Coming off its best season in program history, Leesville isn't taking it easy.
The Wampus Cats open up the season against Jennings Friday night, which features two of the top players in the state.
"They're a tough, southwest Louisiana football team," Leesville head coach Robert Causey said. "They are physical like all those schools, and that's why you want to play them. They are tough kids that have been running the same offense for years – from junior high to high school. The kids know what to do and when to do it."
Jennings running back Trevor Etienne – brother of current Clemson Tiger Travis Etienne – has been offered by LSU as a sophomore, and defensive lineman Keenan Landry has also picked up on an offer from LSU.
The two Jennings standouts will test the new offensive line and defense, which has plenty of new pieces.
"We really haven't had a chance to breathe yet," Causey said. "The last two weeks (against St. Louis Catholic and Many), they've been challenged by their opponents at a scrimmage and jamboree. That's not really a big thing to us. We expect week-to-week to be challenged in certain areas. Last week, we were challenged up front. Those big backs at Many are as good as anyone we will face. I thought our kids responded well to it, considering we didn't really game plan for it. We just went and played."
Leesville retooled its entire offensive line from last season, but Causey said it held up well in the preseason.
"I can't complain," he said about his line. "Considering what Many does every down with guys in every gap. I thought we played well at times. We protected Jacob (Mount), and he threw well. We ran the football well in two quarters of play, considering we didn't really run a whole lot. They're not very big, but they are feisty."
The Wampus Cats will roll out a potentially explosive offense with Jacob Mount at quarterback, D'Ante and Caleb Gallashaw at running back and Noah Allain as a primary receiver at the tight end spot.
"It's going to be a good indication on how we match up," Causey said. "You always want a Week 1 opponent that can gauge where you are at, and we feel like Jennings does that. Win or lose, we are going to be a better football team."
Despite a perfect 10-0 record last season and a playoff run that ended in the Class 4A State Semifinals, Causey says the wins and losses are not what defines their season."
"What makes them go is the same as any team, and that's their love for one another," Causey said. "That's when you get into those special years. We tell them that even if you do everything right, it doesn't mean life is going to go your way. Life isn't that way, but at least you know you did the right things. We are going to practice and prepare the right way and let the chips fall where they may."