A Veteran Group Looks to Put Denham Springs at the Top of Their District
by Cameron Cerniglia
Led by second year Head Coach Bill Conides, the Denham Springs Yellow Jackets have high expectations going into the 2018 season. Coach Conides has many veteran players returning on both sides of the ball. The offense is led by WR DJ Williams, WR Brycen Longley, ATH Kaleb Drummer, and OL Jake Evans anchoring the offensive line. Each of these guys are expected to be major contributors on the offense this upcoming season.
“The offense is firing on all cylinders,” Williams said. “Coach Conides is putting us in a position to be successful and all of us are trusting the process.”
Williams is going into his senior year at Denham Springs. The Northwestern State University commit is expected to have a big season and leave a mark as a Yellow Jacket.
Louisiana Football Magazine’s recruiting specialist Lee Brecheen believes this kid can be great.
“DJ is one of those kids that looks the part and has shown flashes of his ability,” Brecheen said. “He is legit in size at 6-3, 197 pounds and can be as good as he wants to be.”
Most receivers want to focus on just catching the ball and route running, but not Williams. He believes one of his strengths as a receiver is blocking.
“I put blocking before everything else,” Williams said. “Good perimeter blocking opens the offense up for more passes.”
Williams is not the only talented receiver on the roster. Bryce Longley is also an extremely talented receiver for this team. Like Williams, Longley speaks highly of the way Coach Conides has them prepared.
“I feel if we play together and do our job that we’ve been coached to do, we can be at least a late round playoff team,” Longley said.
Brecheen believes Longley has the measurables and still has room to grow.
“Longley has put on a lot of good weight in 2018 to become a big, strong wide receiver for this team,” Brecheen said. “He has the frame to be 230-240 pounds in college and has good hands and runs well to match.”
The last big time skill guy on the team is Kaleb Drummer. Drummer is probably the fastest player on the team. He is not highly recruited at this point but a big senior season can for sure change that.
“I’m pretty quick on my feet,” Drummer said. “All I need is the ball in my hands and I can score.” That mentality should lead to breakout senior season.
“Kaleb is a sleeper at the D-II or 1AA level but a great senior season could move him up even more,” he said.
In order for the quarterback to be able to get the ball to these talented receivers, there needs to be a strong offensive line and that is where Jake Evans comes in. The wide receiving core has gotten much talk this offseason, but Evans believes the running game will be great as well.
“We expect to get five yards a carry,” Evans said. “We will leave the field with everything we have left out there.”
Brecheen believes Evans is also a sleeper at the I-AA level.
“Evans plays with moxy and I like that a lot,” Brecheen said. “I think he will be a center or offensive guard at the next level.”
If the offense is not able to get the ball in the end zone, kicker Jose Ortega will be there to get the team on the board. With the size of a linebacker, Ortega has won games for the Yellow Jackets before as time has expired.
“In 2017, he kicked a game winning field goal of 34 yards to win a game,” Brecheen said. That game was week three against Fountainebleau. “He is for sure a D-I sleeper at the kicker position.”
We know the offense will be great, but the defense is not far behind. Senior cornerback Caleb Young is the leader of the defense. Young is a late bloomer but a breakout year could catch the attention of some colleges.
“Young has great hips and a long frame,” Brecheen said. “He showed some of his 4.6 40 speed in 2017.”
To go along with Young the defense has transfer Davion Nassri to hold down the linebacker group.
Brecheen talks highly of Nassri when asked about him.
“He has gifted speed with a 4.5 40 and will get a chance to show off his upside and ability for the first time at Denham Springs.”
As a Southeastern Louisiana University commit, Nassri could see the major impact that Coach Conides has on the team as soon as he got to the program.
“He wants to do everything to help our team win and his priority is his players,” Nassri said. “He loves his players and we love him.”
Mixed with the talent this team has on both sides of the ball, the relationship forged between the coaching staff and the players can bring this team far.
Cameron is from Baton Rouge, LA. He graduated from Woodlawn High School in 2014. Cameron is now attending LSU where he is seeking a degree in Sport Administration with a concentration in commerce. Cameron joined the Louisiana Football Magazine staff in the summer of 2018 for his school internship. During the his days off, Cameron enjoys spending time with family and friends. Outside of being a football fan, Cameron also enjoys watching baseball and playing music.
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