by Nicholas Humble
November 23, 2009 – After winning just one game over the previous two seasons, the JeaneretteSenior High School football team turned their season around this year by going 7-3 before losing their first playoff game in quite some time.
Head Coach Terry Washington
The turnaround can be attributed to two young men who strive to do their best on and off the football field. At 5’10” and weighing 165 pounds, Darion Hurst, a wide receiver, is a playmaker who has been there from the beginning. “Going to the playoffs, coming from a 0-10 season to a 1-9 season, and now to a 7-4 season, I feel that we met our standards by going to the playoffs. I feel that our football program at Jeanerette is turning around,” Hurst said.
Their running back, Anthony Williams, who stands 5’11” and weighs 195 pounds, always knew a positive experience would come from their two losing seasons. “When we were losing, I knew something good was going to come out of it,” Williams said.
To Hurst, football is more that just a game, and he enjoys every minute that he is on the football field. “It’s just a passion that I have,” Hurst said. “I can get on the field and relieve all my stress. It is something that I love to do.”
Although they lost their first playoff game under Head Coach Terry Washington, the experience they gained from the game was valuable. “We played for the district championship, and we lost, but I feel that we lost because we had never been in a situation like that,” Hurst said.
Coach Washington became the head coach at Jeanerette three years ago and has helped mold this team into a winner. “When I first came here, there were no expectations,” Washington said. “There were some seniors, but there were a bunch of young kids.”
Coach Washington wanted to take the youthfulness of the team and build something special. “I told the coaching staff that I’m going to build for the future. I’m going to take these kids like Anthony Williams and Darion Hurst and some of these young kids and groom them. In a couple of years we’re going to be OK,” Washington said. “I came in, played a bunch of young kids, took my loss and built for the future.”
Washington knew the team could improve, but first they had to get stronger. “The strongest kid I had at the time was bench pressing 225 pounds, maybe. We didn’t have a lot of strength, and we just got in the weight room,” Washington said. “This past season Anthony Williams bench pressed over 300 pounds, and we had six guys benching over 300 pounds. Darion Hurst was benching over 200 pounds.”
Wide Receiver Darion Hurst
Washington believed in his team, and, in return, needed them to believe in him to be successful. “The team believed in what we were doing. To be honest, we went into the season to go 5-5 or 6-4 hoping to make the playoffs, but at one time we were 7-1. It was a dream come true,” Washington said. “The kids played above the expectations.”
Coach Washington has had a huge impact on the team aspect for Hurst. “He brought a lot to the table and showed us how to handle adversity,” Hurst said. As for Williams, Coach Washington is more than just a coach. “He is a good coach; we really look at Coach Washington as a father,” Williams said. “He would do anything for us. He doesn’t tell us anything wrong; all you have to do is what he says, ‘Keep your grades up, don’t get in trouble, listen to your teacher.’ I look up to Coach Washington so much like he’s my own father.”
Washington could see something special in Williams, and half-way through Williams’ sophomore year, he was put in at running back. “Anthonstarted last year toward the middle of the season, and he ended the season with 500 yards in district play and was Second Team All-District as a sophomore,” Washington said. “I knew going into the season we expected Anthony to probably rush for 1,200 yards, maybe 1,300, but 1,800 yards later, the kids really put up some big numbers.” This season Williams rushed for 1,855 yards and scored 20 touchdowns on his way to being named the 6AA All-District MVP.
Washington has much praise for his running back and believes that Williams can do anything. “I told the coaching staff Anthony Williams is going to be as good of a running back as I have ever coached,” Washington said. “Anthony Williams eventually may be the best back I have ever coached.”
Although there was definitely talent from the younger kids on the team this year, Hurst was a great leader and star for this team. “Darion Hurst is not the biggest wide receiver, but this young man gets open, and when he gets the ball in his hands, you’re in trouble,” Washington said. “Whoever Darion signs with next year, they’re going to get a good football player. He is, no doubt in my mind, the best wide receiver I have ever coached.” Hurst finished this season with 44 receptions, 725 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns.
Next season will bring a new crop of seniors including Anthony Williams, who hopes he can be a leader like Darion and the seniors of this turnaround season. “I will never forget the seniors because they showed me a lot of things. Even though we went 0-10 and 1-9, we could make it,” Williams said. “This year people were downing us saying, ‘Jeanerette is not going to be good,’ and that encouraged us. The seniors this year were good captains.”
The team came together like a family because of the success.
Running back Anthony Williams
“We were like brothers. We had our ups and downs, but when one would fall, we would pick him back up and tell him, ‘come on.’ Each game, somebody would carry the team on his shoulders,” Hurst said.
Hurst knew that Coach Washington’s strategy would eventually work, and it would just take some time. “I knew it was going to take at least three good years for the program to be turned around,” Hurst said. “My sophomore year, we were 0-10, so I wrote it off like next year was going to get better. We won last year which ended the losing streak. This year, coming into the season, I just knew we were going to be great!”
Coach Washington felt a special bond with this particular football team. “Whenever we lost, we lost as a team,” Washington said. “It was more of a team atmosphere than it was the previous two years.”
Coach Washington believes the experience the team had this year will allow them to go even further next season. “We got into the playoffs this year, and I didn’t know what to expect,” Washington said. “It was something new, and the kids were tight, but now, since they have had experience, there is no doubt in my mind next season is going be different for us.”