BASILE – Sometimes a loss can bring the best out of a team.
Basile’s only loss in District 4-1A was to rival St. Edmund and Bearcat head coach Kevin Bertrand said that game proved to be the break-through game of the season.
“When we played them last year I don’t think we were playing real good football,” he said. “We felt in the second half of that game was when our season began to turn around and that kind of got us going.”
Bertrand has led the Bearcats to an overall record of 51-22 as he enters his fifth year as head coach.
“We are always excited about the start of a new season,” the coach said. “When you lose a game in late November, you can’t wait to start again.”
Under Bertrand, the Bearcats have gone to the state playoffs six times, including last season when Basile reached the quarterfinals before falling to Oak Grove.
“It kind of an expectation around here for us to win and is is a challenge every year that we want to rise up to,” the coach said. “I tell our players to embrace the Bearcat tradition and be ready for teams to play their best against us.”
After finishing with an overall record of 9-4 last season, Bertrand appears to have the talent to make another run at a district title as well as another trip deep into the state playoffs with several upperclassmen returning at key positions.
“Being a small school, it is important for us to be able to create depth,” Bertrand said. “We need to create back-ups. We are looking for those guys who could step in at a moment’s notice.”
Bertrand will feature the Wing-T offensive formation in 2018, with senior Dawson Ashford returning as the starting quarterback. Also returning as starters in the backfield are senior fullback Andre Reed, last year’s rushing leader, and junior tailbacks Logan David and Isaiah Ceasar.
Returning starters along the offensive front include senior Gage Johnson and junior Gabe Duplechin at the guard positions.
Three new starters will fill the tackle spots as well as the center position. Sophomore Bryson McCoy take over as the center, with senior Chrisitian Fruge taking over the right tackle position and sophomore Wesley Lejuene penciled in at left tackle.
The receiver corps rounds out the offensive unit, with junior Isaac Cortez and senior Jaylen Thomas at tight end and split end, respectively. Senior Abdul Mllingo will take over the kicking and punting as well as seeing time in the secondary.
“We have the core of our team back from last year,” he said. “We need them to step up and be the leaders.”
With nine defensive starters set to return, the Bearcats should be ready to pick up where they finished in the 3-4 basic defensive set. The lone new starter on the Bearcat defense is freshman Ethan Bazinet at the strong safety spot.
Logan David will join Bazinet at strong safety. Junior Isaiah Ceasar is set at free safety, while Jaylen Thomas and senior Simon Ceasar are the cornerbacks. Dawson Ashford will also see duty in the secondary as could senior Landon James.
Leading the linebacker spots for the Bearcat defense are seniors Andre Reed and Jay Pitre. The defensive front includes senior Tanner Fontenot, a new starter at nose guard. He will be flanked by senior end Gage Johnson and junior end Isaac Cortez.
“This year’s group of seniors has a great work ethic,” the coach said. “Hopefully the summer workouts pay dividends in the season.”
Basile opens the season at Iota before three straight home games against Mamou, Sacred Heart of Ville Platte and district rival St. Edmund.
“We face a very tough non-district schedule but I think that gets us prepared for the long district season and the playoffs.”
After trips to Merryville and South Cameron, the Bearcats return home to face Elton. After visiting Oberlin, Basile will entertain Grand Lake. The Bearcats conclude the regular season at Hamilton Christian.
“There are traditional rival games with Elton, Oberlin and St. Ed’s,” Bertrand said. “Those are always tough contests every year. “I am happy to have Elton and St. Ed’s here at home. I think the district top-to-bottom will be more even this year.”