The Acadiana Christian School football team is off to one a hot 4-1 start to the season, and looking to advance beyond the semifinals in the Association of Christian Educators of Louisiana football league that they reached last year.
The Lions have been to the state semifinals four straight years. Fage also would like to get a home playoff game.
“I’m hoping just to get past that round that’s knocked us out four years in a row,” head coach Dwight Fage said.
With most of his offense back from last year, Fage said the Lions are looking pretty good. The team had to cancel its game against Christian Homeschool Sports Association of Acadiana, which was to be played Saturday, because of Hurricane Delta. Originally scheduled for Thursday, it was moved to Saturday before being canceled.
“We’ve won four in a row,” Fage said. “My first game I had seven kids that never played a high school game before, but they’ve gotten better and better. We’ve been able to get stronger and faster in the summer. We worked out all July and August. I’m excited to see where we’re at.”
Most of those new players are on defense. Only fullback Gabe Boudreaux is gone from last year’s offense. Hunter Raggette, the new fullback, played some at the position last year in mopup time.
“Wyatt Deselle is my quarterback; he’s a big kid, he’s a strong kid, he’s thrown the ball well, he’s run really well,” Fage said. “Hunter Raggette’s done a good job for us at fullback.”
Two other ballcarriers also are standing out. Cade Miller, who earned Daily Iberian Best of the Teche honors in 2019 and is being recruited, has more than 700 all-purpose yards, Fage said. Andrew Judice has about 500 yards.
“Those two kids have really just carried us,” Fage said. “We’re averaging about 38, 40 points a game, so we’re doing really well offensively.”
The defense has improved, he said.
“I have more starters back on the offensive side than the defensive side, so it took a little while to mesh, but we’re definitely getting better, but the good thing is I only have one senior, (Cade) Miller, so I’ll have everybody back next year on offense and defense except for him,” Fage said. “We looked at the first game (against John Paul the Great Academy) and realized I had four new starters on defense, and we just made a lot of mistakes that we’ve cleared up the last couple of weeks.”
Stopping the veer with four new starters proved to be tough, he said.
“We beat them (JPG) twice last year, so we felt good going into it, but just trying to stop the veer with four new starters on defense was just a tough task for us,” Fage said. “Those kids have gotten better. We’re hoping for a different outcome if we meet them again. They’ve definitely got a great offensive juggernaut there.”
The veer’s inside/outside run scheme provides a challenge for all teams, he said.
“We didn’t do a good job of stopping inside, and they never stopped running inside,” Fage said. “We made some adjustments at halftime and we only gave up 8 points in the second half, and that was actually in the last minute of the game. I really like the adjustments my staff and I made at halftime. We gave up 40 points but only 8 points in the second half.”
The Lions face a rough stretch over the next few games, but the team played its first five on the road so the players are looking for some home games.
“We’ve been some road dogs for sure, but to come out of it 4-1, hey, you know, that’s great,” Fage said. “We’re hoping to just trying to make the playoffs and get as far as you can, God willing.”
Last year saw the Lions host their first playoff game in school history and reached the semifinals, so he felt good about it. Injuries in the semifinals were too much to overcome.
“This year I feel confident that hopefully we can get the job done and maybe go another step farther, and who knows, even get to the state championship game,” Fage said. “I just feel you have to have the ball fall your way. Last year it didn’t. But I do think we have all the tools to get there, it just kind of depends on where we fall in the bracket and who we have in upcoming rounds. We’re just going to take it one round at a time and just try to get as far as we can.”
After falling to JPG, ACS beat Mount Olive, Southwest Louisiana Homeschool, Northeast Baptist School and CHSAA.
In addition to the hot start, Acadiana Christian has won 38 of its last 51 games, he said.
“We’ve been doing really well,” Fage said. “I’m excited about where the program’s heading and where it’s come from on Day 1. I thank God for that and just give Him glory for that. I think this team can be special. We’ll just wait and see.”
ACS plays its games on New Iberia Senior High’s all-weather field, which has been a boon for the team and its supporters.
“It’s been electric,” Fage said. “We’ve had a much bigger crowd, we’ve had a much better crowd. I was so excited last year, we had people showing up to just come watch, to support us, because they heard we were doing well, who don’t even come to the school (or send their kids to the school).
“Last year we had our first homecoming for football, and that was a special night. We’re going to do it again this year on the 23rd against (three-time defending state champion) Birchman’s, which is going to be a tough task. In saying that, we’ll just line up and play. That’s all we can do. They have a 35 or 36 game winning streak.”
The Lions’ next game is against JPG, which is 5-0, this coming Saturday night.
“That ought to be a big one, so we’ll see what happens,” Fage said. “We’ve just got to get ready for the veer and just do the best we can with it.”