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East Ascension coach Darnell Lee


Gators at Spartans

Nov. 8, 2019 at 7 p.m.


With Darnell Lee

Head Football Coach

East Ascension High School

Sports Scene: Congratulations on another big win. They played you hard for the first half?

Coach Lee: They did. It was senior night and their seniors left it all on the field in the first half. We had some miscues but they capitalized on them. We are talking about 15, 16 and 17-year-olds. It is not like the Saints holding Drew Brees out for the playoffs. These guys come in with a totally different mindset. If you tell one that we are going to rest you this week but you should be good to go next week they think they don’t have to dress for practice and can sit around doing thumb exercises. We weren’t ready to go and they did what they were supposed to. I kind of woke them up at halftime and the second half went the way we felt it should have.

Sports Scene: One of the adjustments you made was bringing Cameron Jones back in?

Coach Lee: In fairness to the other two quarterbacks – Hobart Grayson fumbled the first snap from under center on the opening series – something we don’t do a whole lot of and we had a couple of interceptions by Cullen Wheat – he was hit on one of them and the other was an under thrown ball. The miscues that were self-inflicted McKinley capitalized on. That is a 5A football team. They may be having a down year but they believed on Senior night.

Sports Scene: Now you have that big rivalry. Talk about that from your perspective?

Coach Lee: I love it. When I played it, I loved it and coaching in it, I love it. My first couple of years we lost to the Gators. My third year we won on Burnside and we are back there again this year. Last year that crowd was almost similar to the crowds when I played back before Dutchtown was open. There was a second line going down Burnside. It was a packed house and there was a lot of excitement. It was an entertaining game. For some of these guys, this will be the only opportunity they have to play in a college-type environment. You will have more people at that game than the average Southeastern or Nicholls game. It is just how big the rivalry is.

Sports Scene: This year you are the favorite and St. Amant is playing for their possible playoff life?

Coach Lee: I expect what we see every year in this rivalry. Two teams where you can throw the records out. They will have a little bit more bulletin board material and reason to play with the playoffs being on the line but we are playing for something too. When you are talking about this rivalry I think everybody is going to bring their A game. Seeing St. Amant fight last week to have a chance to go to overtime said a lot about the character of that football team. I think that was indicative of the competition and parody we have here in Ascension Parish. Once you get into the playoffs, you can throw the records out. It is all about who shows up and who wants it the most. We are excited and our kids will be ready.