Crutchfield looks to take Bogalusa to Promised Land in second season
It was a good year for Bogalusa in 2021.
The Lumberjacks posted a 7-3 record and reached the second round of the Class 3A state playoffs.
Cyril Crutchfield has instilled a winning culture and why not? He has been very successful in his storied career.
At Port Sulphur, Crutchfield won a state championship in 2002.
At South Plaquemines, he guided the Hurricanes to state titles in 2007 and 2008 and he has taken teams to five state championship games.
At St. Augustine, Crutchfield took the Purple Knights to the semifinals.
Experienced in a variety of settings, Crutchfield has also coached at West Jefferson, Landry and Broadmoor.
Bogalusa is poised for an even better season in 2022.
The Lumberjacks return nine starters on both offense and defense.
With continuity for both players and coaches coming into 2022, Crutchfield feels like he has a better feel for the program.
“The difference is by leaps and bounds,” Crutchfield said, “In year one, you have to identify strengths and weaknesses because you basically are going in with no knowledge, and in year two I’ve been able to focus on things that we need and putting players in positions to make the team successful.”
Coming off a playoff run, the experiences for the entire team last year will heavily benefit this year’s group.
Establishing a solid foundation to the program is a primary point of emphasis in his second year.
“The main thing, first and foremost is to build a positive culture, and you do that by doing your job on a daily basis and improving each and every day,” Crutchfield said, “Not to mention we had success last year, all of that pays off big, and can’t be substituted for anything else.”
Amongst the returning starters, the Lumberjacks get back an extremely talented quarterback in Ashton Levi (6-1, 190) for his junior year. Along with improvement as a player, Crutchfield is excited about Levi becoming a presence in the locker room in his first year as an upperclassman.
“He’s really stepping up being more vocal this summer,” Crutchfield said. “He’s confident with the offense this year compared to last year where he was learning a new offense. The same people he was throwing to last year, he’s basically throwing too again.”
Along with Levi, Bogalusa gets back its two most impactful targets on the outside with senior wide receivers Reynis Morris (6-0, 190) and Aquinas Roberts (6-2, 175) who, along with Levi, are getting recruiting looks from colleges across the Southeast. Combined, they give the Lumberjacks a chance at a dynamic offense this season.
“Reynis is a great young man,” Crutchfield said. “As good as a player he is on the field, he’s an even better person off the field. There might be kids who work about as hard but there’s no one who works harder. He’s a captain again this year after being a captain as a junior.
“Same thing for Aquanis Roberts. He comes to work everyday and we expect him to be one of our main guys next year.”
The team also gets back senior running back Talik Williams (5-8, 185) for his fifth year as a starter. Williams rounds out a skill group on offense with loads of experience, and Crutchfield sees Williams as a person in the locker room who knows the Bogalusa football program best.
“He’s seen the bad with this program,” Crutchfield said. “I think we matched his win output from his previous four years in this past year.It’s always good to have someone who’s been there through the good and the bad.”
Up front, Bogalusa returns four of its five starters from last year. Crutchfield’s hopes are high for the group, and believes their performance as a unit is paramount to the offense’s success in 2022.
“I expect us to be much improved, and as we all know, everything starts and ends in the trenches in football, I don’t care what level,” Crutchfield said. “To have that nucleus of young men back speaks volumes for what we are trying to accomplish on offense.”
On the other side of the ball, the front seven brings deep experience, led by senior linebacker Keyshawn Manning (5’10, 200).
Defensive Coordinator Vonte Owens has experienced players across the entire defensive line and at linebacker.
“Keyshawn is the quarterback of our defense,” Crutchfield said. “He’s so smart, he’s got a great GPA and he has a great football IQ. For him to be able to make the calls and the checks with his game experience really solidifies what we want to do on defense.”
In the defensive backfield, there is a significant difference from last season when the secondary was filled with new faces and had little to no experience. The group should take a huge step forward in 2022.
“I think it will be a significant difference,” Crutchfield said, “We walked into game one last year with zero game experience, so to have those guys back that understand there’s a difference between playing under the lights on Friday night than during the week in practice is huge.”
Despite a strong first season and having a ton of players returning, Crutchfield doesn’t want his team to get ahead of themselves.
The Lumberjacks will face a tough schedule in 2022.
The season opens with parish rival Franklinton in week one, followed by Slidell and Salmen. It is at John Ehret in week four and then at Chalmette.
After opening with five weeks of rigorous non-district play, Bogalusa opens District 7-3A play in week six at Amite before hosting Jewel Sumner. The regular season concludes with Pine on the road and Albany at home.
“Maintaining focus is a factor,” Crutchfield said. “I told them that we have nine games, and I say that we have a one game season nine times. We are going to focus on game one, that’s all we are concerned with. Then we’ll move on to the next game.”
For a coach who has been there, the goal is clear.
“We only have one goal, and that’s to win the state championship, and you do that by focusing and taking it one game at a time,” Crutchfield said.
Expectations are high and rightfully so for the Lumberjacks, who won state titles in 1947 and 1969. It has been quite some time but the Lumberjacks must be considered a contender for state honors in 2022.
Click here for more CCS Prep Football team previews (including archives of past season previews).
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A New Orleans native, who currently attends the University of Alabama studying Sports Media, Peyton Davis played football, basketball and ran track at Isidore Newman. Peyton has worked for The University of Alabama student radio station at 90.3 WVUAFM as an anchor on the Saturday morning college football pregame show. He is interning this summer at Crescent City Sports working…