The young Panthers (0-0, District 9-3A) got off to a rocky start last week, losing 41-0, to Central Catholic in the Morgan City Jamboree.
“Everyone knows we’re in a rebuilding mode right now,” first-year BHS head coach Craig Brodie said. “Central Catholic is a good football team but I think putting up 41 points in a jamboree was a bit excessive, we were never in position to threaten them in any way. I just told the kids that we have to get better, because we play them again in a couple weeks.”
Despite the lopsided loss, the longtime coach is happy with the Panther’s game week prepara-tion.
“The kids responded well,” Brodie said. “We had a few injuries in the jamboree so some other kids will get a chance to play Friday. We are so young that a lot of our kids are seeing their first real on-field action.”
Berwick will, however, get starting quarterback Reed Leonard back after he missed last week’s dress rehearsal. Brodie held the junior signal caller out of jamboree action after he was hurt in a scrimmage.
“Reed could’ve played last week, he was cleared but we decided to rest him,” Brodie said.
Sophomore quarterback Bobby Boudreaux got the start against Central Catholic.
“Reed has played the position longer,” the coach said. “He reads defenses pretty well and he’s a dual threat, he can run if a play breaks down.”
Berwick will have its hands full with Chalmette (0-0, District 9-5A).
The Owls have had three straight years of win improvements under fourth-year head coach Jason Tucker, including a seven-win campaign in 2010, but this year’s team will be without 18 seniors that provided the bulk of the experience and productivity on both sides of the ball last year.
Chalmette sprinted out to a 7-1 start last year, but dropped their last three games, including a 47-13 loss against district rival West Jefferson and a 42-6 playoff loss to state finalist West Monroe in the first round.
The Owls beat Slidell, 9-7, in jamboree action last week.
“Chalmette is a very talented team,” Brodie said. “They come right at you, they play power foot-ball. They have some good size upfront and their skilled people can make plays.”
Tucker said he likes the speed on this year’s Owls’ squad, saying it could make up for the lack of experience at certain positions.
“Our speed is as good and as fast as it’s been since I got here,” he said. “That aspect of this team really stands out.”
With more than half the starting defense returning, Tucker said he expects his seasoned defense to be the strength of the team.
“They play a three-three defense and they like to bring their linebackers from all over,” Brodie said. “This team will present us with a big challenge but we will get out there and compete.”
Brodie also feels like the weather may be a factor in the game.
“The forecast calls for rain and that may limit some of the things we want to do,” he said. “But it doesn’t change what they’re going do, they’re going to run it right at us.”
Berwick did get some decent play from their defensive front last week.
“They played pretty well,” Brodie said. “It’s a young group upfront but we do have some bodies we can rotate there.”
Matt Skelton, a multi-sport standout, returns at defensive end to anchor the group. Trevor He-bert (6’-1”, 185) will start opposite Skelton at defensive end. The inside guys, Ronald Barrow (5’-9”, 220) and Kyle Riggens (5’-11”, 185), both play with good motors.
Others in the mix on the defensive include Nick Duthu, Ty Von Batiste and Dontrell Clark.
Berwick, 2-8 last season, has 66 players on the 2011 roster. The Panthers had fewer than 40 players at the end of last season.
Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. at Geisler Stadium.