The 2014 “Pel Hell” football camp marked the first time Port Allen held its pre-season marathon on home campus – and it was not the only difference from previous camps.
The trips to Lumberton, Miss., traditionally focused on bonding and unity, but the PAHS coaching staff took a different approach to this year’s event.
“Generally, we would focus on having everyone in the same place, attendance and all the other things that get the team ready for that two or three month journey, but we had a lot of that in place already,” coach Guy Blanchard said. “This year, we were able to focus on fundamentals, and getting the kids ready to go where we want them to go.”
The new approach yielded a more productive camp, said Blanchard, now in his 10th year at the helm of the program.
“The kids worked really hard, so we’re very happy about where we’re at,” he said.
Aside from strong character and attitude, the returning roster does not hurt, either.
The Pels will return 11 starters on offense and seven on defense.
“We have a lot of kids who know what’s expected, and they’re willing to do what it takes to win,” Blanchard said.
Conditions for the camp also helped. Aside from the typical daytime highs in the upper 90s, players worked out in temperatures 10 degrees below normal most of the week.
“It helps, but even if it was hot, it doesn’t matter … it is what it is,” Blanchard said. “You have to adjust to the environment and be ready to play now matter what.”
Special teams and the defensive line will need the most work as the Pelicans head into the start of the season Aug. 29 against Albany in the Placid Refinery Jamboree.
“Those areas of concern for us,” Blanchard said. “The players are doing a solid job, but there’s not a lot of depth there.”
Standouts at the camp included senior defensive back Marcus Keys, a commitment to University of Louisiana-Lafayette, as well as sophomore running back/corner back Jarius Robertson, senior wide receiver Telson Allen.
Returning quarterback Alex Hebert also made big strides during the off-season.
“Telson has really matured and become a good leader, along with Alex, who is really get a grip and understanding the things he has to do,” Blanchard said.
Port Allen opens its regular season Sept. 5 at Avoylles.
FOOTBALL 101 – PAHS coaches will discuss football, academics and other issues during the “Mother’s Tea”, open to parents of football players, on Saturday, Aug. 16 at 9 a.m.
A free breakfast will be served at the event.