Football Preview: Experience should pay dividends as Patterson looks to rebound
The Patterson Lumberjacks are coming off a letdown of a season, where they lost their final four games and failed to reach the postseason.
The 2020 regular season resulted in a record of 2-6, and the defense was inconsistent. In the Lumberjacks’ two wins they held both opponents to a combined seven points but other games showed a struggling unit that allowed 50 points on four separate occasions.
Looking to bounce back this fall, Patterson will be without several key seniors from 2020 who played a factor in all three phases of the game. On offense, wideout Louis Jones, quarterback Joseph Larson and running back Darion Robertson are important offensive pieces to be replaced along with five key defenders from last year – defensive backs Kylan Griffin, Randan Paul and Dylan Fabre, linebacker Dalton Cooper and defensive lineman Nasere Washington. The Lumberjacks must also replace Jose Rivera, their place kicker and punter from last season.
Although Patterson is losing several experienced veterans and captains from the previous year, head coach Zach Lochard is confident.
“We will one of the most exciting teams in the state to watch in 2021,” Lochard said.
Lochard attributes this belief to the starters that are returning, including 10 on offense and seven on defense.
The offense will be led by junior quarterback Caylon Davis (5’11”, 175), who spent a good amount of time under center last season and threw for 895 yards through the air with seven touchdowns and eight interceptions. He split time with Larson as the signal caller and did so effectively as a sophomore.
The Lumberjacks will also get their best playmaker back as the dynamic Tylon Walton (6’3”, 195) returns for his senior year. Last season, Walton accumulated 242 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. As a receiver, he also proved to be the deep threat for Patterson, racking up 410 yards and five more scores while averaging 25 yards a reception.
Walton will give the Lumberjacks’ offense the home run hitter that can hurt opposing defenses over the top, especially when they can pair him with senior wideout Kyler Paul (5’11”, 185).
Very few teams have two guys capable of being the reliable top dog on the outside. Paul led the Lumberjacks in receiving yards and receptions last year, hauling in 47 catches for 578 yards and four touchdowns.
Patterson’s offense would certainly be formidable with just Wallace and Paul, but their wide receiver room is stacked. They have two more quality targets, senior Dillon Gunner (5’8”, 150) and junior Howard Kinchen (6’2”, 150). Gunner is coming off a productive season where he caught 25 balls for 338 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Kinchen was a viable option on the field as well, going for 190 yards and two scores as a sophomore.
As for how Patterson will fare upfront, five of the regular offensive linemen from last season are back. All of them are juniors.
Flipping over to the other side of the ball, the Lumberjacks’ front seven is filled with experience.
Starting upfront on the line, senior Christian Johnson (6’1”, 240) and sophomore Demond Davis (6’2”, 220) are top performers. Johnson in his junior year had 15 tackles in just six games, Davis as a freshman finished the year with 32 tackles.
Behind them are two linebackers that fly through gaps and to the ball in senior Lonnie Kinchen (5’10”, 190) and junior Josiah Jennings (6’3”, 240). Kinchen was everywhere last season piling up a team high 80 tackles, and his counterpart Jennings had an efficient season as well, finishing with 47 tackles.
In the secondary, three impact Lumberjacks are back in the fold including sophomore Kylin Brooks (6’0”, 155), junior Kendall Francois (5’9”, 135) and junior Roy Jones (6’2”, 170).
Lochard is counting on Brooks to step up due to the number of starters lost to graduation. He only appeared in four games and had 10 total tackles in 2020. Francois is also looking for a bigger role in 2021, he only appeared in three games and was responsible for six tackles. Jones is the most seasoned back of the three, playing in seven games and making 23 tackles last year. It is not as experienced of a group as they have in the front seven, but the coaching staff loves their potential.
The Lumberjacks’ kickoff their 2021 season with five non district opponents with four of those matchups on the road. Patterson’s first half of their schedule proceeds as the following: at West St. Mary’s, home against Franklin, Central Catholic away, Amite away and Morgan City away.
The order of the second half of season is identical to their schedule from last year, all are district games as well. Patterson goes to Berwick before two straight home games against E.D. White and Donaldsonville. Finally in the last two weeks of the season, the ‘Jacks will face always tough St. James and Lutcher on the road.
“After just narrowly missing the playoffs in 2020, our team goals in 2021 are to make the playoffs, win District and return to a State Championship for the first time since 2010,” noted Lochard, who has the highest of expectations for his team.
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