GRAY — For two H.L. Bourgeois football players, the future is now.

Two of the Braves' key players this season will be freshman running back Demarcus Singleton and freshman defensive lineman Jameian Buxton.

Singleton (5-foot-8, 160-pounds) played middle school ball at Evergreen Junior High last year, and Buxton (6-2, 235 pounds) was a key player at West Thibodaux Middle School.

The two young players officially kicked of their freshmen seasons at H.L. Bourgeois on Monday.

H.L. Bourgeois head football coach Ryan Fournier said they have already made an impact in the Braves’ locker room.

Although he usually doesn't like starting freshmen players on varsity, he believes Singleton and Buxton are ready to play with the varsity early in their high school careers.

“Demarcus has come in and he’s automatically become one of our best offensive weapons,” Fournier said. “We haven’t seen Jameian in pads yet, but I know physically speaking, he’s very imposing. He’s a big kid. I’ve heard the legend of Jameian Buxton. I’m hoping that works out.”

“I think they both have a chance to help us this year at the varsity level,” Fournier added. “I think both will have really good careers here at H.L.”

Both Singleton and Buxton grew up playing recreation football and basketball together. They were members of the local-based Bayou Titans football organization (Buxton was just member of Bayou Titans travel team) and the “WeIt Ballers” AAU basketball team.

Now they are ready to play together as freshmen in high school. They will also join forces on HLB’s basketball team this school year.

“It feels good to be in high school,” Singleton said. “I’m just ready to get on the field and score some touchdowns and make H.L. a better team.”

Buxton, who goes by the nickname “Big Baby”, said he is grateful to have a chance to play varsity football as a freshman, especially with his childhood friend in Singleton, who goes by the nickname “Big Bully”.

“It’s a once-and-a-lifetime experience because not everybody get the opportunity to start as freshmen,” Buxton said. “Playing as freshmen, we have to ball out and show everybody that we could play against people bigger, stronger and older than us.”

Fournier said the Braves have a young and talented roster that will be special as they continue to grow together.

As they try to improve on a 2-8 record from last year, he expects many other underclassmen to get varsity playing time this season.

“It’s exciting because we add them to an already young core,” Fournier said. “A lot of our players we will depend on this year are juniors and sophomores. When you add a bunch of dynamic freshmen to that group, it definitely bodes well for what we have next year and the following year.”

Fournier said he believes Singleton is ready to carry the load as one of the Braves’ starting running backs this season.

“Demarcus has been an animal in the weight room all summer,” Fournier said. “He’s been in there working really hard. On the practice field, Demarcus has been one of our hardest working guys and that pays off. That’s why he has got himself in the position that he is in having a chance to start on the varsity level at such a young age because he has put the time and work in.

Fournier will inherit one of the rising young high school recruits in the state in Buxton, who has three major college football offers from the University of Miami, LSU and Virginia before the start of his freshman year. He got his first offer from Miami as an eighth-grader at West Thibodaux, and his offer from LSU came on June 21.

Fournier said it is a blessing to have a player like Buxton, who is expected to be one of the Braves’ top defenders at defensive end this year.

“He seems like a very good young man. I can’t wait to work with him,” Fournier said. “Our coaches are excited about having him, but it’s definitely an unique situation. During my time (as an assistant coach at) Destrehan, I don’t remember anyone pulling an offer as an eighth-grader and we had some very special football players walk through there. It’ll be an unique experience in these next few years. Because of him, some of the other players are going to have a chance to be recruited by colleges.”

Singleton said he got inspired after seeing Buxton get college offers at an early age.

“When he gets his offers, it’s going to make me want to work harder,” Singleton said. “I'm ready to get some offers. I just have to keep being in the weight room, keep working out and stay on my game.”

Buxton said he looks forward to working with Singleton and his other teammates to help put H.L. Bourgeois on the recruiting map.

“We’re going to come with it,” Buxton said. “He’s (Singleton) got a lot of pressure on him, but I know he could handle it. We know our senior year, there’s nothing that will be able to stop us. We’re going to work hard to get to the next level.”

After a preseason ranking list of Class 5A teams failed to include H.L. Bourgeois, the two young players and their teammates are ready to prove their doubters wrong and turn their program into one of the best in the state.

“We’re trying to change that,” Singleton said. “That makes us want to work harder. We’re trying to get up there where Terrebonne is at.”

Although they may be young, Buxton said the Braves are ready to show that age is just a number.

“We’ve been playing against people bigger than us our whole life,” Buxton said. “We’ve been beating people bigger and taller than us. They don’t even faze us. We’re just going to come ready.”