Football Preview: Tested by adversity, Dunham looks to surge in 2021
Coming off a subpar year, Dunham looks to right the ship in their 2021 football season.
The Tigers were a team plagued by misfortune last year as seven starters went down with season-ending injuries on the way to a 3-4 record. However, the team did rally together and managed to win a postseason game against St. Thomas Aquinas, 20-0. Their season ended with a loss to St. Charles Catholic, 31-7.
Under Neil Weiner, Dunham has produced some great talent over the years, including All-American cornerback Derek Stingley Jr, of LSU.
Defensive end Conner Boldt, linebacker Johnny Green, offensive tackle Cameron Holmes and cornerback Jordi Melara have all graduated, leaving key holes to fill in the roster.
“Last year was a very unusual year with so many injuries to starters,” Weiner said. “This did, however, provide valuable playing experience for a young group of ninth and 10th graders last year. He is confident after last year’s campaign that they are ready for younger players to step up when needed.
Although they are losing some key pieces, Weiner is confident he has a solid group of impact players returning on both sides of the ball.
“This has been the hardest working team we’ve had in eight off-seasons at Dunham,” Weiner said. “Great senior leadership with some very talented young players coming up.”
Dunham has a handful of two-way stars on their team including Jordan Dupre (5-9, 175 SR) at wide receiver and defensive back, Matthew Weiner (6-1, 185, SR) at wide receiver and linebacker, and Kalante Wilson (5-6, 195 SR) at linebacker and tailback. Dupre is expected to play at the next level, recently receiving an offer from the University of New Mexico.
Both defensive ends Jake Rizzo (6-4, 230 JR) and Laramie Guidry (6-5, 205 SO) along with interior defensive lineman Malachi Jackson (6-1, 210 SO) return to form the front three in Weiner’s 3-3-5 defensive scheme. Lawrence Watts (5-10, 165 SR) will strengthen their defensive backfield.
On offense, Braden Augustus (6-1, 270, SR) looks to be the anchor for the linemen upfront at left tackle. Hayden Hand (6-3, 195 SR) is a key returnee as the Dunham starting quarterback.
Hand will have a lot of weapons at his disposal in Dunham’s spread offense with Dupre and Weiner on the outside and Wilson beside him in the backfield. Against Archbishop Hannan last year, Hand rattled off 250 total yards along with two passing and one rushing touchdown.
Weiner’s team will begin the 2021 season on the road at Parkview Baptist. Last year’s contest ended in a close 27-21 defeat for the Tigers so they will be looking steal a win on the Eagles’ home field to kickoff in the rematch.
Week two has the Tigers traveling to Longville to take on the South Beauregard. The Golden Knights finished last year with a record of 5-4, losing in the second round of the playoffs to Lake Charles College Prep, 34-12.
The next week, Dunham welcomes the University Lab Cubs in their first home game of the year. University Lab is coming off a 8-2 campaign with a heartbreaking close loss to eventual Division II state champion St. Thomas More.
Week four sends the Tigers to Hammond to face the Tornadoes, who will be looking to show how their program has improved after going 1-5 last year.
The following week Dunham will have another touch test when Southern Lab comes to its campus. The Kittens finished last season with a record of 5-4 and were eliminated from the playoffs in the semifinals by the Div. III state runner up, Calvary Baptist. The Kittens figure to be a challenge for the Tigers as they ended the season red hot after winning one of four games to begin the year.
Northeast High is slated for week six, marking the the first matchup between these schools in two years. Complications with COVID-19 prevented last year’s game from happening, so Dunham has held bragging rights since a 47-8 victory in 2019.
When Dunham squares off against always tough Episcopal, it will be their fifth time on the road in just seven games. The Tigers will be looking to make up for last year’s 43-point defeat.
Dunham will play on their home turf week eight, looking for a another win over the East Feliciana Tigers.
The Port Allen Pelicans come to Baton Rouge next to battle Dunham in a rematch of last year’s 22-21 thriller. The Tigers will definitely eye revenge after having that game slip away.
Dunham’s regular season finale comes in the first week of November when they visit the Capitol Lions. The Tigers took last season’s contest, 29-18, so the Lions will have extra motivation to win this next game in this crosstown rivalry.
Dunham will spend lots of time on the buses it seems, as over half of their games will be on the road. Last season was tainted by injuries that did not allow the Tigers to reach their full potential but it is safe to say they are ready to face any adversity that comes their way.
Now with a healthy team coming into this year, Weiner will look to lead his team back to their winning ways. If Dunham’s stars can stay off the injury report this is a team that could make some noise all the way to December.
Click here for more CCS Prep Football team previews (including archives of past season preview).
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