The Terrebonne Tigers had quite a run last year.
The Tigers finished with an 11-2 overall record and advanced to the Class 5A state quarterfinals for the first time since 1995.
Terrebonne’s memorable run ended with a 31-14 lost to District 7-5A rival Destrehan.
Since that loss, the Tigers have been working to make it back to that point and possibly go even farther this season.
"We just want to stay focused the whole season," senior defensive back Jakobe Carter said. "‘Unfinished business’ is our motto this year. We’re trying to go farther than we did last year. It’s going to take a lot of hard work and playing to the best of our ability. That’s going to help us succeed."
During the offseason, summer months and fall camp practices, Tigers head coach Gary Hill said the team has worked hard toward getting its unity and focus back on the same page.
"Last year’s team had a great season, but it’s a new season and this team hasn’t done anything yet," Hill said. "They have to go out and make their own name."
And the new leaders of the Tigers are ready to accept that challenge.
"We can’t live off of last season’s success," standout junior defensive lineman Maason Smith said. "We’ve got to build our own legacy and do something new. We’re just going to take it week-by-week and just play our hearts out. That’s all you really can do. Whatever happens will happen, but we just have to be able to shake back from it."
Like most top high school football programs, Terrebonne lost a successful senior class to graduation earlier this year. They said goodbye to some key leaders in last season’s success, especially at the running back, offensive line and linebacker positions.
Terrebonne senior quarterback Ja’Khi Douglas, a Florida State University commit, said the Tigers learned a lot from last year’s senior class.
"Those guys were great players and they contributed to the team really well," Douglas said. "We have to just start it back up where they finished."
"I think we’re going to shock some people," Smith added. "After all those great seniors left, we really have a lot to prove. It’s not going to be given. We’re going to have to be hungry to go get it for ourselves."
After losing a great senior class, Hill said he is confident the Tigers will be able to reload instead of rebuild. They will feature many returning pieces from last year, including Douglas, Smith, Carter, senior running back/defensive back Kwan Allen, senior defensive back D’Jon Scott and senior receiver Randall Hartman.
The Tigers also played many young players last season in guys such as sophomore defensive lineman Kaden Lewis and sophomore receiver Jaylin Lucas. Senior running back Jahon Johnson, who transferred from Ellender, will be a newcomer in backfield.
"We still have athletes walking around," Hill said. "We were young last year in a lot of aspects, so that group is now going to be experienced. Where we were experienced, we’re going to have some youth. That’s football every year."
Douglas said the Tigers are confident they will continue to put up a high-scoring offense this season.
"We lost a lot of players but we have some upcoming sophomores that are going to play a key role in this offense," Douglas said. "It’s going to help us spread the ball around. We have some great skill players."
Despite having skill players, Hill said they will have to rebuild their offensive line.
"Offensively we’ve got a lot of skill guys back," Hill said. "We’ve added a couple in from the younger classes. They should be very solid for us. We have to get that offensive line cleaned up. We lost four seniors there, so replacing four is always tough, but we’re progressing there. It’s just a slow process."
On defense, the Tigers will be led by their talented defensive line and secondary.
"The defensive line and backfield will come back pretty much intact," Hill said. "We’re priding ourselves right now with them. Our secondary with Kwan Allen, D’Jon Scott and Jakobe Carter is strong. Our front should be solid as well with Maason and Kaden. Our linebackers have a lot of talent. They just have to make sure they are able to do what they are supposed to do. Our defense should be pretty solid."
Scott said the Terrebonne 3-3-5 defensive scheme is ready to slow down opponents. The secondary wants to grab more than 20 interceptions this season.
"We think we are the best on the field at all times," Scott said. "We just have to keep working. We’re going to come out every possession, play our heart out and do what we’ve got to do to get our offense back on the field."
The Tigers have high expectations and expect to compete for a District 7-5A title and work to make it to the Class 5A state championship game in New Orleans for the first time since 1983.
"It’s going to be a big year. We’ve got a lot of unfinished business," Allen said. "You’re going to see a lot of physicality and a lot of teamwork. We have to push each other more. We have a better team. I just feel like this is going to be the year. We’re going to get to the Dome this year. I really think we can make it to the Dome this year. We’re going to have a lot of challenges but I think this is the year."
"I think we could go far. We just have to come out and play hard and take each game one at a time again and see where it goes," Douglas added. "We’re talking Superdome but it’s not there yet. We just have to keep working to get to the Superdome."