Notre Dame to square off with St. Martinville in Kiwanis Jamboree

CROWLEY – Notre Dame has been here before. Another large and talented graduating class has left big shoes to fill on both sides of the ball and the same questions about depth and experience that seem to pop up every fall for head coach Lewis Cook.

“We’re in a position right now where we have to have some guys step up and it was good to see a couple of our young kids play really well in the scrimmage last week at St. Thomas More,” said Cook. “Half our team is made up of sophomores so a lot of our depth will come from that class and before it’s all over, some starters will probably emerge from that 10th grade class. It was encouraging to see a couple of those guys make the kind of plays we’ll need them to be able to make because we are not as experienced as we have been over the last couple of years.”

A challenging schedule and new district alignment combine for another rugged road ahead and is a big reason Cook annually leads his troops into the Cougar’s Den for the scaled down scrimmage. While the meeting is a tough matchup, the payoff is expected to better prepare the young Pios.

“It’s good for us to go in there, see how we’ll hold up, and fight the fight,” said Cook. “We were encouraged that STM wasn’t able to consistently run the ball against us because they are big and strong and we know we’re a little overmatched going against them. We didn’t just get pushed around and that was good to see.”

The jamboree week kicks off the high school season, but doesn’t directly get you to the Superdome for the championship game. For Notre Dame it will be the start of a process to answer a lot of those questions.

“Because the scoreboard is on, you are conscious of winning and losing, but for us it is about getting better,” adds Cook. “Sure, we want to come out with a win, but if you win the game and you haven’t improved, then I am going to be a lot more concerned. We don’t come back Friday and say well, we won the jamboree and now we’re off and running. We’re going to look at it and say where are we this week and where do we need to go from here.”

The Pios will take on St. Martinville tonight at Cajun Field in the second game of the night, following Teurlings against Lafayette High, at the Kiwanis Jamboree. The 4A Tigers have struggled to recapture the success of past years with just three wins over the last two seasons.

“We’re in a jamboree where us and Jennings are the only 3A schools and everyone else is 4A and 5A,” said Cook. “We know that the competition is going to be good. So to concern ourselves with whether or not we’re going to win is not a big thing for us. I told our team what’s important is to be better than we were the week before against STM.”

Offensively, senior quarterback Waylon Young returns after passing for over 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns. Receivers Blake Miller and Josef Schmid step into starting target roles along with Brandon Sonnier at tight end. Nick Gossen rushed for 233 yards on 49 carries last year and is expected to lead the ground game behind a rebuilt offensive line.

“They had some good moments at STM,” said Cook. “There were three guys out there on the offensive line seeing their first serious varsity action. They got on the field a little last year but those three weren’t on the field when the game was on the line. Obviously, there are some things we’ve got to get better at and we know we’ve got a ways to go. Overall, we saw some definite benefits.”

The defense will be anchored by a foursome of experienced seniors with numbers to back their performance of last season. Up front, C.J. Hundley recorded 61 tackles, including nine sacks, and Paul LaCroix had 30 tackles and a sack. Linebacker Conner Goss posted 94 tackles, seven of those for losses, and D.J. Petitjean is back in the secondary after 32 tackles, four interceptions and seven pass break ups.

“Our approach is always let’s concern ourselves with where we are and let everything else take care of itself, “ concludes Pios coach Lewis Cook, “Even in the first five weeks of the season, with the competition we face, we want to be concerned with what we are doing. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is, we aren’t going to change what we do. We focus on continuing to build and progress towards getting where we want to be as a team.”

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