West Ouachita Chiefs
By Lee Brecheen
Head Coach: Mike Rainwater(3rd year)
2022 Record: 6-5
Class & District: Class 5A & District 2
2022 Playoffs: 1st Round
“We made the playoffs in 2022 and we look to go past the 1st round in 2023,” said West Ouachita head coach Mike Rainwater. “We had big District wins in 2022 over Pineville and Alexandria in the same season for the first time in school history. However, we lost 14 seniors from the 2022 team to graduation. It won’t be easy, especially with having to compete in the toughest district in the state in Class 5A-District 2.”
The Offense will return starting QB Sam Ozark (6-2, 215) who is a big-rime leader to lead this program to another good year. One of the best-kept secrets in North Louisiana RB Antonio “Cadillac” Ford returns after rushing for nearly 1,500 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2022 very impressive feat in this District. Ford is not the only experienced player back for the Offense, you also have returning starter WR Brayden Owens (6-8, 225) a tall gifted WR for the program, and you have TE Cayden Tolbird (6-2, 230). One of the best offensive lines in the district returns in Garret Varnell (6-6, 290) for his senior year. Other key offensive players to keep an eye on are FB MJ Owens (5-9, 220), WR Xzavion Jackson (6-2, 180), OG Hayden Thrasher (5-10, 230), Center Caiden Waffer (5-10, 240), OG Bo Harrison (6-1, 225) and OT Aaron Carlson (6-2, 250).
The Defense returns 6 starters in 2023.3 players returning made 2nd Team All-District on Defense in 2022, DT Cooper Talley (6-1, 265), LB Luke Jones (6-0, 200), and CB Corey Toston (5-11, 178). More key players back on Defense are DT David Jo Neatherly (5-8, 270), DE Caden Simpson (5-9, 175), two-way starter LB Cayden Tolbird, LB Cam Martin, DB Gavin Yeager (5-11, 165), FS Seth Dowdy (5-11, 178) and CB Kevin Harper (5-11, 170).
Special Teams will be strong led by kicker Will Hillman (5-11, 170, Sr.) and punter Luke Jones also the team’s starting Linebacker.
Coach Rainwater went to college at ULM. Coach Rainwater sold insurance before going into coaching in 1999. Coach Rainwater and his staff do a great job with the Chiefs and it’s exciting to see how far they can go in the next 3 to 5 years as a football program. Coach Rainwater coached a few years at Ouachita High School back in the day as the wide receivers coach where he mentored several players that went on to play college ball.
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