Edwards looks to restore Istrouma to prominence
It is a marriage of championship pedigree.
Sid Edwards has won multiple state championships and is nearing the elite milestone of 200 victories.
Istrouma has won nine state championships, tied for fifth most in Louisiana history, but the last one came on 1962. Edwards won a pair of state titles at Redemptorist in 2002 and 2003.
Can Edwards return the Indians to prominence? He certainly has the ability to do so, having posted a very impressive 188-81 record in 23 years as a head coach.
The road back for Istrouma has been slow but steady.
Istrouma was closed from 2014-2017, due to lack of enrollment. Since then, the school started anew and continues to grow the number of students and student-athletes to be competitive.
Being welcomed into a new program can be difficult, but the Indians have accepted Edwards with open arms.
“It really has been good and welcoming,” said Edwards. “Istrouma is in one of the hardest parts of East Baton Rouge Parish. I mean it’s tough over here, the 70805 zip code is what we call it over here. So these kids had a little trepidation, with them like ‘who is this guy?’ But it didn’t take long for them to embrace me and welcome me here and so I’ve been very pleased with that.”
The Indians have had troubles in the past, but they seem to be overcoming everything that was a negative and are ready to showcase their skills after a competitive 4-5 season in 2022 under Jeremy Gradney.
“We’ve come a long way, “ said Edwards. “In the beginning it was hard getting them to show up. Our attendance now and our commitment and all those things it really has picked up the kids have picked up and are buying in physically we have gotten better after a summer of training. I think the boys are pleasantly surprised with the results.”
Progressing in the offseason is a huge step in the right direction and normally correlates to a successful season.
The Indians have worked diligently to improve their weaknesses from last year and on improving their strengths.
Edwards is very high on one aspect of his offense.
“Our entire offensive line has done a great job, those guys have been doing a really good job and I think it is the strength of our team,” Edwards said. “We are close to averaging 300 pounds per man up front.
That line includes “Tyreese Tate (6-5, 310), James Zanders (6-1, 360), James Mcguffrey (6-1,250), Benton Harris (6-3, 310), and TJ Jefferson (6-0,310).
The quarterback is Lemoine Brady (5-10,160), who is coming off of a meniscus injury suffered in the final game last season. Brady has just started practicing with the team, and has not been favoring his knee.
Brady appears poised to handle the job and has a fine receiver to throw to in Michael Dempsey (5-10, 165).
As is the case on offense, the defensive front is solid.
“Right now, Jeremiah Coleman (6-1, 220) is going to be the anchor of our defense,” said Edwards. “We have a guy Zion Gardner-Burrell (6-1, 325) at the nose or down tech and I’m very happy with him.”
Senior Trey Noble (6-0, 180) is an edge player while at the second level, junior linebacker Dylon Chavers (6-1, 188) is a good one.
In the secondary Kyree Paul (5-9, 160) is the cornerback.
“Kyree is a very dynamic player he’s been doing really well,” Edwards said.
The vocal leader is Treyvon Simon (5-4, 125). “We call him ‘Juice’ for his effort,” Edwards said. “He’s a little bitty guy but our vocal leader. He leads by example as well with his hustle on and off the field and he’s kind of the voice of our team.”
Edwards is pleased with the way players have stepped up but knows there is more to be done.
“There’s been a drastic improvement in our leadership, it’s still not where I want it to be yet,” said Edwards. “Trying to get these guys to lift each other up and hold each other accountable. We have made accountability groups, there are five of them in a group if one of them messes up they all have to run. It’s not where I want it to be just yet.”
Having a tough schedule can make a big difference in a teams playoff performance, The Indians face good teams during the regular season will prepare them for the playoffs.
“I’m excited about it,” said Edwards. “There are a lot of tough teams, West Feliciana is probably the favorite to win the district championship. Some people are talking of them as a potential state championship team. Plaquemine and Brusly are teams that are on the rise. St. Micheal usually has great players.”
Starting off their season on the road against Capitol High, Istrouma then jumps right into an away district game against Belaire. A three-game home stretch at Tack Jackson Stadium follows for district games against Broudmoor, Plaquemine, and West Feliciana.
Then comes a road game against district rival McKinley and Tara at home. For their last non-district game, the Indians play Bonnabel on the road. Their last two games are both against district opponents, St. Michael on the road and to end their regular season at home against Brusly.
The Indians are ready to dispel those who doubt their ability.
“It wouldn’t be smart to sleep on us,” said Edwards. “One of the attributes about us is we have a tremendous amount of desire and hunger to put respect on our names. You’re not going to be able to show up against my football team and go through the motions and that’s the biggest thing we are aspiring to get respect put on our name. It could take a little while but that’s our goal.”
Given his track record, do not sell Edwards or Istrouma short.
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Born and raised in the Metairie area, Jacob Senat is a 2023 graduate of Kenner Discovery Health Sciences Academy. He is currently attending Southeastern Louisiana University majoring in Sports Broadcasting and analytics.