What a season the Opelousas Fighting Tigers had in 2022 as the Tigers had an impressive nine game winning streak to close out the regular season. The 9-1 regular season record not only gave the Tigers a District 5-4A title, but it also gave them the number three seed in the LHSAA Division II Select Playoffs. The Tigers are looking to translate that regular season success in which the team outscored its opponents 367-105 during its nine-game winning streak to the postseason after losing a heartbreaker to Lakeshore in the second round of the playoffs by a final score of 35-34.
Under head coach Jimmy Zachery, the program has gotten better each and every year. Two seasons ago, the Tigers won six games including a playoff game and last year, Opelousas took the next step by winning the district championship. Entering his fourth season as the head coach, the next step in the natural progression for Zachery and his program is competing for state championships.
“I mean that is the message. We put a lot of hard work in and we dedicate our time, especially our coaches who spend time away from their families, to win a state championship. We want to win a state championship. We got it hung up in the locker room and in the weight room. Last year, we went 9-1 so the next goal is to go 10-0 and to win the state championship.”Opelousas Head Coach Jimmy Zachery
The confidence is not only there, but the talent is definitely there as Coach Zachery, who was a part of some talented championship teams as an assistant coach at Farmerville High School (Union Parish), has stated that this 2023 version of the Opelousas Tigers is near the top when it comes to the most talented group of kids that he has ever coached.
“This team is right up there with the Farmerville team that I was with the year we won state and at East Ascension, we were loaded and had a lot of good players there. There is really no excuse for us to go out there and get it.”Opelousas Head Coach Jimmy Zachery
At 5’11, 225 pounds, Ford is one of the top running backs in the state of Louisiana as a two-time 1st Team All-District selection. The bruising ball carrier with elite speed carried the Tigers’ ground game to over 1,300 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2022 and has received offers from LSU, Florida State, Miami, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Penn State, Auburn, and Texas A&M to name a few.
“D’Shaun is a workaholic. He comes in every day and just works hard, but what sets him apart from every other back is his speed and power. He is big at about 225 pounds and is still running a 4.5/40. He can take it the distance on any play.”Opelousas Head Coach Jimmy Zachery
While the offense goes through the talented D’Shaun Ford, the defense runs through its star linebacker Corey Amos, who has risen as a top ten player already in the state of Louisiana for the 2025 class as he has already received offers from the likes of Miami, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Penn State, which was his first offer back in January.
“Corey is really long at about 6’4 and rushes the passer. He’s got length and versatile. You can put him outside and he can drop back in coverage. He can rush the passer. I can put him at three tech. He can do everything so again, he is all about perfecting the craft and getting better.”Opelousas Head Coach Jimmy Zachery
It also helps to get the signal caller back as well with second team All-District quarterback Zackeus Malveaux returning as a veteran starter. After leading the Tigers to a very impressive 7v7 tournament championship at St. Edmund High School during the summer, Malveaux is keyed in to having a big junior season for the orange and black.
“I am honestly proud of the strides that he is making as far as the mature side of it and understanding the position. His freshman year, he didn’t understand the magnitude of his position, and we used to talk to him about those things. You are the general. The team goes as you go and he is stepping into that role. I am really looking forward to seeing what he does this year.”Opelousas Head Coach Jimmy Zachery
The Tigers have a good supporting cast of great players including All-District performers WR Korey Fontenot, LB Travis Esprit, CB Justin Washington, CB Landon Hammond, DL Jacobian Ardoin, and safety Collin Fontenot to name a few. Coach Zachery also likes a couple of other guys that he personally feels are in for big seasons.
“I think Kyran Moore, who came over and is a safety for us, is in for a big season. Izaiah Amos is going to have a big year. He is our other running back and of course, I have to put the trenches in there. They are going to have a big year on both sides.”Opelousas Head Coach Jimmy Zachery
“Those guys have been working hard all offseason, and we are all about working hard. Those are the guys that I wanted to bring because everybody can’t come and we have so many that we can bring, but these guys stood out this summer and they deserve this opportunity to have this opportunity.”Opelousas Head Coach Jimmy Zachery
Moten, fellow 1st Team All-District offensive lineman Joe Milton, and safety Collin Fontenot will also get the opportunity to represent the Tigers in the Gridiron Football All-American Bowl Game at the end of the year. Before those players can focus on that, Zachery, who is a former Opelousas player himself from 1997-2001, is striving to make more history for a proud football program.
“Our school has been rich in tradition and we’ve had some success in the 90’s winning, especially going undefeated in 1992. I think the farthest that we have been has been to the semifinals under Larry Dauterive. When I got into coaching, this has been my dream job as I eventually want to be the head coach at my school. I am responsible for the success we have so it means a lot and I tell my coaching staff that as they are all graduates of the school too in Coach Edwards, Coach Bush, Coach Oliver, Coach Ardoin, Coach Ambrose. All of us graduated from OHS. It means a little different because we have a different type of pride in the school, so we are going to put forth the extra effort.”
“I have been telling the kids that this is going to take a lot of unwavering discipline and focus to do that because now that you are winning games and people know that you are good, they are coming for you and going to bring their A game. In order to win the championship, it’s the ultimate goal for us. We are not going to put all this work in just to say that we want to win regular season games. You want to go and play for a championship because nobody has done that in the history of the school.”Opelousas Head Coach Jimmy Zachery
The coaches and players are also going to continue to try and win in the style that has driven them to this success so far.
“We have to control the ball. I want to be a physical football team, and that’s what we are going to do. We are going to run the ball. We are going to do some multiple things. We are going to throw the ball and on defense, we are going to attack, hit you, and going to get after you. That is the type of football that we want to play.”Opelousas Head Coach Jimmy Zachery
A former Opelousas Tigers has this experienced, talented team not only hungry, but confident to bring a championship back to the city of Opelousas for the first time and that combination could certainly mark the signs of a special season in the making this fall.
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