The first stop on the Gridiron Football Spring Tour this week is Denham Springs High School. The Yellow Jackets are coming off one of their best years in program history winning 10 games and making the Quarterfinals for the first time in close to 40 years.
“It is really exciting times. We graduated a big senior class that had a lot of experience. This spring, it has been a bit more fun. This offseason, you get to know these kids more than you already did. Now, you are going to see their opportunity of being thrusted into the fire. We are going to be inexperienced this year, but there is nothing wrong with that. I love the youth. I love the inexperience. This is our job as coaches to get them as comfortable as possible and because of that, we had to think different.”Denham Springs Head Coach Brett Beard
The Yellow Jackets are looking to take the next step and what better man for the job than a coach that has done a marvelous job in bringing programs to new heights and that is Brett Beard. Coach Beard has had plenty of success wherever he has been at including at Live Oak where he led the school to its first Quarterfinal berth. After sending different programs to the Quarterfinals, Beard is now focused on leading his program to even more success moving forward.
“We are looking to sustain growth. You have to be comfortable in handling success. You can’t let it stalemate you. We have to continue to grow from it, fight off from it, and learn from it. At a program like this, the foundation is built. They have already put the first floor on it and we will see if we can put on a second.”Denham Springs Head Coach Brett Beard
What will help the Yellow Jackets build another layer to the foundation is that the team has one of the best defensive backfields in the state led by reigning district defensive MVP and LSU commit Da’Shawn McBryde as well as one of the best cornerbacks in the state in 1st Team All-District selection Maison Vorise, who has been recently offered by Nicholls State, Alcorn State, and Mississippi State. Both defensive backs already have what it takes to play at the next level as both defensive standouts have been invited to play in the Gridiron Football All-American Bowl Game.
“The biggest thing is what two great young men to be a part of this program. They saw the growth all the way through. They have done it right and they have bought in every aspect of the process and because of it, you see their growth. You see the elevation of their play. To have those guys back really keeps us comfortable in the backend because we lost a lot more in the box. We will be in a good spot and we will be able to use them offensively to help us get that big play. When you have dudes like these that are special, you’ll get to enjoy them and we will enjoy them this year.”Denham Springs Head Coach Brett Beard
While having two of the state’s best defensive backs is a luxury, there is a lot of depth in the backend besides the two stars that makes this one of the most complete defensive backfields that one could find at the 5A level.
“Everybody focuses on the main two dbs, but we have two more that are really good as well and are perfect counterbalances to those two in Rancher Miller, who is the other safety, and Brian Hawkins is the other corner.”Denham Springs Head Coach Brett Beard
The Yellow Jackets will also return some experience at the quarterback position. Although Reese Mooney has graduated and will play his college football at Liberty, the offense will have another talented quarterback with starting experience this upcoming season in Jerry Horne and this time, it is his show to run.
“It’s his time now. He’s not in the shadows of Reese Mooney. He’s not learning under Reese Mooney anymore. He’s in a unique situation. He was thrusted onto the scene as a freshman when Reesee got injured and then, they battled back and forth last year. He split time with Reese and he was able to see just how tough it is to be a quarterback in this league and this state to be a big timer. It is his turn now and he has learned everything to be the guy fulltime.”Denham Springs Head Coach Brett Beard
A big reason for the Yellow Jackets’ success in 2022 was their strong senior class and even though they are replacing two offensive stars in Mooney and running back Ray McKneely (Memphis), there is still plenty of young talent that will contribute a lot this fall.
“Tylan Haynes is a receiver that gives us a big presence on the outside. We have RJ Johnson at running back. We lost a lot of those dudes in the backfield, but we are really excited about RJ Johnson. Brenton Paul and Hudson Byers will be in a great rotation in the backfield. Jaxon Martin is moving over to the offensive line after playing nose guard last year. He is a kid that comes over and really gives us some nastiness on the offensive line. Jaedon Buchanan is a kid that has stepped up, grown up, and waited his time. Because of that, it is exciting to watch these kids grow and now, it is their opportunity to shine.”Denham Springs Head Coach Brett Beard
Coach Beard wants to continue to see how his guys continue to grow and embrace competition heading out of spring football.
“The biggest thing is to continue playing Denham Springs football and do it our way for a physical 48 minutes. We want to be a physical football team that makes it tough to play against us. You can’t turn that on. It’s a mindset and it is just kicking into gear what we want to accomplish.”Denham Springs Head Coach Brett Beard
This Saturday, Denham Springs will get the opportunity to host their spring game as they will face off against familiar district opponent East Ascension.
“EA could be a potential team to win our district year in and year out. It’s a great top tier football program that gives us a great measuring stick of where we are at coming out of spring going into summer as we gear up for the season.”Denham Springs Head Coach Brett Beard
Check out our entire photo gallery from Denham Springs below!
Check out the rest of the Gridiron Football Spring Tour Destinations below!