South Plaquemines experienced, poised for upcoming season
Lyle Fitte has seen the very best of things at South Plaquemines.
As a player, Fitte was part of consecutive state championship teams under Cyril Crutchfield when he was an all-state performer in 2007 and 2008.
Entering his sixth season, Fitte has worked hard to restore the program to respectability. Now, that hard work should produce a state championship contender in 2022.
Fitte had his Hurricanes in the playoffs a year ago, falling to Welsh in the opening round to complete a solid 5-4 season.
Can South Plaquemines build on that momentum?
It is an experienced team returning in 2022.
“This senior class was the first class that I taught and coached,” Fitte said. “I have a special relationship with them. They work very hard and we are now in a position to excel overall with our talent and experience.”
The Hurricanes are excited about having 18 starters back.
That includes nine starters on offense, led by freshman Rod Parker (5-7, 180).
“It was a lot of teaching moments and learning for Rod last year but he took a huge stride forward in the spring and summer and he has a better understanding of the offense and he is ready to go,” Fitte said.
As an eighth-grader, Parker completed 73 of 127 passes for 1,076 yards and 14 touchdowns with just three interceptions.
The offensive line features four returning starters, including seniors Melvin Mackey (5-10, 220), Kade Turner (5-11, 280) and Michael Brown (5-11, 255). Also back is junior Brysten Prout (6-0, 205) and the fifth starter is Tylon Riley (6-1, 230).
“We will lean on our offensive line a lot this year,” Fitte said. “A lot of them play both ways but we have some depth up front that we have not had in the past.”
The running backs are Daejawn Smith (5-10, 160) and Kamen Phillips (5-9, 175).
“We lost Malachi Williams to an ACL injury in the spring,” Fitte said. “Phillips is good while Daejawn Smith is a special athlete and we just want to get the ball in his hands.”
All four wide receivers are back, including seniors Reed Sanger (5-9, 160) and Kamen Phillips and Smith who will play there as well. Last season, Smith had 49 catches for 747 yards and eight touchdowns and rushed 60 times for 423 yards and three touchdowns.
The defense also returns nine starters.
The defensive front is stout and experienced, led by Brown. He is joined by juniors Aiden Gonzales (5-8, 295) and Richie Espadron (6-1, 235), along with sophomore Deanel McGee (6-4, 225).
Espadron had 71 tackles, including four sacks with two forced fumbles last season while McGee had 46 tackles, including a whopping 16 sacks and a pair of forced fumbles in 2022.
“I love our defensive front,” Fitte said. “This is one of the best defensive lines in 2A in the state. I will put them up against anybody. They get after it. That will be our staple on defense.”
The linebacker spot is manned by senior returning starters in Kamen Phillips and Jordie Ancalade (5-10, 185) and a returning starter in sophomore Alex Phillips (5-10, 165).
“Both Phillips brothers are really good and run to the ball,” Fitte said.
The secondary is solid with a pair of returning starters including senior Kameron Williams (6-0, 145) and Sanger. They are joined in the deep by junior Davon Green (5-7, 130) and freshman Josh Barthelemy (5-6, 135).
Sanger finished with 58 tackles and two interceptions last season while Williams had 34 tackles and four interceptions.
“We have a few starters back in the deep but we will rotate some new guys in as well,” Fitte said. “We will count on the seniors to provide leadership.”
Espadron will handle kicking duties while Sanger is the punter.
South Plaquemines opens with a road trip to Mamou before hosting Belle Chasse in the battle of Plaquemines Parish. Home games with Jewel Sumner and Sarah T. Reed follow before playing at M.L. King Charter.
“Mamou will be a long trip and it is good to take a trip early in the year,” Fitte said. “We may have to do it in the playoffs. Belle Chasse is a big rivalry. We played M.L. King last year and they are very athletic. Reed is a new program and I know the coaches there. Sumner is a run-heavy team which will prepare us well.”
District 9-2A play opens at Houma Christian before home games with Fisher and Thomas Jefferson. Then comes a trip to Mentorship Academy before closing with a home game against Jefferson Rise Charter.
“We have a lot of teams in the league that are very young,” Fitte said. “We just want to stay competitive and be ready for the playoffs. Of course, we want to win the district.”
With an enormously experienced team and good size, South Plaquemines appears poised to return to the playoffs and do some damage in 2022.
“I told the kids that expectations are at an all-time high,” Fitte said. “If we stay healthy, I expect to be playing in late November. These kids are hungry. They want to win and they expect to win. It’s refreshing. We have numbers with about 45 kids and we have talent.”
Click here for more CCS Prep Football team previews (including archives of past season previews).
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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 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 Sports Media Association, National Football…