Pioneers hold their own against St. Thomas More

LAFAYETTE – Going up against bigger, stronger and better teams is nothing new for Notre Dame.

The Pios play one of the toughest schedules in the state year in and year out.

And it all starts with their annual scrimmage.

On Thursday, the Pios got in their first test of the 2012 prep football campaign when they went through roughly a two-hour drill at Class 4A St. Thomas More.

And although the Cougars were the only team to score during the 12-play team scrimmage portion, Notre Dame coach Louis Cook was upbeat after what he saw from his squad.

“Overall, I was pleased,” said Cook following the scrimmage. “By no means are we really satisfied. We know we have to get better, but for this time of the year and the opponent that we were going against, I thought we had several bright spots.”

Offensively, those bright spots came during the Pios’ first series. With starting running back Luke Broussard sidelined with an injury, Notre Dame was able to sustain an 8-play drive behind runs by John Michael Besse, Noah Touchet and Austin Thibodeaux.

“Luke’s knee has been a little sore and we decided to rest him,” said Cook. “So the question was: what happens after Luke? I thought that John Michael Besse and Noah Touchet were able to step in and give us a little bit there.”

Notre Dame also benefited from two completions from Brad Stoma to Marcus Garrett and Brandon Leger during the series.

“Brad (Stoma) played most of the plays with the ones and he had a few nice throws,” said Cook. “He did a good job of running the offense and our receivers had some nice catches.”

However, the Pios drive ended at the STM 18-yard line after a 14-yard reception for a first down. On the play, a STM defender was able to jar the ball loose and the Cougars recovered the fumble.

“We had a decent drive going there,” said Cook of the Pios’ first offensive series. “It was a little disappointing that we had the fumble and weren’t able to finish that drive. I would have liked to have had that first down on the 18-yard line and see if would could have finished it with a touchdown.”

Defensively, the Pios held the Cougars first unit to just nine yards on the ground on four rushes.

But a few breakdowns in coverage led to two big pass plays, including a 31-yard scoring strike.

“Defensively, the bright spot was that we really played well against the run,” said Cook. “It was obvious that we had a busted coverage when they scored the touchdown, though, because the guy was by himself down the field. If it weren’t for those two pass plays, they were having a tough time running the football.”

The Cougars completed five of their seven pass attempts during their three offensive series for 85 yards.

“We know that we have a little growing up to do in the secondary,” said Cook. “There are actually four guys - Caleb Lambousy, Hogan Guidry, Sam Veillion and Christian Landry – rolling into one corner and one safety spot, so that was good work for them.”

Aside from the scrimmage portion of the rather unique workout, the Pios and the Cougars got the bulk of their work during the first 1 ½ hour of the day. The teams split up into groups and went through several drills, including a seven on seven pass drill and inside run drill.

“The format we use gives you a chance to run a lot of plays that you’re not going to get to run in the scrimmage,” said Cook. “We ran a bunch of plays on that inside drill that we wouldn’t have gotten to run in the scrimmage. So now we can go back and show the linemen if they blocked the right guy or they didn’t. Why they were able to stay on the block or why they weren’t able to stay on the block.

“In the pass scale drill, we got to see if the quarterbacks made the right read. And we got to throw 12 passes against their one defense and their coverage. We wouldn’t have thrown 12 passes in a 12-play scrimmage.

“We’re doing it to get more reps, but it gives us a chance to go back and break it down on film for the kids so that they can see it and get a picture in their mind of why it was successful or why it wasn’t.”

With the scrimmage in the books, the Pios now turn their focus to the Lafayette Kiwanis Jamboree where they will take on Northside on Friday at UL-Lafayette’s Cajun Field. That game is slated for 6:30 p.m.

“Now it’s just a matter of how much we can improve over this next week,” said Cook. “It’s good to have some film against somebody else and now we can start moving forward from there.”

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