In a year where Ouachita Christian returned many of its key playmakers from the state championship team of a year ago, the Eagles have found one of their most impactful players from an unlikely place.
Senior offensive lineman Gustave Guilloux came from France to visit family in the summer of 2011. His aunt is an OCS graduate, and she asked if he could hang out with some kids his own age. Guilloux liked his experience in Monroe so much that he asked his parents if he could enter the foreign exchange program and be a student at OCS this year. He arrived in the fall and has grown into one of the state's best offensive lineman in Class 1A.
"He has been a real pleasant surprise," OCS coach Steven Fitzhugh said. "The first day of practice, I told our coaches, 'just let him have fun, don't push him too hard. Let him enjoy his foreign exchange experience.'
"They came over to me after a little while and said 'Coach, this kid can play.' He is just a raw talent. The thing with him is he has great, natural explosion."
While Guilloux had played a few years of football in his hometown of Paris, it was quite the new experience when he arrived in Monroe through the foreign exchange program.
"In France, we have club football in Paris," Guilloux said. "Football is a lot bigger here, and the competition is harder, too. It is a great challenge, and I get a lot of good experience and have gotten stronger."
There was no weight training programs with the football clubs in France, so Guilloux learned a lot in his first few weeks with the Eagles.
"We have a great training program here. I have been able to get a lot stronger," Guilloux said. "The coaches have helped me to improve my technique a lot."
Fitzhugh has seen the 6-6, 285-pound lineman blossom throughout the year.
"He had never lifted any weights before coming here," Fitzhugh said. "He is a kid that has learned and gotten better each and every week. I am real proud of him. His first day here, he was very emotionally overwhelmed, just the realization that 'This is where I am going to be, away from my family for the next year,' I think that was a tough adjustment for him. Our team has just taken him in their arms and supported him. He has been a blessing to us."
Guilloux said playing in the Class 1A state championship game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome Friday will be one of the best experiences of his life.
"For a Frenchmen like me, to be able to play in a NFL stadium like that, is like wow!" Guilloux said. "It is a dream come true for me."
No. 1 OCS plays No. 2 Haynesville at 4 p.m. Friday in the first game of the 2012 LHSAA State Farm Prep Classic.