BATON ROUGE – Scotlandville High has lost only four games the last three seasons, and, including a trip to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in 2016 for the Division I championship game, it has made deep playoff runs.
For first-year coach Jules Sullen, maintaining that success is his primary goal and the main player who will help him do that is senior quarterback Cameron Armstead.
“As a head coach, when you go in with a quarterback that’s a returner, one that has played in the state championship game as a receiver, and then the next year to be the quarterback and put up the numbers that he did, you’re extremely elated,” said Sullen, who coached LaGrange for 10 years prior to this season.
In 2016, Armstead was a wide receiver when Levi Lewis, now a sophomore quarterback at UL-Lafayette, directed Scotlandville to the state championship game against Evangel. Armstead credits Lewis for playing an important role in his move to quarterback.
“Levi really paved the way,” Armstead said. “He gave me great advice about keeping my composure during the season. When it was my time he helped me. It gave me confidence, and I felt like I had his approval. I wanted to play like him, and, really, just do what he did.”
Armstead’s 2017 regular season had lots of highs, many against playoff bound teams, and few lows.
In the second week of the season against Madison Prep, he completed 13 of 21 passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns. Two weeks later, he went 15-for-19 for 213 yards and four scores in a 45-7 thrashing of Central. He followed that by going 22-for-37 for 203 yards and two scores in a 45-17 win at Walker.
The Hornets lost 29-8 to John Curtis in the Division I semifinals, but it wasn’t evident from reading Armstead’s statistics line. In a losing effort, he was 25 of 34 for 272 yards and a touchdown while also rushing 15 times for 122 yards.
Not surprisingly, Armstead says the Hornets are looking for him to do many of the same things this season.
“We’re just listening to what coach says, and doing what he wants us to do,” Armstead said. “He really didn’t change much.”
The lowest point for Armstead’s 2017 season came in Week 9, when Zachary defeated Scotlandville 39-6 before clinching the District 4-5A title a week later. The game, which was played in a rainstorm, featured Armstead completing just 1 of 8 passes, and throwing two interceptions.
“Last year we had a bad game (against Zachary), but this year we’re a whole different team,” Armstead said. “Nobody knows what we have. We’re just a young group trying to improve.”
The Scotlandville offensive line is young, but Armstead will have experienced receivers to throw to in seniors Jalen Womack and Jontrail Taylor. Junior Jeremiah Harris and sophomore Reggie King will also be targets.
“I’m very excited from an offensive standpoint,” Sullen said. “Cam is the leader of our program, and as he goes, we go. He does a dynamic job calling all of our blitz control routes, all of our checks, so it’s a big asset to have a guy like him.”
Sullen also has Armstead involved with younger players. Much like the assistance provided Armstead by Lewis, the Scotlandville program is being geared toward helping its younger players as they mature into upperclassmen.
“I can’t say I’m trying to change much,” Sullen said. “Winning has already been instilled in them. The only thing I’m trying to stress is putting more focus on the freshman and junior varsity programs.
“It’s cliché, but you hear teams say we’re not rebuilding, we’re reloading. In order to do that you have to put in work at lower levels.”
Armstead is ready to do his part, so the younger players will be ready when their time comes.
“We’re really focused on the young kids,” Armstead said. “We have to make sure they know everything. We have to make sure they’re working hard and buying in to what we’re doing.”