2014 KHQA BARNSTORM TOUR: LOUISIANA BULLDOGS
Moments like this have been few and far between for the long suffering Louisiana Football over the last decade and a half....so why not relish this teams Summer Camp heroics a little bit.
As the Bulldogs turned the tables on some traditionally strong opposition, standing toe to toe with the likes of Montgomery County and Hermann, and gave no ground.
Granted, they don't award State Championships or even wins for what you do on a practice field in June. But clearly something much better is brewing in the hills of Pike County.
Dallas Castagna: "I think that showed everybody on the team, and everyone who watched, that Louisiana is coming this year and is a different ball team."
Zach Richardson: "It boosted the confidence level a lot. We come in here in summer games, win a couple of games, and we come back here confident."
Greg Purdum: "They feel better about themselves. They've gotten much, much stronger. We go down to Hermann for Team Camp, felt like we did very, very well. The kids were excited. They felt like we did very, very well. And so the confidence level is just going sky high right now. They believe in what we are doing and how we are doing it.
One look says it all. Better numbers. Bigger bodies. More mature faces. Cosmetically speaking, Louisiana just looks more like a legit Clarence Cannon Conference team; the value of a reinvigorated weight program and veteran core of 17 hold over starters.
Greg Purdum: "Last year, we had five Seniors and four that started. This year, we've got 12 Seniors and we've got 15 Juniors. So instead of being a Sophomore/Junior ball club, now we are going to be a Senior/Junior ball club with some experience and confidence that's feeling good about getting started."
From an X's and O's standpoint, The Bulldogs most compelling source of intrigue is an Offensive Backfield that returns completely in tact from last Fall. Quarterback Zach Richardson is a returning Academic All State honoree with terrific athleticism and he gets to distribute the football to a loaded stable of Running Backs.
Zach Richardson: "You can't key on one running back back there. We can trick them up, mess around a little bit. A lot of speed and a lot of strength back there and we can do a lot of things this season."
Greg Purdum: "With a backfield like that...our Offensive Line has gotten much bigger, much quicker. Here again the fundamentals are the key. Getting better fundamentally and being able to get the little things done so we can make the big package come together. We've got some guys that understand route combinations now, so we are not just throwing three step (drops) we can get some sprint out in there, get some misdirection going in the backfield."
Dallas Castagna: "Yeah, we are pretty thankful for having the big and athletic guys that we do. And they know what they are doing. They are getting stuff done. That's what we really need to do is get that push off the ball so our backfield can do what they need to do."
And now in their second season of running the old Chicago Bear 4-6 Defense, the Bulldogs should be a whole lot stingier too.
Greg Purdum: "We are coming after people. Coach (Ryan) Griffen (Defensive Coordinator) understands a lot better what we are doing too. So not just the fronts. But he's putting the stunts with the fronts. Understands what we are doing. The kids are really having fun coming after people. I had a chance to go down and spend time with Coach (Dave) McGinnis with the Rams this Winter, and he gave us some things to run"
Dallas Castagna: "We work on it every day. There's not one day we don't work on tackling. And I think that has really helped us. Because in the past, we never hardly worked on it until Coach Purdum came. And now that we work on that, I can tell we are a totally different ball team. "