It may seem a bit deep into the season to be searching for an offensive identity, but it seems that’s exactly what the Denham Springs High football team is doing heading into Friday's 7 p.m. home game against Zachary.
“We’ve just got to continue to get guys comfortable playing that haven’t had a chance to get a lot of experience,” Beard said. “Their experience is coming in games against Central and versus Zachary. We had a little injury bug this year. That’s part of the game. It’s a tough game, but that’s also why I love the game. It’s going to give guys the opportunity to step up, but in the process of stepping up, there’s a lot of work that has to be done to get a kid comfortable and get their mind right to go do a job against big time opponents. That’s where we’re at. We’re trying to find where those pieces fit and continue to grow the not just the offense or defense, but the program, in the process. (It’s) a program that has struggled recently. We’re trying to get it right.”
The Yellow Jackets (3 -2, 0 -1) lost quarterback Reese Mooney to a broken ankle earlier this season. He had surgery earlier this week and will be out for the remainder of the season.
The Yellow Jackets managed 99 yards of total offense last week, and Beard said the team could use Ryder Wygant, Jerry Horne and running back Ray McKneely at quarterback this week.
“All of them have a different skill set,” Beard said. “Ray can throw enough. We’re looking for that guy that really gives us a threat down field.”
“The big thing is, it’s not necessarily who the quarterback is, it’s what the quarterback position is,” Beard said. “I think our quarterback’s (Mooney) really good. Don’t get me wrong. I think he’s a very good player, but he’s a very good player for what we were doing. When you’re on a quarterback depth chart with names that weren’t even on the quarterback depth chart in June, well, things have to get a little different, and that’s what we’ve got to figure out. I love the challenge, and I love coaching. That’s why you do this.”
“The coaching part of it’s not just Xs and Os and what you put on a board because everything looks good on a board and everything’s supposed to score on a board,” Beard continued. “It’s how are you going to get your Joes to do their job to give you the best chance to be successful?”
Also, Mason Edwards, who had an interception return for a touchdown in last week’s 34-7 loss to Central, fractured his leg.
“He could be out a little while,” Beard said. “He could be back in a few weeks depending on how well his body heals up …”
Beard said there’s a chance tight end Andrew Goodwin (knee) could return in two to three weeks.
Beard praised the Yellow Jackets’ defensive effort in last week’s game.
“I thought they played really well. I really do,” he said. “I think we hit a little bit of a kind of a panic button there, got put in some tough spots and probably ran out of gas a little bit, but I thought our guys really competed and gave us everything they had. I’m not claiming this as a moral victory by any means, but you have to start somewhere, and the fact that our kids did play for 48 minutes, they gave us everything they had. We saw some glimpses of a chance to be really good defensively. We’ve just got to be more consistent, and we’ve got to understand the job. You can’t panic, and we can’t try to do too much as coaches and put them in binds themselves. Just let them play. Trust the process. Trust the game plan. Let them go play. That’s really where we’re at.”
On Friday, the Yellow Jackets host Class 5A No. 2 Zachary (6-0), which is coming off a 54-21 win over Live Oak.
Broncos quarterback Eli Holstein went 21 for 27 for 416 yards and three touchdowns last week, while Kameran Senegal had six receptions for 152 yards, and Charles Robertson had five catches for 145 yards.
“I love the quarterback,” Beard said. “I think he’s a great player. He’s very accurate. I think he’s sneaky athletic. I think he can do some things. You might want to take away his deep ball. I think with him and (Connor) Wisham in the backfield, it can cause you some problems in the run game, and you think, ‘OK, well I’m going to stop the run game.’ Well, they’ve got dudes that can run. They can go get the football, and you’ve got a quarterback that’s got a big enough arm that can get it out there. They can give you some threats there.
“They’re a well-balanced team, and I think that’s really why I like it more than I think I have in the past,” Beard continued. “I think their o line is good. I don’t think it’s one of their best o lines, and I think they’ll tell you that. I don’t think that’s a secret, but I’ll tell you across the board, I think this team is more balanced and a better team than they’ve had at Zachary that I’ve seen.”
Beard said he’s also been impressed by the Broncos’ defense.
“They’re aggressive up front, which means we’ve got to be aggressive back,” he said. “They’re just a well-coached, sound football team. I’m going to venture to say what you saw them do against Live Oak will be a lot of what we see. It’s going to be an aggressive game, and I can’t wait to see how our kids react against an opponent like that. You say you want to win a state championship? You say you want to turn this program around? Well, these are the games that give you the opportunity to have a defining moment, where you really want to go with this.”
“They’ve built a program,” Beard said. “They’ve built a dynasty there. It’s the perfect landing spot for Brew (Zachary coach David Brewerton) to do what he did. Now it’s our job to try to figure out a way to match that and compete with them and ultimately beat them.”