ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - The Bunkie Panthers went 4-7 last year, which is an upside considering how young they are. Head coach Nick Pujol isn’t worried about excuses, just a grinding.
“We've been preaching a lot about taking pride in yourself and taking pride in every rep,” said Pujol. “We’re focusing mentally and are going to ask you to be mentally tough and have a ton of effort. If there is a lack of effort, you probably won't last very long.”
The Panthers have a group of young players, Lataj'drick Howard at receiver and Hayden Sauseda at linebacker. Howard was 2nd team all-district as a sophomore, but he says that he's just getting started.
As for Sauseda, he also made 2nd team all-district. He may not be the biggest, but he packs the biggest punch leading the team in tackles last year.
The Panthers are young, but they're hungry. The passion that they have is only adding fuel to their fire.
“We're not going to be the biggest team by any means but we're going to play, have a nasty mentality, and get after you,” said Pujol. “We're not going to fold and you'll know that we were there for every snap.”
Next up is the Pickering Red Devils.
They had a rough go-round last season going 1-9, but they aren't making excuses either. Coach Ryan Russo is heading into his first season as head coach and is looking to turn this program around.
“Culture changes every day,” said Russo. “It can't be something that you just talk about. It's every little thing that goes into making the big thing happen. We preached hard work, integrity, discipline. If we have those things we'll have wins.”
He has some young pieces to help him get the job done. On offense, they have junior quarterback Braden LeBato who had to bounce from some injury. He's looking to take this team to new heights.
On defense, they have two guys that have a nose for the ball in linebackers Anthony Woods and defensive back Richard Trotter. They both want to see the whole defense eat.
The pads will speak for themselves, but the Red Devils are fighting to make their case.
“You have a team full of guys that are hungry to win games and improve upon their first few years in the program,” said Russo. “We have a great senior class that's wanting to end things the right way. You're going to get a hungry team when you play the Pickering Red Devils.”
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