Tigers head into jamboree action progressing in transition to new look

That was then, this is now. No doubt Many High School’s football tradition is second to none in Louisiana over the past decade, but history doesn’t win this season’s games, and with a new coaching staff and new schemes on both sides of the ball, the 2023 Tigers are evolving.

Despite Jasper (Texas) High handling visiting Many in a scrimmage last Friday night, new Tigers coach Dillon Barrett is confident and proud of his players as the regular season approaches. The final competitive tune-up is Saturday night at 8 at West Monroe High School’s Don Shows Stadium when Many meets longtime Class A power Oak Grove in the Bayou Jamb.

Barrett understands some Many fans might be alarmed after last week’s scrimmage, but he’s seen his team on tape and in practice and is cool as a cucumber.

“We played a really good Texas high school football team in Jasper. It was our first time with a new coaching staff, a whole new scheme offensively and defensively against another opponent in a live environment, under the lights with a crowd,” he said. “It was a good judgement of where we’re at – are we on pace, or not? I think we are.

“There were things I would have liked to have seen done differently, but that’s why it’s called a scrimmage – it’s a time to work out all those kinks, get things fixed. I like where we’re at. At this point it’s about getting the little things corrected, and once we do that, we’re a good football team.

“We obviously want to win the game, and win every time out, but going into it, we were focusing on us, not Jasper. We worked on our stuff to see where we’re at,” he said. “From X’s and O’s, to personnel, to game operations, all those things, we got a chance to evaluate. We had 3-4 balls that should have been touchdowns that were dropped, but those guys are all inexperienced. We’re going from an offense that hardly ever threw it to what we’re doing, throwing it more. Those things will fix themselves as we progress into the season.”

Most importantly, he said, the players embraced the message Barrett delivered after the scrimmage and since.

“This was the time to get all the negative things out of the way, before the jamboree, and get all polished up going into Week 1. That’s when it counts. This is part of the process getting us ready.

“We’ve talked about adversity and how you’ll handle it. Just because you put the M on the side of your helmet doesn’t mean you’re entitled to win. You have to do the work, especially with the M on our helmets because we’re going to get everybody’s best game. I think our guys are in a good space as far as their mindset moving forward,” said Barrett.

The Tigers have gone through a huge transformation offensively. After years of a power running game with an erratic passing attack, Many is running the spread. It’s not an air-raid, pass-every-down system, and there is plenty of running in the mix, he said.

Defensively the change is significant but not sweeping. The Tigers have a base 4-2-5 scheme but can shift to 3-man and 5-man fronts.

“We want to keep some of what has been done in the past because it’s been so good “ Barrett explained.

The Tigers have no anxiety issues, and their new coach hopes fans can stay calm and confident, too.

“We hope our fans can understand a scrimmage is more about focusing on evaluating your team, not winning on a scoreboard, especially in this situation where there’s a new staff, new schemes and a lot of teaching going on. Yes, we didn’t like the outcome, but we made progress. There’s a lot of new things these players are learning, and we are happy with their effort and their approach.”

After sparring with Oak Grove’s Tigers, Many begins the regular season Sept. 1 at Sam Houston down the road in Moss Bluff, then welcomes DeRidder to John Curtis Stadium for the home opener Sept. 8.

To report an issue or typo with this article – CLICK HERE