Ryan Serpas has been coaching for a while, but he, like a lot of his coaching brethren, are in the midst of some new experiences thanks to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
After the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Executive Committee voted to cancel the remainder of the spring sports season in early April, it didn’t only halt championship events. It also put the clamps on spring football.
“This is the first time in my coaching career that I’ve been without a spring football period,” Serpas said. “The only thing that I could kind of compare this to as far as … what’s happening is No. 1, with the flood that we had a few years back, and the other thing that I can compare it with is going to be (Hurricane) Katrina.”
“It’s definitely uncharted territory and something that we’re all throughout the state trying to work to figure out how best to handle the situation.”
The Bulldogs, who missed out on postseason play last season, were scheduled to play Kenner Discovery in their spring scrimmage on May 15.
“Obviously going into spring, you’ve got some seniors that you’ve got to replace, so you’re trying to plug in some kids who you think are going to be capable of getting things done through trial and error,” Serpas said. “That’s kind of how we were going to use that 10-day period to see who was ready to accept those challenges. That’s the way that I use my spring to kind of evaluate it.”
Instead, that evaluation period won’t begin until later in the summer, if Phase I of the reopening of the state goes as planned. Phase II would begin on June 5, with the LHSAA’s summer rules expected to go into effect on June 8.
“Throughout the summer you kind of do the 7-on-7 stuff and things to kind of develop more football knowledge as well and scheme into things, but that spring aspect of it is something that is new to me as far as all the question marks that we had coming in still remain there and will remain there all the way throughout the summer regardless of whenever we’re able to start back up,” Serpas said.
Offensively, the Bulldogs return quarterback Bryan Babb and running back Koby Linares but lost the bulk of the offensive line to graduation.
“Those guys aren’t easily replaceable,” Serpas said. “A lot of those kids have been multiple-year starters, and having some new faces come in and do a good job here and there, we have an idea of how we think things will play out, but you don’t know until you actually get in that situation.”
Additionally, the Bulldogs lost receivers Trevon Washington, Nilan Pinestraw and Isaiah Netter to graduation. Washington was a first-team All-Parish selection at receiver and also earned honorable mention recognition on the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s Class 2A All-State team.
“It’s something that you hope that these newer kids are going to be able to step up and fill the shoes of what those kids did before them,” Serpas said of replacing his receivers.
Serpas said the Bulldogs aren’t planning on any scheme changes on offense.
“We’re just going to add a little bit more detail to what we do, maybe get a little bit deeper into some RPO-type situations,” Serpas said.
While there aren’t any changes planned on offense, that’s not the case on defense.
“Defensively, things are still kind of up in the air on what we’re going to do,” Serpas said. “There might be some changes scheme-wise to what we do. That definitely was going to be kind of the focus (in spring drills) of where we wanted to try to make sure that we were on the same page was going to be with the defensive side of the ball because I think that’s a little bit more of where we struggled at last year.”
Serpas said not having spring drills stings a bit for a defense that must replace its entire secondary from last season.
“Having those kids come in and learn the techniques and be able to perform, that was something that we were really hoping to be able to do,” Serpas said. “Hopefully at some point this summer maybe – it might be late July – we can get into the aspect of using some 7-on-7 to kind of see those kids develop the way that we hoped they would develop throughout spring.”
As of now, Serpas said the Bulldogs are planning on doing some 7-on-7 work in July, if possible.
“You can only sit around for so much,” Serpas said. “I’m chomping at the bit to get back after it and get my kids around and see what we’ve got moving forward, and I think the kids will be as well.”