Scotlandville looks to settle in with Ricard

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Stability is a key component to success with any entity.

That includes athletics, where there has been anything but stability with the Scotlandville football program.

While the Hornets have thrived in basketball under Carlos Sample, the Hornet football program has gone through a slew of coaches in recent years.

In 2010 and 2011, Ken Hilton led the Scotlandville football team. In 2011 and 2012, Richard Oliver guided the program. In 2013 and 2014, Eric Randall was the head coach of the Hornets. In 2015, Robert Valdez ran the program before departing for St. James. In 2016 and 2017, LaVanta Davis was at the helm as Scotlandville reached the Division I state championship game in 2016. Jules Sullen took over in 2018 and lasted one season. Darren Clark was an interim coach before Ricard arrived.

With Ricard now on board, that is eight head coaches in 10 seasons, including Clark.

Ricard has extensive experience and hopes to stay at Scotlandville for an extensive period of time.

“The plan is to be here long-term,” Ricard said. “It is tough to establish any consistency when you have coaches for just one or two years. I am happy here. I will be here as long as God allows me to be here.”

Ricard was an assistant coach at De La Salle and Hahnville and served as the head coach at St. Martin’s Episcopal.

After becoming head coach at Walker, Ricard took the Wildcats to the Class 5A playoffs in 2017 and resigned after just one regular season game in 2018. He was an outstanding player at Amite, leading the Warriors to a state title game, before signing with LSU.

He transferred to Tulane and became the starting quarterback for the Green Wave.

Despite the constant changes in coaching, Scotlandville has been a very good football program.

In 2017, the Hornets reached the Division I semifinals. In 2015, the Hornets reached the Class 5A regional round and in 2014, they made it to the 5A quarterfinals. In 2013, Scotlandville was in the Division I quarterfinals.

Ricard expects to field a good, very physical, explosive football team in 2019.

“I am excited about the talent level on hand,” Ricard said.

Senior quarterback Jessie Craig (6-1, 180) leads the offense. He has waited his turn behind Levi Lewis and Cameron Armstead.

“I really like Jessie Craig,” Ricard said. “He’s known the young men I’ve work with in the past. He is excited to be working with me. He has gotten better every day with fundamentals and with his leadership quality. He has never missed a workout. He has made huge strides to be a complete quarterback. That has been rewarding.”

The running backs are sophomores Chance Williams (5-8, 175) and Marlon Gunn (6-0, 195).

“It is really exciting to have Chance and Marlon for three more years,” Ricard said. “Gunn is a thick, tough guy who can hit a home run on occasion. He is really good between the tackles. Chance can be special. I coached Pooka Williams at Hahnville and Chance reminds me of him.”

The wide receivers include junior Reggie King (5-9, 162), sophomore Marlon Thomas (6-1, 190) and Jeremiah Harris (5-7, 150), who line up at running back as well. Junior CJ Knighten (6-3, 230) is expected to be the tight end.

“I love our receiving corps,” Ricard said. “Jeremiah Harris is dynamic. We can do a lot with him. Reggie King was second in the triple jump in the state and could have been spring champion as well had he not had an ankle injury. Thomas will play receiver and corner for us. He has been a blessing.”

Up front, a trio of seniors pave the way, including Martrell Thomas (6-0, 260) and Spence Thomas (6-4, 270), along with seniors Jacorie Joseph (6-3, 289) and Devonte Campbell (6-1, 252 Sr.). Senior Jarvis Caldwell (5-11, 289) and Armond Cook-Brown are the others slated to see action.

“We have seven seniors who have started games on the offensive line back from last year,” Ricard said. “That is a real plus. We have nice size as well.”

On defense, senior Jonathan Horton (6-5, 215) is expected to be a standout up front, with great range and speed. If his name sounds familiar, it is because Horton has been a starter for the Scotlandville basketball team which has won two straight state championships. Junior Jamie Cleveland (6-0, 280) is good as well up front. They will be joined by senior Deondre Bell (6-3, 228) and junior Bryce Cage (6-4, 207).

“We are strong up front on defense as well,” Ricard said. “That is the life-blood of any team, being good up front and we are on both sides of the ball. The day Jonathan came out for football, he knocked on my door and told me he wanted to play football. He is a special athlete. He is doing all the right things. He was really good in the spring against Amite and Madison Prep. We just put him on the field and let him go. Bell, Cleveland and Cage can really play.”

Senior Darius Williams (6-2, 215) is the top linebacker and he will be joined by sophomore Aaron Blacher (5-11, 185) and junior Stephen Jackson (5-6, 210).

In the secondary, junior strong safety Mike Brown (5-11, 200) is expected to be a star while senior Chris Daigre (5-10, 180) and junior Jah’von Grigsby (6-0, 195) are the top players. Senior Trimell Carey (5-10, 160) and junior Leroy Robinson (5-7, 149) are slated to start as well.

“Darius will lead our linebackers,” Ricard said. He is getting attention in recruiting. He plays with a high motor. Jackson will play both up and down for us. He is very athletic. Daigre has several college offers. Grigsby and Brown are tough guys. Grigbsy will have multiple Division I offers. They will both really hit you.”

The schedule opens against McKinley at Memorial Stadium on Sept. 6 before the Hornets take a trip to Natchez (MS). After hosting Captain Shreve, the Hornets travel to South Plaquemines in week four. Scotlandville will host Southern Lab in week five.

“McKinley is a Baton Rouge rival,” Ricard said. “They are passionate and will be ready for us. Natchez has a lot of athletes with good size. Captain Shreve is a solid program. They are confident in where they are. South Plaquemines has a great tradition. Southern Lab beat us last year. Our people are not happy about it. We know they are good and we will be ready to play them.”

District 4-5A play begins on Oct. 11 as Ricard faces an interesting game at his former team, Walker. A home game with Central follows before a road game at defending 5A state champion Zachary on Oct. 25. The Hornets will close the regular season at home against Live Oak and Denham Springs.

“The Walker game will feature many different sentiments,” Ricard said. “That is especially true for me. Our kids will be ready to play. Central is on its way back with Sid Edwards. Zachary has won two state titles the last three years. Live Oak is very well coached with good players. Denham Springs beat Scotlandville last year. This is a challenging schedule.”

With a new, motivated coach who hopes to unpack his bags and stay for along time to go with a talented team, Scotlandville should be a force in Division I in 2019.

“We are a hungry team,” Ricard said. “If you do things the right way, good things will happen. Once we get to the playoffs, if we get there playing the right way, we like our chances as well as anyone in Division I.”

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

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