Interview: East Jefferson football coach Frank Allelo eyes step forward for Warriors in 2020

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It has been a fun, sometimes bumpy ride for Frank Allelo.

An outstanding coach, Allelo served as offensive coordinator the magical run of East Jefferson to the Class 4A state championship in 2013 under Nick Saltaformaggio.

After following Saltaformaggio to Hahnville, Allelo returned to East Jefferson as offensive coordinator in 2015 and took over as head coach of the Warriors in 2016.

It has not been easy since the state championship for East Jefferson.

After a winning season and playoff appearance in 2014, the Warriors moved up to 5A and went 2-8 in 2015.

In 2016, Allelo’s Warriors were 3-7, followed by a 5-6 season, which included a playoff appearance in 2017.

East Jefferson went 3-7 in 2018 and improved to 5-5 in 2019.

There is little doubt that 5A is tougher, deeper, with teams who have greater overall numbers than 4A.

There is reason for optimism for Allelo and the Warriors in 2020, provided there is a season and East Jefferson navigates not having its full team together during the Phase Two limitations.

Allelo expressed his feelings and frustration on All Access on 106.1 FM Monday night.

“Everybody’s in the same boat,” Allelo said. “You catch yourself trying to, when you get them out there, trying to fall back into quote, unquote, normal times. My job right now is just being the police, just making sure that one group stays away from the other group, making sure they have masks. I’ve become like this non-football administrator almost. It’s making me nuts.”

Allelo is drilling home the rules message daily to his players.

“I told the kids today, if you want to have a season, it doesn’t matter if you understand it or like it, you’re not going to sabotage yourself,” Allelo said. “We’re going to follow the protocols. We’re going to do everything they tell us to do and we’re going to play a season, God-willing. We try to instill in them to try to stay away from people you just don’t know. Try to protect yourself from this unknown, invisible thing.”

A year ago, East Jefferson opened 0-3 against tough non-district opponents before going 5-2 in District 8-5A and closing with a pair of wins.

“I can only blame the guy who made the schedule,” Allelo joked. “West Jefferson hasn’t had a lot of stability the last few years. They will bounce back. The teams on the West Bank are getting better. Higgins is looking to improve. Ehret is Ehret and is always the mountain that you’ve got to try to climb. Chalmette’s been a team that whatever reason, we can play good for maybe two quarters but we can’t beat them. It’s always a nice battle with Riverdale.”

There is one game that stands out above others.

“The last two seasons against Bonnabel, the EJ-Bonnabel rivalry, when I first got here, it was just another game but then to the alumni, it’s like Army-Navy,” Allelo said. “Everybody on this side says beat Bonnabel and I’m sure on that side they are saying beat EJ. That game has been a one-point game the last two years. Fortunately we came out on top 41-40 both times. Brett (Bonnaffons) is doing a great job there. We’re coaching the same kids.”

The Warrior offense scored 20 or more points in eight of 10 games a year ago.

“The exciting part of our offense going from the option world and into the spread air-raid, whatever you call it is that we return our two top receivers including Jermaine Guillard who’s going to be a 3-year starter for us at slot and Brian Shaw will be starting for his second year in a row. Those guys caught a lot of balls for us last year.

East Jefferson has depth at quarterback and experienced running backs.

“For the first time, we really have a quarterback battle with Arthur Oliver who returns,” Allelo said. “Last year, he quarterbacked the first four weeks and had an injury and it wasn’t a bad thing to plus in Isaiah Lee. We have another kid in Keevan Johnson who’s really pushing it to be the starter. I’m excited about it. We also have two senior running backs in Isaac Cummings and Kendrick Stevenson. I’m excited about them.”

The biggest concern on offense is up front.

“We graduated four 3-year players on the offensive line,” Allelo said. “We have one returning starter. “The rest of them are going to be sophomores. We’re going to have to play the game. That’s my concern at night when it comes to football. Are those young guys going to ready to play?”

Defensively, there is some rebuilding to do with many starters from a year ago having graduated.

“Our defense took a bigger hit than our offense,” Allelo said. “All four linebackers graduated, as well as three out of the secondary. We’ve got some really good younger kids in there.”

There are two underclassmen who should shine for the Warriors this season.

“The guy that is our guy is Ahmad Fisher,” Allelo said. “He’ll be a junior this year, in his third year playing for us at defensive end. Ahmad has put 25 pounds on and he is at 195 and is shooting for over 200. He is 6-foot-three and can run like the wind. Sophomore Jalen Guillard led us in interceptions last year at safety. I think the sky’s the limit for him, too!”

Would Allelo prefer a six, seven, or eight game schedule?

“Last year, we ended up tying for 33rd with St. Amant, our week two opponent who beat us,” Allelo said. “We were knocking on the door of the playoffs. All we would have done is win a trip to West Monroe. That’s what the kids want. They dream about the ‘Dome. I would like it to where it is 32 teams to make it (playoffs) instead of 16 so maybe the six or seven game regular season is best. I’ll support whatever direction is goes.”

Allelo is hoping and praying that the 2020 season will take place beginning in October.

“These kids work way too hard,” Allelo said. “That’s why there’s not 200 kids on the football team. Not everybody’s made to go through what we ask them to go through. For them not to have that, under any situation, is heartbreaking.”

If the defense can pull its weight and improve while the offense produces, the Warriors could take the next step and get to the playoffs in 2020.

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Ken Trahan


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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…

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