Two of Tangipahoa Parish’s most successful football programs square off against each other tonight in the Kentwood Kangaroos and the Amite Warriors. The Kangaroos and Warriors have combined for an incredible 15 state championships. Both head coaches in Kentwood’s Jonathan Foster and Amite’s Zephaniah Powell have two state titles a piece, and both think that they will add some more hardware to the mantle by season’s end.
“Amite is a great football team. They are the defending 2A state champions. They got a lot of kids, a lot of size, and they still have a lot of speed. It’s going to be a dogfight. It’s a rivalry and football weather is here. We couldn’t ask for anything more and our kids will have to continue to rise up coming off that big win last week. They want to knock Kentwood off and we want to knock Amite off. It is going to be a good game.”Kentwood Head Coach Jonathan Foster on Amite
“You are looking at two of Tangipahoa Parish’s historically top tier football programs. Kentwood is a very experienced squad. The majority of this team is sophomores and juniors. It seems like his kids have been playing three or four years, but you are starting to see the fruition of them playing so early as freshmen the last couple of years. He has a very good team as I expect that to be the team that plays in the Superdome in December and actually going to the Superdome and winning that championship. From a complete standpoint, they are there offensively, defensively, and special teams. They are clicking.”Amite Head Coach Zephaniah Powell on Kentwood
The Kentwood Kangaroos are clicking right now jumping out to a 4-0 start to their season. In the Kangaroos’ non-district schedule, they have defeated Loranger, Jewel Sumner, East Feliciana, and Class 5A Walker High School. Up to this part of the season, the Kangaroos have looked very strong in all three phases of the game as Coach Powell mentioned. For Coach Foster and the Kangaroos, it seems that everything is coming together for this veteran football team.
“When you watch the film, we see progress every week. The kids are not making any mental mistakes, no pre-snap penalties. Our conditioning is getting better. The kids are cramping less and less. Anytime that you have a good football team, you just want to see progression. We’ve been seeing that as coaches every week. If we can continue to do that, we will see some good things.”Kentwood Head Coach Jonathan Foster on team’s 4-0 start
Meanwhile, the Amite Warriors are coming in with a target on their backs as they are trying to defend their state championship crown from last season. There have been some hiccups along the way and some adversity for both the coaches and the football team, but as tough as Amite is, they have bounced back winning three straight games setting themselves up for one of their biggest tests of the season.
“We’re there. We are still putting pieces together. Our biggest thing is up front right now because we had to replace pretty much every starter that we had on the offensive line. I think our kids are starting to jell a good bit.”
“What a lot of people don’t know is this is actually my second week coaching these kids. I had a medical situation in which I had a mild stroke and had to get a pacemaker installed. From our scrimmage week to week three, I wasn’t there with my guys, but I want to give kudos to my coaching staff and our interim Courtney Whigham, who did a great job of keeping these kids together.”
“It’s football. Hammond High seized the momentum and they are off to a good start. Coach Buckels is doing a great job with these kids. Once we got that out of the way, we went back to work. The second game of the season, we played against Loranger and took care of business there. We played St. Helena the following week and took care of business there. Then, we went to New Orleans in which we seemed like it was 100 degree weather and took care of Country Day too. Our kids are resilient. We have a good group of seniors that is leading the way and we are excited about tonight.”Amite Head Coach Zephaniah Powell on team’s start to the season
It is a big opportunity for both teams to pick up on momentum even more in a big time matchup. When playing in a game like this that features two talented teams that are well coached, it is the small things that will make the difference.
“The biggest thing offensively is limiting penalties. The second thing is that we can’t turn the football over. They thrive off momentum whether it is a fumble, an interception, etc. If we can do those things offensively, I think that we will be okay. The key for us defensively is attacking in space because they will get their athletes in space. It is going to happen. If we can tackle in space, I think that we will be okay.”Amite Head Coach Zephaniah Powell on key to victory tonight
“I think both teams are evenly matched. Both teams have a lot of speed and we both run the spread. Whoever wins the turnover battle eight times out of ten is going to win the game. That’s our focus, which is to win the turnover battle, limit our mistakes and finishing drives. If we finish every drive with a kick, we will be okay.”Kentwood head coach Jonathan Foster on key to victory tonight
As always, both the Kentwood Kangaroos and the Amite Warriors have a lot of talent. Here are some of the top key players for both teams to keep an eye on for this matchup.
