Bulldogs turn focus to St. Edmund
IOTA – It wasn’t the start of the season Neal Legé and the Iota Bulldogs were looking for, but now the team can only move forward and focus on its task this week, the St. Edmund Blue Jays.
“That was ugly,” said Legé. “We felt like we did a lot of bad things that took a win away from us.
“We’ve just got to get better overall.”
The Blue Jays also enter week two on a somber note, after their 41-19 week one loss to the Rayne Wolves, meaning both teams will enter the contest itching to stop the early season skid before it starts.
“We have two teams facing each other that pretty much had the same week one,” said Legé.
St. Edmund graduated 11 seniors last year, so it is not much wonder why it is taking the Blue Jays some time to find their stride this season. But what they are really force to do is replace a quarterback that ran and threw for 1,000 yards last season—Scott LaFleur—and its speedy receiver—Adam Clause. LaFleur had 190 carries, 1,680 yards and 31 touchdowns on the ground and was 97-188 with 1,521 yards and 19 touchdowns in the air. Ten of those passing touchdowns were caught by Clause. The duo locked up 42 times for 708 yards.
It will take time, but St. Edmund, who is coming off back-to-back 9-3 seasons, looks to its underclassmen, which picked up valuable playing time last season.
Senior Perry Pitre, backup to LaFleur last season, takes over the reins for the Blue Jays this season. In his first game, Pitre was kept on the run, by Rayne’s defense. He would amass 116 yards on 22 carries, and would only add 72 yards passing, completing eight of 18 passes.
“I like their quarterback,” said Legé. “He’s not a big kid, but he’s gutsy and scrappy. He can beat you with his arm or his legs.
“We definitely have our work cut out for us.”
Coming into the year, St. Edmund Head Coach Thomas David was high on Pitre, knowing he was ready to take the next step.
Other seniors Austin LaFleur, Biscuit Arnaud, Cade Leblanc and Kalob Zaunbrecher are also key this year for the Blue Jays success for their leadership alone.
Zaunbrecher, a first team All-District player, will lead the offensive line, which is one of the biggest lines St. Edmund has had in years. Now they must turn that size into physical and dominant play. If they can do that, it will make Pitre and the running backs’ (led by LaFleur) jobs much easier, and teams like Iota’s much harder.
“It doesn’t matter which running back they throw at you, all of them are good and compliment their offense well,” said Legé.
“It’s going to be up to our guys up front to account for not only them, but the quarterback, because he can make plays as well.”
Those facets will have to be stopped by the Bulldogs’ defense, which had a strong night Friday against Vinton, according to Legé.
“For the most part they played well last week,” he said; “they held (Vinton’s) offense in check for most of the night. A couple of miscues on pass plays was really about it for them. For our defense, it’s a matter of trying to get better and sharpening up our reads.”
On the other side Iota will need to find consistency and sustain drives. That is this week’s real focus Legé says.
“We have a long way to go, but you know our tailback rushed for 152 yards Friday night, if we can sustain some drives we are in good shape,” he said. “We’ve got to get our execution down.”
Once they shore up their offense, Iota will have to contend with a young St. Edmund defense that features playmakers like Arnaud and LaFleur.
The strength of St. Edmund’s defense is linebacker, according to David. LaFleur and Arnaud, along with Hank Miller, Brett Fontenot and Austin Sittig, all saw action last year on defense and all started at some point last year. That experience is going to be invaluable to St. Edmund this year.
For both teams, the goal is no longer learning it is execution, and this week, possibly more than others, the team that can elude the big mistakes will be the victor.
“Both of us are trying to correct our mistakes and get on the winning track,” said Legé.
Last year’s game was one to be forgotten by Iota. The Bulldogs lost 42-6 in the week two contest against St. Edmund. The two teams faced similar circumstances. Both teams entered the game 0-1 and wanted to get the taste of their first game out of their respective mouths as quick as possible.
This year’s contest will be no different.
The Bulldogs will welcome St. Edmund Friday night at 7 p.m. for their home opener.