Elton hopes to avoid slow start in 2017

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The Elton Indians are coming off a 2016 season where many feel they underachieved, going 6-6 and making the second round of the Class, 1A playoffs before falling to Varnado 50-0.

Four of the Indians six losses last season came by eight points or less, including a one point loss to district champ Oberlin and a four point setback after a second half collapse to Lafayette Christian.

The Indians started off slow last year, going 0-4 to start before winning six of their last eight games to finish out the year. This year’s squad will look to carry some of that momentum into 2017.

“We have a lot of people who can run and catch the football,” said Indians head coach Doyle Carter, who is heading into his sixth season in his second tenure in Elton.

The Indians will return a jack-of-all-trades in Keshawn Lyons (5-9, 175 Sr.). Lyons had a breakout season last year at quarterback, rushing and passing for over, 1,000 yards and totaling 30 touchdowns. Lyons was also a first team all-district safety, All-SWLA kick returner and First Team All-State punter averaging 40.1 yards per punt.

Lyons will be the unquestioned leader of the Indians this season, and Elton has garnered a lot of hype due in large part to him.

“All of our skill players have a chance to shine every night,” said Coach Carter. “At any point in time, all of those guys can change to outcome of a game.”

Also returning offensively at running back will be Darnell Robinson (5-8, 190 Jr.). Robinson rushed for 1,500 yards and, 13 touchdowns last season as a sophomore in route to being named first team all-district. Robinson is coming off a shoulder injury last season and suffered a minor back injury during fall camp so you can expect to see Jalen Chretien (5-9, 185 Jr.) taking some snaps out of the backfield.

Receivers will be one of the deepest positions on the field for the Indians. They will return Derrick Finnley (6-3, 165 Sr.), who sat out most of last season after transferring from West Orange-Stark High in Texas and was still named First Team All-Parish, along with Jeremy Leonard (6-1, 185 Sr.), who is coming off a, 2016 season where he missed, 11 games due to a torn ACL, and Gavin Courville (6-2, 160 Jr.) Kervondrick Scott (6-2, 190 Jr.), another transfer from West Orange-Stark, will be starting at tight end this season.

“The offensive and defensive lines are definitely our weak spots,” said Carter. “If we can keep everybody healthy there we will be alright, though.”

On the offensive line, the Indians will return three starters in guard Logan Lejeune (6-4, 255 Sr.), First Team All-District center Ethan John (5-9, 225 Sr.), and guard Dylan Kelley (5-10, 200 Jr.). Elton’s new right tackle Kaleb Guillory (6-5, 230 Jr.) is a first year football player who is very talented and has a very high ceiling.

The left tackle position has an on-going battle between Brennus Romero (5-10, 175 Sr.) and Chris Miller (6-0, 255 Sr.). Miller, coming off a non-football related foot injury, will slowly be brought into the lineup.

On the defensive line, Lejeune will return at defensive end as will Dylan Kelley at defensive tackle. Trevor Lemoine (5-11, 235 Sr.) will be a new starter at defensive tackle. Lemoine has a nose for the football and a motor that wont quit and could be a pleasant surprise for the Indian defense. Kaleb Guillory and Kervondrick Scott will split time at the defensive end spot opposite Lejeune. We will also be seeing Chris Miller at defensive tackle during the season.

There is a lot of youth at linebacker for the Indians. Eric Wilson (5-10, 220 Sr.) is the lone returning starter there for Elton at middle linebacker. Jeremy Leonard will move down to weakside linebacker after playing safety his first three years. Colby Robinson (5-6, 150 Sr.), who is coming of a torn ACL in their second round playoff game against Varnado, will be swapping out at strongside linebacker with Jalen Chretien.

“Our secondary is the most experienced group on our defense,” said Carter. “We’ve got all of them back this season except for Alex Leonard but Derrick Finnley and Gavin Courville saw a lot of playing time there last season.”

In the secondary, Keshawn Lyons will return at strong safety while Gavin Courville and Derrick Finnley will start at cornerback. Tylor Fogleman (5-9, 155 Sr.) will be the free safety. Markel Bellow (6-0, 155 Sr.) will see significant playing time off the bench this season at cornerback.

Lyons will be the starting punter again after a all-state season last year. Kicker is a position completely up in the air and you will likely see more than one this season. That should not effect the Indians as they usually go for a two-point conversion after a touchdown.

Kick returner will be run by committee with a number of players including Lyons, Finnley, Fogleman and others seeing time returning this season.

A couple of familiar faces and rivals will be back on the schedule as Basile and St. Edmund Catholic return to their traditional district in 4-1A.

“Anytime you have Basile and St. Ed’s in this district it will always be a dogfight,” said Carter. “It doesn’t matter who has the better record or the most talent, it will always be a tough game when we play those two teams.”

The return of those two squads will see the return of a very heated traditional rivalry between the three teams in the Highway 190 Classic.

Basile and Elton had played every season since Elton started football in 1961 before Basile was moved to District 5-1A in 2015, allowing Basile to retain possession of the Battle of Bayou Nezpique trophy during their two seasons in District 5-1A.

“I think the fact that they have kept the trophy for free for two years will add some meaning to the game,” said Carter. “This is my sixth year back in Elton and they have had the trophy as long as I have been back so we need to bring it back home to Elton.”

The Indians will face the Bearcats at home in a Thursday game in week seven.

One story line for the Indians that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention is about head coach Doyle Carter.. This season will be Carter’s 30th coaching high school football in southwest Louisiana. Carter has made several stops across southwest Louisiana during his long career including Rayne, LaGrange, Barbe, Crowley, and others. Throughout his career his only time as a head coach has been his two tenures with Elton, the first for three years in the mid-1990s and his current tenure since, 2012.

“It’s all about the kids,” said Carter about his takeaways from his career. “I definitely didn’t get into this career for the money. Even though I enjoy teaching, I didn’t do it for that either. I’m in it to make the kids better people and teach them morals and discipline and how to be a better adult. I now have lifetime friends who were my students and players in the past. The more we can mold the kids into fine adults, the better our future will be.”

Anytime a coach has been around for this long, the retirement conversation will come up. However, Carter has no intentions to hang up his whistle yet.

“I’m still enjoying coaching,” said Carter. “There’s a time when you feel it’s somebody else’s turn but right now I still love coaching this game.”

Elton’s season opener, the Battle of Highway 26 against cross-parish rival Lake Arthur, has been cancelled due to weather conditions from Tropical Storm Harvey. The two schools were set to meet in the regular season for the first time since 2006.

The Indians season opener will now be in week two on the road against East Beauregard.

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