Bossier focuses on playing through tough season

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(photo by Jere Grice) Bossier's Brandon Harris.

At the end of a recent practice, Bossier High’s 40 football players gathered around head coach Michael Concilio as they do after every practice.

Concilio went over the usual housekeeping stuff. He and his assistant coaches also called out a few players for some minor issues, including a couple who had to do some work after practice.

The atmosphere was generally light. There was a lot of laughter.

If you didn’t know it, you might think you were looking at a team that was undefeated instead of one that hasn’t won a game.

Make no mistake. It’s been a tough year for the Bearkats. Bossier fell to 0-7 with a 30-16 loss to BTW last Friday.

In fact, it’s been a tough two-year stretch at a school that won back-to-back District 1-3A titles in 2011 and 2012. Concilio will be the first to tell you that.

“I’m not going to lie, it’s tough,” he said “But I tell you what man, the work habits have not stopped. That’s not just the players. That’s the coaches, too. The whole program has not changed — any part of our working routine that we had in 2011, in 2012 or any time before that.

“I’m not trying to brag about our program, but we’ve stayed consistent with the work load. Same weekend time and preparation. The kids still come in on Saturday morning and still watch film. They did it all last year when we went 1-9. They still did it last Saturday.”

The Bearkats have had some injuries this season. They also have eight players going both ways. That makes it tough to compete against teams which only have one or two which is normally the case in Class 3A and higher.

With the run Bossier has had, things could have easily gone bad. Concilio said that hasn’t happened mainly because of the 10 seniors on the team.

They are Avery Jones (wingback/linebacker), Kelvin Brooks (split end/defensive back), Brandon Harris (running back/defensive back), Isaiah McKinsey (fullback/linebacker), Brandon Simpson (tight end/defensive line), Deon Venious (offensive and defensive lineman), Brandon Yonnes (offensive line/defensive end), Gabriel Green (defensive line/linebacker), Jessie Siordia (offensive line/linebacker) and Demarcus Craig (split end/defensive back).

“A lot of people may gauge their senior class on wins and losses,” Concilio said. “In the 15 years I’ve been coaching, this is one of the best senior groups as far as consistency. They never miss practice. I never have to get on to them hardly. It’s very small things. They stay together.

Like many of the seniors, Venious and Yonnes have been with the program since they walked on the campus as freshmen.

They admit the season has been tough, but that doesn’t mean that football is no longer fun.

“We’ve stuck it out and are holding strong,” Venious said. “I love the game. It’s always fun.”

Bossier has had a chance to win three games this season. They lost to Huntington 26-14 in Week 2 and Block 12-6 in Week 5. In the BTW game, the Bearkats were down only 16-8 midway through the third quarter when the game turned in the Lions’ favor.

But there have also been some blowouts where Bossier has been out of the games by halftime.

In those games, the players say they just kept playing and ignored the scoreboard.

“That’s what the coaches teach us,” Venious said. “Always keep your head up no matter what’s going on, no matter what’s on the scoreboard. At halftime you make it seem like it’s zero to zero.”

Said Yonnes: “We don’t stop, whether it’s halftime, second quarter, last quarter, we won’t stop. We keep going as hard as we can. We’re one of the smaller schools with a lot of heart.”

In Week 3, Bossier trailed Northwood 40-0 at halftime.

The Bearkats were crammed tightly together in a small locker room when Concilio gave his halftime speech.

“I told them, ‘This school has been around a long time,’ “ he said. “With that in mind you’re not going to disrespect the school by going out there and just laying down. You’re not going to humiliate yourselves, this program or your coaches. They adhere to that.”

Concilio said he has made it a point not to be critical of his players this season. He has also put into practice something that former Airline coach Mike Greene told him.  He and Greene, now the head coach at Fair Park, talk about once a week.

“You can’t just start getting really mad and take it out on what is there,” he said last week. “You’ve got to understand. Those guys decided to commit themselves. Here you are 0-6 and they’re still there.  You can’t criticize them for what’s going on.  That’s the approach I’m taking. I have not yelled at any kid. The only thing we address is hustle — effort, attitude and hustle.”

Because all three of those have been there in abundance this season, Concilio said, the record doesn’t matter. The season’s still been a success.