ITLR Preview: Brusly High Panthers ready to roll under new leadership

Andrew Green

The Brusly High Panthers wanted to take advantage of their stacked senior class last season, but ended up finishing out in the middle of the pack in District 6-3A.  The Panthers did show some improvement in Marc Brown’s second year at the school with an overall 8-4 record, but their season came to an end after a blowout 26-56 loss to Jennings in round two of the 3A postseason.

The Panthers finished 4-3 in district play after garnering victories over Donaldsonville, Glen Oaks, Port Allen and Baker.  This year, however, the team is in the midst of change once again after the hiring of new head coach Hoff Schooler.  Schooler comes to Brusly High in his first ever head coaching position in football and replaces Marc Brown, who accepted the head coaching position at Livonia High over the summer.

“I could not ask for a better place to be than Brusly High School,” Schooler said.  “The administration, other coaches, and community have been wonderful in helping me to get my feet on the ground in a pretty short amount of time.

“I believed from the first time that I visited the community that it could be special and the people here have proved me right.  I look forward to seeing everyone on Friday nights this fall and each day the boys and coaches are working hard to make sure we have a fun team to watch.”

The change in leadership may be a tough adjustment of the Panthers this season, especially after returning just a small amount of veterans on offense.  The team returns just three starters on the multiple-styled offense this season, and lost standout quarterback Jason Holliday, defensive tackle Ben Bergeron and running back Zavian Bell to graduation.

First year head coach Schooler believes one team strength will lie in the trenches of the offensive line.  Look for sophomore guard Jonathan Veal to standout this season.  First-year starter at halfback Keithen Francois should find some success this year on the ground behind a stout offensive line.

The key to the Panthers season, however, will heavily rely on the other side of the ball.  The Panthers are returning a healthy group of eight defensive veterans in 2017, and like the offensive line, Schooler expects big things from his defense, specifically his linebackers.

This year’s linebacking group will be led by standout defensive senior Deandre Brown.  Look for senior Garrett Roberts to provide upfront support at defensive end and first year starting safety Harrison Boudreaux to play stingy ball hawk in the defensive backfield.  According to Schooler, the Panthers will run a 4-2-5 defense in 2017.

“We are excited about the upcoming season,” Schooler said.  “Although the summer was a little shorter for us, due to me coming to Brusly after the school year, the boys have come to work each day with a great attitude and have been willing to give their best effort.

“We still have a long way to go in adjusting to the new schemes both offensively and defensively, however, we are getting closer each day to where we need to be when September gets here.”

The Panthers kick off their season at home against parish rival and former district rival Port Allen, then follow up the next week against neighboring rival St. John. Brusly then hits the road to take on Belaire High, then return to open district play against Baker.

Brusly then hits the road to take on 6-3A champion West Feliciana and return home to face University Lab.  On Oct. 13, the Panthers have a district break and will travel to face off against Central B.R.  In the last three weeks, Brusly will finish out district play at Glen Oaks, home against Mentorship Academy and close out the regular season at Madison Prep.