In 2010, West Saint Mary posted a 3-7 mark while toiling in a tough Class 3A district that included Patterson and E.D. White. The Wolfpack didn't back down from anybody, having made the five-hour trip from the Gulf Coast to Northeast Louisiana for a tilt against 4A juggernaut Bastrop in week five.
West Saint Mary lost that matchup to Bastrop by a lopsided 44-0 margin, but the experience toughened last year's junior-laden squad. Head coach Ryan Antoine -- in his debut at the helm -- enjoyed his share of bright spots, including a 63-point explosion vs. Berwick, a 31-0 romp against arch-rival Franklin and a near-upset of Kaplan in a 45-38 shootout.
The excitement about the upcoming season is palpable along the sugar cane fields that abut Bayou Teche, the swampy body of water that's located just across U.S. Highway 182 from the West Saint Mary Campus.
Coach Antoine and his energetic young staff bring back almost all of last year's marquee players, such as OL/DL Jerald Hawkins (LSU commit), athletes Jontrey Tillman (Stanford commit) and Daijuan Stewart (SMU commit), and defender (LB/DB) Robert Martin.
Furthermore, the Wolfpack move down to Class 2A, where competition should be a little less formidable across the board (although private school powers Evangel Christian, John Curtis, Calvary Baptist and Redemptorist loom in the postseason).
"Jerald will be the heart of our team," said Antoine. "He'll play both ways. We expect big things from him and expect him to make plays on big downs. Jerald's going to get a lot of attention, because everyone is aware of him.
"He's been busting his butt all summer and in fall camp, and we expect him to take it to a whole another level. Last year, he was first-team all-district, and we expect him to take it to another level.
"He'll play left offensive tackle and defensive tackle for us. On defense, he attacks the ball and attacks double teams. On offense, it's comforting for our quarterback to know a player of Jerald's caliber is protecting his blind side."
On offense, the Wolfpack is led by the duo of Tillman and Stewart.
"Jontrey was a 1,500-yard rusher for us and we're going to feed him," said Antoine. "He's bulked up to 180 pounds, so we will use him between the tackles more often. We sat him out of hoops last year so he could concentrate on football and get better production.
"Teams are going to key on him, but we fully expect Jontrey to take on the role and do more for us. He's great on special teams and Stanford is looking at him as a corner and an early special-teams contributor. In college, he'll get even better when he concentrates on one position, but at the 2A level, we don't have much depth and will ask him to do several things."
The same goes for Stewart.
"Coach A.J. Smith (WSM offensive coordinator) does a good job of utilizing Daijuan and Jontrey in the offense," said Antoine. "Coach Smith keeps it fun for them, too. You're not going to see Daijuan or Jontrey in just one spot. They're each going to play quarterback, running back and wide receiver.
"Daijuan is more of an athlete than Jontrey. SMU wants him to play wide receiver and - like with Jontrey - he'll get even better when he only works at one position on the next level."
Antoine says his fourth senior star - Robert Martin - is not receiving the proper amount of attention from colleges.
"Robert is just as good as Jontrey and Daijuan," said Antoine. "He competes with them and gives them fits in practice. He's a cornerback, but we're forced to play him at linebacker. Since he's out of position, Robert's not getting the notoriety that he should and I feel bad about it.
"He's a Division I player every day of the week. He ran a 4.4 at LSU's camp and a 4.4 at the National Underclassmen Combine. He can run with the best of them."
West Saint Mary, which will forgo a preseason scrimmage, will instead suit up against an opponent for the first time against Morgan City in jamboree action later this month.
"We're trying to take this community, school and football program to another level," said Antoine. "We're not getting much love from the media. As an underdog, we'll play with a chip on our shoulder. We're determined to get this school back to the playoffs for the first time since 2005."