The Port Allen Pelicans have officially found a roost this year after changing districts. The West Baton Rouge club bumped down in classification from 6-3A, with neighboring Brusly, to 8-2A.
Port Allen will look to find more success in a lower classification after suffering in a stout 3A district for the past several seasons.
Last season, Port Allen finished 3-8 overall for the second year in a row and went 3-4 in district play. They earned a postseason birth in the 3A bracket, but were blown out in round one to Iowa.
Not only will the Pelicans have a new nest, but they will also have a new head coach. Port Allen named Don Gibson, 35, its new head football coach in spring of this year and he brings quite the resume. Gibson played football in two states and has coached in three different states. He earned 11 years of coaching experience and served as head coach at a 4A school in Tulsa, Oklahoma for four seasons.
“I’m excited for this opportunity,” Gibson said. “Port Allen is a great place and I look forward to being a part of a great community and building a program through hard work and accountability.”
The change in district and adjusting to a new head coach should be a nice shift for the Pelicans, especially with the handful of key starters returning to the field this fall.
Port Allen returns four offensive starters and six defensive starters this season. Coach Gibson expects big things from a few key players on offense, including senior quarterback Harold Jones, senior running back Norrice Cummings and sophomore running back Edward Wilson.
On the defensive side of the ball, look for seniors Clyde Robertson, linebacker, Brenton Brown, defensive end, and Rashawn West, defensive back, to stand out on the gridiron this year.
The Pelicans will look for success behind these veterans and with the addition of these first-years standouts: sophomore defensive back Myles Hopkins, junior linebacker TJ Shepard and senior wide receiver Donald Johnson.
Gibson will need receiver Johnson to help run the spread offense this year, especially with the loss of the team’s extremely productive 2016 wide receiving group to graduation. This team’s strength will lie in the defense, especially with the amount of losses the Pelicans had on the offensive side of the ball.
“This team is a group of guys that are coming together and are beginning to understand the meaning of team,” Gibson noted.
How the Pelicans will turn out is a bit of a mystery this season with the losses on offense, but changing their slate of regular opponents could prove to be helpful to the team’s development.
This year, the Pelicans will open non-district play against familiar opponents at Brusly, home against Plaquemine, Donaldsonville before opening district play in their new 2A home against Dunham.
They follow up with a district game road trip to Northeast, then take a district break on the road against Loranger. The Pelicans close out their final four games of the regular season in 8-2A at home against Episcopal, at East Feliciana, home against Capitol and on the road against The Church Academy.