Tigers kickstart season after successful spring showing

Andrew Green
Lyndel Joseph

East Iberville Tigers hosted more student athletes than ever at their spring practice this season under the new leadership of coach Ron Lejeune.

According to Lejeune, 37 students made it out to Tiger field for practice and the scrimmage against Christian Life and he expects more to sign up through the summer.

“The kids are buying in to what we’re doing and they’re liking the coaching,” Lejeune said.  “We’ve been talking about a culture, being a family out there.  We’re trying to make it fun.”

Lejeune is making it a point to get as many of the kids as possible contributing to the team.  Earlier in May, the Tigers traveled to take on Christian Life in a spring scrimmage.  They held CL scoreless on their first drive and EIHS responded with a score to take an early lead.

“If the kids have been coming, they deserve to play,” he said.  “The kids were encouraged by the scrimmage.  So much that they wanted to start practice again the week after the game.”

Though the turnout was high, the Tigers will have their fair share of roster troubles by the time the regular season rolls around.

EIHS is starting five freshmen on defense and out of the 37 kids that have shown out, only seven of them are returning players.

“We are starting from ground zero,” Lejeune said, “but the interest is there.”  EIHS also hosted about 10 middle school student athletes on top of the 37 high school athletes.

There have been some major standouts for coach Lejeune and his staff.  Senior Ricky Morris, who has not played since his freshman year, dominated for the Tigers at running back and linebacker.  Starting senior quarterback Lyndell Joseph will return to the helm in the fall.  The Tigers have nine seniors on the roster, but only four of them played last season.

“The interest and participation is picking up,” he said.  “The commitment is definitely changing, but it’s a work in progress.  They’re wanting to learn and wanting to come to practice and do the right thing.”

Linebacker and center Lester Joseph, freshman defensive end Cedrick Alexander and sophomore Mike Triplett (safety) will each carry the strength of the Tiger defense on their shoulders.

The team of mostly freshmen and sophomores will be lead by what Ron Lejeune is calling his best coaching staff he’s had as a head coach.

“I’m going to have a better coaching staff here than I had at 4A Tara and Belaire,” Lejeune added.  The staff includes coach Gary Burnett, who has six state championships under his belt and will serve as a defensive coach for EIHS.

Summer plans include weightlifting and participating in the weekly 7-on-7 tournament at Plaquemine High each Wednesday morning in June.

“I’m happy to be back after twenty years,” Lejeune said, “and I’m wanting to do a lot of good for the community.  I would like to encourage guys that haven’t come out to try out.  They can start June 5 and be ready for Fall 2017.”

The Tigers went 1-9 last season and were 1-5 in district play after defeating parish rival St. John in September to earn their first win since October 2012.  This season, Lejeune and the Tigers will look to revamp the East Iberville football culture and remain contenders in 6-1A for years to come.