By Lee Brecheen
Head Coach: Jerrod Baugh (7th season)
2022 Record: 12-2 (District Champions, State Runner-Up)
Class & District: Class 5A (District 2)
2022 Playoffs: 1st round Bye, Defeated Ouachita Parish 37-16, Defeated Denham Springs 49-31 in Quarterfinals, Defeated Zachary 37-22 in Semifinals, Lost to Destrehan 17-10 in Division I (Non-Select) State Championship Game
Led by seventh-year head coach Jerrod Baugh, Ruston High School made the State title game for the first time since 1998 where they ended up losing to Destrehan. This program is not going anywhere anytime soon and they can go back and win the title this season. The staff at Ruston is one of the best in Louisiana. Former LSU and All-Pro defensive lineman Kyle Williams is on the staff you can tell he has his hands on the development with this defense very impressive.
Ruston High School is one of the best football programs in the state as the Bearcats have won eight state titles. They have three state runner-ups and one national championship. Baugh also coached in the past at Texas powerhouse programs Longview HS and Gladewater HS in Texas.
I also know the program has produced 1 NFL Hall of Fame DE/OLB Fred Dean, and 3 college All-Americans in Bert Jones (LSU), DT Kyle Williams (LSU) and LB Michael Brooks (LSU).
“We had a really good spring but will have a new quarter in 2023 and some new faces but we have a lot of good players back with a lot of experience,” Baugh said. “We return six starters on Defense & four on Offense so we have some rebuilding on Offense but overall we have a chance to be good again.”
The offense will have a new starting QB for the first time in inexperienced but talented senior QB Josh Brantley (6-3, 205). Brantley has the skill set to become a great player but he needs more game experience. However, he should be one of the best quarterbacks in the state by midseason.
The run game is always strong for Ruston HS. The Bearcats have the talent back in RB Jordan Hayes who has 4.45 speed and rushed for 1,104 yards with nine touchdowns. You also have RB Dylon Brooks (5-10, 205) who has both power and speed. FB Lander Smith brings power and comes back with 19 carries under his belt from the 2022 season.
The offensive line will be big again and athletic. The offensive line is young but talented with one starter back. Leading the young talented group will be senior Sam Nations (6-2, 293). Nations can play either the center or the guard position for the team. Also starting will be senior Cameron Venzant (5-8, 250), senior OL Kylon Bradley (5-11, 309), senior OL Demario Nash (6-1, 265) and senior Chamarion Williams (6-0, 280).
The passing game returns returning starter senior WR Logan Malone (5-8, 155) who had 23 catches for 320 yards and two touchdowns in 2022 and great hands. You also have talented WR Jamar Woods (5-9, 155, 4.58 speed) and Ahmad Hudson (6-5 190, 4.5 speed). One of the best tight ends in North Louisiana returns in senior Zhy Scott (6-2, 200) who has 4.7 speed and recorded 12 catches for 208 yards and 4 Touchdowns in 2022.
The defense returns six big-time leaders and starters. The defense is highlighted by senior DE/DT Ahmad Breaux (6-3, 250), who is currently committed to LSU. Breaux recorded 62 tackles along with six sacks in 2022. The defense also has senior Geordan Guidry (6-2, 240) who had 74 tackles & 7.5 sacks in 202 and DE Peyton Bell (5-10, 215) who had 33 tackles in 2022 and was one of the best linebackers in the state of Louisiana in LB Jadon Mayfield (6-0, 220). Mayfield had 119 tackles, eight tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and two interceptions with one pick-six. LB Zheric Hill had 117 tackles, 2.5 sacks, two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and 3 fumble recoveries.
There’s also senior DB Nate Johnson (5-10, 175, 4.57 forty) who recorded 89 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and six pass breakups. The rest of the defense also has DT Ka’Varion Key (5-11, 275), senior SS Ronald Findley (6-0, 170), FS Jacoryian Crowe (5-9, 170, 4.6 speed), senior cornerback Semaj Jones (5-9, 150, 4.53 speed) and CB Aiden Anding 4.5 speed. You also have a third cornerback in Darius Woods when a team goes 3-Wide.
The special teams unit will also be strong again as a unit for Ruston. Senior punter Will Fendley (6-2, 205) returns and he has a strong leg. Fendley is a sleeper. Ruston’s kicker will be Jack Elliot (5-9, 155). The long snapper will be senior Jow Morrow (5-10, 220) who is another talented player at this position for the Bearcats.
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