AMITE--Yes, we have just about made it through what it is called the dog days of summer. No, I’m not talking about the weather. I’m talking about the long period of time that fans down here in the Deep South have to endure without football.
This off season has been anything but "off" since the first of March. From last year when all we were doing was waiting for the pen and paper battle to conclude between the NFL and the NFLPA to this off season when more legal news has been on a weekly basis about our beloved Black and Gold. This has been a very unique and rather entertaining off season.
Which local team will be king of Tangipahoa Parish this season?
A year ago without question the two best teams were Ponchatoula and Amite.
The Green Wave edged Amite in a great battle early in the 2011 season and both went on to have great years.
The Green Wave team led by legendary Coach Hank Tierney landed a playoff spot in the Class 5A post season. The Wave did just enough in the regular season to garner one of the classes 32 seeds.
Matter of fact, the Green Wave barley got in the 29th seed. That was all the Green Wave needed to make their presence felt in the post-season as they would go on to pick up the biggest upset in the state last season in the playoffs.
The Green Wave went over to the outskirts of Baton Rouge to face the 4th-seeded Dutchtown Griffins and the state’s top player in Alabama’s Landon Collins. You think that impressed Ponchy? Not really!
Hank Tierney, who is one of the state's most successful coaches ever, guided his team to a huge win over Dutchtown, shocking the rest of the state. And right here in A-Town the Mighty Amite Warriors had perhaps the best defensive season ever in the school’s great history.
After a 9-1 regular season record that featured wins over 3rd-ranked Independence and 3rd-ranked Loranger, the Warriors' lone loss was to Class 5A Ponchatoula.
Even with an impressive record and one of the state’s best overall defensive units, many questioned whether or not Amite could hang with St. Charles.
The Comets were averaging over 45 points per game and they had no problem with all of their opponents with the exception of a narrow win over 3A power Parkview in the Class 3A semi-finals.
Amite ran through their first four foes in the Class 3A playoffs and then put on one of the greatest displays of defensive effort in the history of the LHSAA State Finals. When I say history, that’s not the Warrior in me coming out, people, that’s the truth. And the numbers show it!
In a hard-fought 9-8 loss Amite held St. Charles to less than 50-yards of total offense in the final two and a half quarters of the game. And the 9-8 contest was the third lowest total in 3A Finals history--and one of the lowest scoring finals in state history.
But that was 2011 and this is 2012. And now it once again looks that the starting point in Tangipahoa Parish will be with Ponchatoula and Amite. Two more teams will be very good in 2012 as well.
The upstart Loranger Wolves, who were 0-10 just a few seasons ago, are now one of the best teams in Class 3A.
And the powerful, seven-time state champion Kentwood Kangaroos are back as well.
When I say back, I mean Kentwood back! In other words Kentwood will have a Dome caliber team in 2012 and the Roos should be one of the favorites to win the Class 1A title this season--and possibly over the course of the next few seasons.
The Sumner Cowboys and Loranger Wolves both have players who are already committed to play for the LSU Tigers.
Amite has one player who is going to Arkansas, with several more being recruited by Division I schools.
And the rest of the parish will be solid with St. Thomas, Oak Forest, Independence and what has to be an improved Hammond High team.
So just three weeks left until the season begins with teams hitting the practice fields. And Tangipahoa Parish will once again be heard from around the state in 2012!