The 2011 Tigers are doing just that under the direction of second-year head coach Brandon Nowlin.
“I see kids out there that have never played football and there are also kids who were specializing in other sports who are playing football and that makes a big difference when you are trying to rebuild a program,” Morgan City alumnus Scott Tregle (Class of 1987) said.
MCHS teams suffered from low participation as the program floundered in recent years. The once proud Tigers haven’t made the playoffs since 1998.
“I can’t recall any Morgan City football coach coming to junior high games in the past,” former Tiger Larry Doiron Jr. (Class of 1987) said. “This is the first year that the junior high is running the same offense as the high school. It means a lot to the kids and their parents when they see the high school coach taking an interest and that’s what Coach Nowlin is doing.”
Another former Tiger with twin boys playing youth football has also taken notice.
“There is certainly a new spirit around Morgan City High football,” Sonny Deshotel (Class of 1988) said. “Nowlin has done a great job of pulling this program together and I’m thrilled about that with kids heading to the high school. Having a competitive football team will only make their high school years better. I remember when this stadium would be packed for every game.”
Tiger Stadium was nearly full for Friday’s Homecoming game, which the Tigers won, 31-16, over Ellender Memorial. Morgan City improved to (5-2) with the win and guaranteed the team a winning season.
“Brandon knows football,” former Tiger Trent Bigler (Class of 1983) said. “He played at LSU and won a national championship under (Nick) Saban so he knows how to prepare and build a team. He also started a great off-season conditioning program and after he gets a couple classes through that program, he will add some depth. I just hope that we can keep him here in the future.”
Nowlin was promoted to head coach last season when then first-year coach Brett Bonnaffons resigned just before the season started. He never coached a game at Morgan City High.
“He stepped into a very tough situation,” former Tiger Mike Beadle (Class of 1988) said. “But he has shown great leadership and kids follow strong leaders. When you have somebody that has gone somewhere and done something in their life, the kids look at them and say if he could do it and he’s teaching us, then we can do it. That leadership is what is pushing them through right now and the kids are starting to believe. I think there will be some good days ahead for Morgan City football.”
Beadle’s son Brandon is a senior linebacker and tight end for the Tigers. He’s new to the team this season, but the group that went through last year’s struggles know how far the team and program has come.
“It has definitely not been easy,” Nowlin said. “There are a bunch of kids who were with us last season that went through a lot of hard times. Whereever we end up this year, we are in the embryo stages of building the kind of program we want here at Morgan City. Obviously, winning brings more players and fans to the stands, but we are just starting out. I’m very proud of this team and I’m very thankful to my assistant coaches because there is no way I can do any of this without them.”
Nowlin, a Baton Rouge native, coached as an assistant at Catholic High under longtime head coach Dale Weiner in 2004 and 2005. He went on to serve as defensive line coach at Iona College of New York in 2006 before becoming tight ends and fullbacks coach at Adrian College in Adrian, Michigan in 2007 before coaching tight ends at University of Central Arkansas. Nowlin came to Morgan City as an assistant coach with Bonnaffons. He holds a degree in business management as well as a Masters in Sports Management from LSU.