By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports
Three months before the season is not the best time to change head coaches.
But it sounds like Captain Shreve hasn’t missed a beat.
When Bryant Sepulvado left the sidelines in July, after seven years leading the Gators, to become the school’s assistant principal, Adam Kirby was named interim head coach. Kirby was Shreve’s offensive coordinator in 2021. Last month, the “interim” tag was removed.
“(The players) know me,” Kirby said. “They know my expectations. I ran the weightroom last year. I was assistant head coach. When Bryant was away, I ran practice. They know me. They know my personality. And, we didn’t have any staff turnover.”
Which means the Gators are in position to pick up where they left off.
“We’re looking to build on what we did last year with a 10-win (10-2) season and a number one (power points) ranking. But (the players) want to go further in the playoffs. This team is really hungry to put Shreve on the map statewide. We want to be one of the top 5A programs in the state.”
The Gators return several skill players — including quarterback Kenyon Terrell — from a squad which was upset in the second round of the playoffs. The senior is Shreve’s seventh all-time leading passer, after throwing for 2,072 yards and 21 touchdowns last year.
“Kenyon’s phenomenal,” Kirby said. “He is the best quarterback in North Louisiana by far, in my opinion. His football IQ is through the roof. He’s a competitor. He loves the game. He’s very quick with his feet. He can make reads in a split second.”
Terrell’s main target will be Marquez Stevenson, a Texas Tech commit and state champion sprinter who is one of the fastest high school athletes in the state.
But the Gators won’t be one-dimensional. Running back Jayden Edwards returns for his senior season, after rushing for 484 yards and 3 TD’s.
“It’s going to take more than one guy to bring him down,” Kirby said. “He runs the ball hard, and is really, really good in pass protection.”
Defensively, Kirby will allow his coaches — a group he calls the best in the state — to take care of the game plan.
“I told our defensive staff if he’s putting that much trust in us, we’re going to step up for him,” said seventh-year defensive coordinator Chip Kendall. “We’re going to do whatever we have to do to be successful on that side of the ball.”
You can’t label this year’s defense as either experienced or young.
“We are kind of mixed this year,” Kendall said. “We are very experienced in certain spots, and not so much in others. (Defensive ends) Bryce Lopez, Aaron Holley, and Terrance Green (all seniors) bring a lot of experience. The interior of the D-line got a little playing time last year, but they’re going to get thrown to the wolves this year.”
In the back end, there will be some familiar names, and some newcomers.
“We bring back both safeties, Tre Fuller (So.) and Jake McGee (Sr.), which is good, because they make the calls in the secondary,” Kendall said. “But our corners will be new. So, it’s a good mix of experience and new.” Fuller started as a freshman before getting hurt. McGee also started several games.
On special teams, John Chance (Sr.) will be busy. He is expected to handle all of the Gators’ kicking duties.
Captain Shreve starts its season Sept. 1, at home, against Loyola College Prep.
Contact Tony at SBJTonyT@gmail.com
Photo by JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports