With 3 Division 1 signees led by Langston Galloway(St. Joseph's) (pictured right) Patrick Robinson(Northwestern State) and Kaleb Knight(Grambling State) the Crusaders of coach Carlo Maggio enter the 2009-10 season the highest rated team in Louisiana for 2009 at 77. Last season Christian Life under former coach Todd Foster, now the Baton Rouge Community College coach, lost in the state semi-finals to LSU-signee Matt Derenbecker and current LSU player Eddie Ludwig which ended a string of 3 straight 1A titles for the 'Saders. CLA has also revamped the roster with the addition of former University High star McCall Tomeny and former McKinley High starter Marlon Bell. They also return point guard Corey Self and 3-year starter Avery Prince. To start the season CLA will get heavily tested as they will be in a tournament in Shreveport on November 18th that features teams such as Riverside Academy, Richwood(last season's 3A State Champ) and Loyola, a top team in 4A the Bossier Bearkats. Those are just 5 of the 8 teams.
With that said let's move on Riverside Academy and Coach Timmy Byrd who have also been recognized as a nationally ranked team coming in at 96. The Rebels have truly came into their own. Last year, a team that didn't even make the 2A playoffs got really good, really fast. Reserve Christian, the tiny Class C school that has been a powerhouse in Louisiana since 1999 closed down. This move landed Coach Byrd and his Class C state champions at Riverside. With this move almost all of the players followed Byrd to Riverside to make the Rebels a highly unknown team to a nationally ranked squad with load of talent. That talent is lead by senior's Cedric Jenkins (pictured above), Kyle McClue, and Ed Gallina all of whom will sign in the late signing period with division 1 schools. The anchor of this group though is the most important, that would be 6'6" 225 lb. man-child Ricardo "Rico" Gathers (pictured right) Gathers, the nation's 9th rated prospect on Rivals.com's 2012 rankings will have a lot to do with the Rebels success. Last year, this RA team that was at Reserve Christian won their 5th straight state title. This year could also end the same way but they will get tested in 2A which is a lot tougher than class C but if any team can make the jump 3 classes and still win, it will be Riverside. They are well coached, talented, disciplined and deep. They will be able to play about 10 players consistently and not lose a beat. Other teams that got mentioned for the national rankings but got caught on the outside looking in are Glen Oaks HS, St. Augustine HS and Richwood. Do not be surprised if these teams make noise as well and get in the rankings at some point during the season.
Riverside Coach Timmy Byrd(below)
With this being said, congratulations to Christian Life and Riverside on your national rankings. Let's make Louisiana proud and represent that ranking well. Stay humble and do well. Good Luck on your season.