St. John of Plaquemine turns to new leadership again in search of success

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Stability is at the core of success in any organization.

St. John of Plaquemine understands this as well as anyone and is hoping to settle the issue on a long-term basis.

The Eagles open the 2017 football season with their third head coach in as many years. Ashton “Woddy” Cagnolatti left the program to take an assistant position under his stepbrother Jeff Jordan, who was named head coach of the St. Stanislaus Rock-A-Chaws in Bay St Louis Mississippi after Bill Conides left St. Stanislaus to take over at Denham Springs, replacing Dru Nettles.

James Piker takes over the helm of the Eagles. A veteran coach, Piker has experience in the parish, having coach at Plaquemine High from 2009-11. In between the stops in Iberville Parish, Piker served as a student and graduate assistant coach at Southeastern Louisiana in 2012-13 during the Lions 2013 run to the NCAA FCS Championship Series third round when the Lions captured the school’s first ever Southland Conference Football Championship.

In 2014, Piker served as the defensive line coach at University High during their run to the Division II state title and from 2015-16, he served as offensive/defensive line coach at Catholic Pointe Coupee.

After reaching the playoffs in 2015, the Eagles went winless (0-10) last season but should be improved with 13 primary players returning from last year’s squad with most playing both ways. The Eagles do return junior quarterback Adam Blanchard, who will also play defensive back as well while running the flexbone attack. Junior running backs Justin Rivet and Adam Theriot also return and both will also play defensive back for the Eagles.

Other two-way starters up front include seniors Bailey Albarado, Logan Rodriguez and Logan Morel. Senior Reese Barrilleaux will play tight end and defensive line. Seniors Devin Brock and Landon LeBlanc will see time at running back and defensive back, along with sophomore Cobie Lockett. Senior Jacob Reinhardt will split time between wide receiver and defensive line. Junior Devin Romig will play offensive line and linebacker.

The Eagles will open the season hosting False River August 31 and will travel just up LA-1 to Brusly in week two. Week three is an opponent Coach Piker knows well as the Eagles will travel across the parish line to face his former squad in Catholic-Pointe Coupee. Weeks four and five will see the Eagles facing Covenant Christian at Nicholls and hosting Highland Baptist.

St. John will open District 6-1A play week six with a bang, taking on two-time defending Division IV state champion Southern Lab. Week seven has the Eagles hosting one of their two parish rivals in White Castle, followed by a home game against powerful Kentwood. Week nine has the Eagles hosting their other parish and district rival in the East Iberville Tigers. The regular season closes with St. John traveling to Donaldsonville to take on the always tough Ascension Catholic Bulldogs.

“St John will have their third head Football Coach in as many years and we will be looking for a sense of consistency going into the 2017 season,” Piker said. “I hope to provide that. We will derive consistency in the experience and leadership of several key returning starters from the 2016 team in one of the deepest and toughest districts in Louisiana.”

Piker has a very open opinion about starting positions.

“As far as starters go, we’re still looking at different guys in different spots and evaluating those moves as the pre-season progresses,” Piker said. “Nothing is guaranteed. We want to get our best players on the field.”

Piker is looking forward to facing his former team.

“As far as playing Catholic-PC, I’m looking forward to playing them,” Piker said. “I’m very proud of the things we accomplished during my time in New Roads and hold the relationships I was able to build with those players, coaches, and families very near to my heart. We share a lot of similarities with Catholic-PC as both a school and football program. It will be a great opportunity for us to gauge where our program is at and continue to build an already great rivalry.”

Expect the Eagles to end the current 11-game winless streak at some point this season as they start over again, hopefully for the last time in a while.

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Randy Pistorius

Reporter

Randy Pistorius is a lifelong resident of South Louisiana and is currently working in the communications field in the Baton Rouge Metropolitian Area. Randy’s start in journalism came while still in high school at De La Salle in New Orleans and that carried with him to Southeastern Louisiana University where he wrote for the Lions Roar and also worked in…

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