Key Kentwood Players To Watch:
QB Germarcus Wilson (Class of 2024):
“Germarcus Wilson is our first year quarterback. He has done a wonderful job for us. People don’t realize that the first four games of our pre-district schedule has been rough. He has stepped up and has gotten better.”Kentwood Head Coach Jonathan Foster
WR Ke’vante Carter (Class of 2024):
“Ke’vante Carter has been lightning in a bottle for us. This is what we expected of him. Every time he touches the football, he is a threat to score.”Kentwood Head Coach Jonathan Foster
WR Jermichael Carter (Class of 2023):
“Jermichael Carter is a senior for us and he has stepped up big time for us. He caught the touchdown and a two point conversion for us last weekend.”Kentwood Head Coach Jonathan Foster
Kentwood Offensive Line:
“Those guys have done a great job. I must say those kids names with Jayvelon Smith at left tackle, PJ Wilson at left guard, Israel Norman at center, Chris Gordon at right guard, and James McKnight at right tackle. Our offensive line has really stepped up this year.”Kentwood Head Coach Jonathan Foster
DE Lamikal Callahan (Class of 2025):
“Lamikal Callahan is trying to become one of the best players to ever come through Kentwood. That’s a lofty goal, but he is on his way.”Kentwood Head Coach Jonathan Foster
Key Amite Players To Watch:
QB Jalen Robinson (Class of 2023):
“Jalen is a returning starter for us. He helped us as a quarterback when winning the state championship last year. To have him back this year means a lot. He knows everything offensively and to have that trigger man back is very important.”Amite Head Coach Zephaniah Powell
C Ashlon Matthews (Class of 2023):
“We pretty much play Ashlon anywhere that we need him to play upfront. He does a great job for us at center and at guard.”Amite Head Coach Zephaniah Powell
WR Ashton Terrell (Class of 2023):
“Ashton Terrell is dynamic and reminds me of a kid that we had a couple of years ago in Cameron Henderson. He actually may be even a bit faster, but once he gets the ball in his hands, he is electric.”Amite Head Coach Zephaniah Powell
WR Lemar Harris (Class of 2023):
“Lemar is going to be our next big Power Five kid. We’ve taken visits to LSU, Auburn, Mississippi State, and there are some other SEC schools that he is planning on visiting this fall.”Amite Head Coach Zephaniah Powell
DE Jalen Vernon and DT Jeremy Robertson (Class of 2023)
“Both guys have been starters for us since their tenth grade year. Talk about experience. They were both semifinalists as tenth graders, state champions as juniors, and so having those guys for us is very important for us on the front lines.”Amite Head Coach Zephaniah Powell
OLB Christian Smith (Class of 2024)
“Christian Smith is actually DeVonta Smith’s brother. He actually started last year for us playing linebacker. Having him back is critical because we have six guys that can all play and having Christian back leading that group is very important for us.”Amite Head Coach Zephaniah Powell
CB Simeon Powell (Class of 2023):
“Simeon Powell is actually my son. He’s a basketball kid, but he is definitely enjoying playing football. He’s done a great job of taking his guy one on one and a lot of times has to trail the opposing team’s best receiver. He’s doing a great job.”Amite Head Coach Zephaniah Powell
S Derrick Thomas (Class of 2024):
“Derrick Thomas has gotten an interception in every game that we played, and he also has two pick sixes on the year. He’s off to a fast start.”Amite Head Coach Zephaniah Powell
The Kentwood Kangaroos will make the short travel to play at Amite tonight. To keep up with everything, make sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. After the game, I will recap this big time matchup featuring two of the area’s winningest football programs.