The Booker T. Washington Lions Are Trending In The Right Direction In 2019
by Jace LeJeune
In Tony Reliford’s first year as Booker T. Washington High School Head Coach, he knew that it was going to be a big rebuilding job taking over a team that has gone 1-9 the previous year. Not to mention, the Lions play in a very tough Class 4A district and they had to replace four seniors from the season before that went on to sign scholarships to play football at the collegiate level. With all that in mind, Coach Reliford still had high expectations in his first season. As far as the wins are concerned, much was the same as in 2017 with the Lions finishing with a similar record of 1-9 in 2018. However, there was some progress as the Lions had a chance to win four more games this season. Those four defeats were all by eight points or less. Overall, Coach Reliford thought that this season could have been better.
“It was somewhat disappointing,” Reliford said. “I knew that we had some challenges ahead of us, but I really thought that we were better than our 1-9 record indicated. Figuring out how to win is a process. What I will say is that most of those games were close at a competitive level. There were plenty of games that we had the chance to win football games. That is a positive takeaway when we move on to next season.”
There were two athletic seniors that helped the Lions stay in a lot of games this season. Even with the lack of wins for this senior group, Coach Reliford believes that there are a couple of guys that deserve the chance of playing at the next level.
“First, there is Malik Patterson,” Reliford said. “Malik is not going to qualify academically, but I am sure he is going to play at the junior college level. There have been several people that have shown interests in him. He was an interesting story from the beginning as he has not played since he was a freshman. He is a great athlete and I think he will get the chance of playing at the next level. Then, there is Jacoby Dyer. He may also get the chance to play at the next level as well.”
Louisiana Football Magazine’s recruiting specialist Lee Brecheen has seen both of these guys play and agrees with Coach Reliford that they can play at the next level.
“Malik Patterson is definitely under the radar,” Brecheen said. “I’ve watched his film and he is a great athlete. He played receiver, strong safety, and many other positions. He is a big time player. Jacoby Dyer is a legit player too. Those two guys played the position because the team needed them to play there not so much what they are going to play for their college career. In Class 4A, this was a team that was undersized and low on depth. Those two guys Malik and Jacoby will play at their natural positions in college, but I have a lot of respect for those kids to play where their team needed them to play. College coaches should see that and it is really not that hard to figure out that these two kids can play at the DI level.”
For Patterson, whether it is playing quarterback, running back, receiver, safety, etc., or for Dyer, whether it is playing running back or outside linebacker, both players have given all they got on the football field. Now, Reliford will have to replace two seniors that were such a big reason on trying to turn the program around. Luckily, there are a couple of players according to Coach Reliford that could step up next season.
“Some guys that I saw made great strides last season and are looking to make a big impact this season are DT Jamarcus Jackson, who is going to be a three year starter next season at 6-1, 338 pounds, DT Dezione White, and LB L’Mykal Hicks,” Reliford said. “Those are the guys on the defensive side of the football. On the offensive side of the football, we will have a young sophomore that had seven touchdowns and averaged over 40 yards a catch. His name is Kentavious Jefferson. Also, our quarterback Anthony Jones Jr. is coming back as well. There are many guys that I could mention, but these are the main guys to mention right now.”
It looks like the longtime Booker T. Washington assistant coach, who has gone through the merge of both Fair Park High School and Booker T. Washington High School to create the current team, is building some depth as well as some optimism heading towards the off season. Having bigger numbers and more talent helps, but according to Coach Reliford, the most important thing in building a winning culture is effort.
“I think the biggest thing for the people that have watched our games is that our kids play hard the entire game,” Reliford said. “Here and there, there were some plays that proved to be the difference from winning a lot of those games, but they were right in them. Our seniors helped set the stage for the younger kids. We have a large junior and sophomore class so hopefully, these kids will learn from those mistakes that kept us from winning those games last season and use that experience to finish a lot of games this season that we were unable to finish last season.”
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