By JERRY BYRD JR., Journal Sports
New Airline High School football coach Justin Scogin and LSU’s Brian Kelly have some things in common going into their first seasons. For starters, Scogin is taking a 1-0 record into year one on Viking Drive. The Vikings completed their spring practice on Tuesday night with an intrasquad scrimmage, like Kelly’s LSU team did.
For Scogin, it was nice to get on the turf and under the lights with his players and coaches for the first time. And it was a win, any way you measure it.
“It felt great,” Scogin said. “One, to be in the unbelievable stadium, one of the few places around with turf. Just to have the players and coaches out there playing football. It was good all the way around. Spring was a huge success for us.”
That is not where the comparisons between Kelly and Scogin end. Both will have some decisions to make during the fall when it’s time to decide on a starting quarterback.
Juniors Ladarius Epps and Preston Doerner, and sophomore Ben Taylor, have all impressed the head man when it comes to learning Scogin’s offense, especially considering there were only nine spring practices.
“All three are really smart,” Scogin said. “All three are fun to be around. The quarterback position is wide open.”
But that is where the comparisons with LSU’s Kelly end, as far as Scogin is concerned.
“Bo did a really good job establishing the culture here,” Scogin said of former Airline head coach Bo Meeks, who had been in the position for 11 years. “I’d hate to be a college coach and have to go in and establish the culture. You have to deal with the transfer portal and NIL. It’s a disaster.”
After Meeks stepped away, Scogin was hired on Friday, March 25 by Airline principal Justin James. And while he wanted the job that he calls “one of the best situations in the state,” he took a wait-and-see approach after his interview.
“In my experience, you never apply for a job and feel like without a shadow of doubt that you’re the guy,” Scogin said. “I thought with the situation Airline has here that Les Miles or Ed Orgeron may apply. I thought I had a 50/50 shot to get it. During the process, I didn’t hear any names of other candidates. After I was hired, I heard some names that applied and know they would have been good choices. I just feel lucky to be the guy who was selected.”
The skill of the athletes, the number of athletes in the school, and the facilities are the three reasons Scogin believes the Airline job is among the best in Louisiana.
“I was at Parkway for several years,” Scogin said. “I know the kind of athletes they have here. They also have 2,000 kids in the school. There aren’t many high schools in Louisiana that can say that. Finally, their commitment to improving athletic facilities here has been second to none.”
During Scogins’ time at Parkway, he met some Airline assistant coaches, who he held in high regard. He correctly believed taking the Vikings’ helm would be a tuneup, not a rebuild, and he would not have to clean house with an entirely new staff.
Scogin received the job offer from James at 3 on a Friday afternoon. In the next hour, his first as the Vikings’ head man, he reached out to the middle school coaches at Cope and Greenacres.
“It was that important to me,” Scogin said. “I have sat down with them (since). I want to be visible. I want those kids to come to our games on Friday nights. I want them to grow up wanting to wear the navy and columbia blue.”
Scogin has brought in Zack Pourciau, who will serve as the defensive coordinator, and Logan Kreyenbuhl for his staff. Pourciau came from Pineville, where he served in the same position, and Kreyenbuhl came with Scogin from Leesville.
“(Pourciau) was good with taking lesser skilled guys at Pineville and making it tough for you to move the ball against them,” Scogin said. “He was a long shot for me to get. There were two that I wanted. Zack was 1A for me.
“(Kreyenbuhl) is a high energy guy and will assume the role that I had at Leesville,” Scogin said of Kreyenbuhl, who will coach wide receivers. “He brings a certain energy with him that will benefit our kids.”
With his first spring finished, Scogin and the Vikings turn their attention to summer, when they will play as much 7-on-7 as they can.
“I think it’s important to build that team chemistry,” Scogin said. “We are going to compete every day. Of course, we’re going to lift and get on the track and run. We’re just going to continue to move in the direction we want on both sides of the ball.”
The only drawback in the first month and half?
“That’s easy,” Scogin said. “Being here with my family being in Leesville. That’s been brutal…on me.”
The Scogin family will soon be reunited for summer, while the Airline family has found their man to lead the football program.
Photo by SETH STOWELL
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