Football Preview: Church Point looks to avoid step back after special season

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Last year, the Church Point Battlin’ Bears were on the doorstep of a trip to the Class 3A state Title game but came up short by one score to the eventual state champions, Madison Prep.

Church Point will be looking to build upon that momentum for their program coming off their most successful year ever. The Bears finished the regular season with a record of 5-0 and went on to win three more games in the postseason. Even in a shortened season where four of their games were canceled, Church Point persevered and thrived during the pandemic.

Departures of key players like last year’s starting quarterback and 1st team all-district linebacker Dylan Stelly as well as 1st team all-district running back Gavin Richard will challenge the Bears, who also lost District MVP and all-state nose guard Tony Gibson to graduation.

Head coach JC Arceneaux, who led the Bears to their best season ever in 2020, sees this year as a season of rebuilding. However, the roster does have top contributors returning on both sides of the ball.

A pair of 1st team all-district running backs, Tylon Citizen (5’10”, 170) and Jalon Reese (5’6”, 205), will be the focal points on offense. Citizen, Church Point’s leading rusher in 2020, can change a game on one touch. “He’s a big play threat on offense,” noted Arceneaux.

Citizen posted 667 yards and five touchdowns while Reese added 438 yards and three scores on the ground. Both will have plenty of opportunities in Church Point’s Wing-T offensive scheme which relies heavily on the running game.

Up front on offense in the trenches, the Bears have a trio of starters returning in senior Camden Maroon (6’5”, 225) at guard plus both tackles, senior Nick Richard (6-1, 212) and sophomore Gavin Benoit (5’11”, 235) . For an offense that is run dependent, these will be players that Arceneaux will count on to move the line of scrimmage up the field and open running lanes.

As for the defense, Arceneaux is very confident in a unit which returns significant experience.

The Bears have a pair of 1st team all-district defensive linemen returning, seniors Javen Gibson (6’3”, 215) and Jamorrison Gibson (6’2”, 235). The two alone combined for 125 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, plus five sacks in just nine games last year. Church Point also welcomes back All-District linebackers Jaiki Landry (5’10”, 200) and Andy Briceno (5’10”, 175).

In the secondary, both starting safeties – Armstead Mouton (6’0”, 155) and Daylon Foreman (6’1”, 165) – bring versatility and reliability to the Church Point defense. Mouton led the Bears in interceptions last year. Cornerback Jeremiah Roy also returns.

“We did a great job against the pass last season, Arceneaux said.

Church Point begins its season with five games including three on the road versus Port Barre, Kaplan and Rayne, followed by home contests with Marksville and Eunice. Overall, four of the six games to open 2021 will be away from their home turf. The Bears will be battled tested for district games, starting at home against the Iota Bulldogs, who they narrowly defeated last season, 21-15.

Church Point nest head to Northwest High in Opelousas. The Bears handled Raiders in last season’s matchup with a decisive victory, 32-7.

Next comes a trio of district foes Church Point has not seen since 2019.

The Ville Platte Bulldogs visit in week 8. Last year’s matchup was canceled due to complications with the pandemic.

The regular season ends with the Mamou Demons, who only played three games last year because of coronavirus. Church Point was not one of the Demons 2020 opponents.

The final regular season opponent for the Church Point Bears will be the Pine Prairie Panthers, coming off a winless season.

“(We) will have to find some consistency on offense and the defense will have to show they can stop the run if (we) look to make another trip to playoffs in a very tough 3A district,” Arceneaux said.

Sometimes success can make a team complacent and satisfied. This does not seem to be the way that the Church Point Battlin’ Bears operate. A program reaching new heights has only made the coaches and players hungrier for more.

Click here for more CCS Prep Football team previews (including archives of past season preview).

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