarship offer, should get plenty of looks from recruiters this year. At 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, Fitch has the size and ability to play tight end, defensive end, and outside linebacker.
"Livonia scored first in the scrimmage," said Fitch, "but we picked off a pass later and scored after that. They had a good running back, but he got lucky and found daylight on the play that they scored. I had a tipped pass and a few tackles. We really only played two quarters.
"Next week, we scrimmage St. Michael and Scotlandville. I hope they throw a lot so I can rush the passer."
As a junior, Fitch notched 78 tackles and 12 sacks while earning all-state accolades.