Spring Tour 2023: Madison Prep

My next stop on the Gridiron Football Spring Tour is Madison Prep Academy. A week after 15 of their players made the drive up to Rayville High School, I decided to stop by and check out the Chargers’ spring practice while catching up with their head coach Landry Williams.

“Obviously, there is a lot of great competition here at Madison Prep. The guys are working really hard. We are doing a great job of coaching the guys up and understanding that it starts in the weight room. We have been working out since January up to this point and we are down to our last 11 days before we play spring ball. It’s been challenging, but we have been working hard and being consistent is the main thing.”

“We got guys that are playing one position last year and are now playing two positions. There’s been some learning curves and there are some guys that have been up to the challenge. At the end of the day, we are going to do whatever is necessary to get the job done.”

Madison Prep Academy Head Coach Landry Williams

Located in Baton Rouge, the Chargers are one of the top football programs in the Red Stick. The Chargers have produced a lot of talent at the next level including players like Texas and New Orleans Saints defensive lineman Malcolm Roach as well as current college standouts including S Major Burns (LSU), DE Quency Wiggins (LSU), and QB Zeon Chriss (ULL) to name a few.

Also, under the leadership of Coach Williams, the Chargers have continued to be championship contenders after previous head coach Michael Roach helped guide the Chargers to a 40-12 record including a state championship runner-up finish in 2016. Williams has elevated the program even further as entering the 2023 season, he has posted a 52-22 overall record including a Class 3A State Championship victory back in 2020.

“The expectation here is championship atmosphere and championship effort in everything we do. That’s the standard here at Madison Prep.”

Madison Prep Academy Head Coach Landry Williams

Since the Chargers already know what it takes to win a championship, Coach Williams believes that the 2023 team has what it takes to compete for another state championship after losing in the Quarterfinals last season to eventual state champion St. Thomas More in the Division II (Select) Playoffs.

“This is a more mature group. There are numerous guys that have 3.8-4.2 GPAs. They really lock in and are film junkies. We put a lot of time in the game itself and it is not foreign to them. They can communicate in football language and we are able to do what we do.”

Madison Prep Academy Head Coach Landry Williams

Watching the spring practice, I got the chance to see a lot of great competition as the number one offense scrimmaged against the number one defense. It was a back-and-forth battle as a lot of times, the offense won its fair share of battles and vice versa.

Starting with the offense, the Chargers are building around their quarterback Tylan Johnson, who is entering his second season as a starter after throwing for 2,000 yards and over 20 touchdowns a season ago. The 1st Team All-District selection rose to the challenge after filling in the shoes of program great Zeon Chriss, and now, he is looking to emerge as one of the state’s best signal callers in 2023.

“Tylan Johnson came out last year and had a great year as a sophomore, threw for over 2,000 yards, rushed for another five touchdowns on the ground. He was amazing, got us to the quarterfinals, and of course, we lost to St. Thomas More that went on to win the state championship. Kudos to those guys, but that’s the level we are trying to get to.”

Madison Prep Academy Head Coach Landry Williams

Having a championship quality quarterback certainly is a first step, but on both lines of scrimmage, the Chargers will be in excellent shape, especially on the offensive line as 6’4, 320 pound 2nd Team All-District selection Henri’ Bell will lead the way for one of the state’s best starting five units up front after making the transition from tackle to center.

“Coming in as a freshman, he was big and was a little lethargic in the weight room. Now, it is totally different. He is a senior and he can play any position on the offensive line and is willing to do whatever it takes to be successful on the field and in the classroom.”

Madison Prep Academy Head Coach Landry Williams

On the defensive side of the football, the Chargers have to replace a really good defensive backfield, which includes two SWAC defensive back signees David Jones (Grambling) and Gridiron Football All-American Treylan James (Prairie View A&M) as well as another Gridiron Football All-American Markeis Batiste (Tufts University) at linebacker.. However, the Chargers got a lot of returning talent in the secondary led by Hezekiah Dantzler, who was a two-way star after having six touchdown catches as a receiver along with 33 tackles, three interceptions, six pass breakups, and a fumble recovery on defense as a 1st Team All-District selection. Dantzler also recently received an offer from Marshall.

“Hezekiah Dantzler is one of our best skill guys. He plays on both sides of the ball, has a 4.2 GPA. Whatever you ask him to do is done. It is never a question of why this, why that. It is always what you need me to do, Coach.”

Madison Prep Academy Head Coach Landry Williams

Both Bell and Dantzler have earned the right to play in the Gridiron Football All-American Bowl Game at the end of the year, but they are not the only players that standout on the football field.

I was also impressed with Tony Lewis, who is also a 1st Team All-District guy that will play both ways this season. After rushing for 728 yards and nine touchdowns last season, Lewis also excels on the defensive side of the football, especially coming off the edge and being physical as either a run stopper or a pass rusher.

Also, in the secondary, Zakarri Hogan had himself a great practice laying the wood with a big hit and showing his coverage skills on one on coverage.

Jonathan Profit got the quarterback a couple of times and looks like will be a force to be reckoned with on the edge at the defensive line after having 44 tackles, four sacks, and 14 TFLs a season ago. His counterpart Jordan Augillard will also be tough to block inside.

“On the defensive side of the football, it is the interior. Once the interior is set, we are going to have the skill guys to do what they do on the backend. Once we lock in the interior, teams will have a price to pay when they play us.”

Madison Prep Academy Head Coach Landry Williams

Keilan Sherman and Alfred McKnight got a lot of carries at the running back position and showed their ability to be patient while explosive when touching the football. It also helps when the Chargers’ big offensive line consisting of Bell, Robric Walker, and fullback Ethan Clark can open up holes and clear running lanes.

“Offensively, I want to be dominant up front. We have close to 300 pounds across the front and those guys are athletic, but also physical. We know that Tylan is going to do what he needs to do, but running the football is a must.”

Madison Prep Academy Head Coach Landry Williams

When the Chargers need a big play, they can look for guys like Dantzler and Calvin Spears, who tied for the fastest 40 at the Rayville camp with a 4.53 at 6’3, 195 pounds, to make a big play. Meanwhile, on special teams, Spears returns as the kicker while Bernard Kirk returns as an All-District punter.

Those are just some of the many names to keep an eye out for this fall, but with that being said, the Chargers have the talent as well as the mindset to make another championship run and it all starts with their spring game next week as Madison Prep will go to Pan American Stadium to play St. Augustine at 2:00 P.M.

“Guys, come out! Of course, there will be talent all over the field. There are going to be scouts there. This is a great opportunity for my young guys to get in there and see what they are made of. Everybody knows that we look for tough competition. We want to play the best and we want our guys to have the experience of watching guys that play on Saturday and Sunday and say that I went against that guy. If you can make it, come on out Saturday because it is going to be something to watch!”

Madison Prep Academy Head Coach Landry Williams

Here are all the photos from the spring practice!

Check out the video highlights below done by Nick Mautone!

Check out the rest of the Gridiron Football Spring Tour Destinations below!