Notre Dame's road show continues in New Iberia
Change is in the air at Catholic High. After three seasons with strong armed quarterback Joe Lissard and the spread offense of coach Keith Menard, the Panthers said goodbye to both. Lissard took a lot of passing yards and 23 wins over three seasons down the aisle at graduation while Menard took the head job at Central Lafourche.
Brent Indest, a former All-State quarterback at Catholic High, returns to coach his alma mater after stops including Abbeville, Kaplan and Carencro with a career record of 120-64. He brings with him a new offensive look with the Wing T promising a more balanced approach to the run and pass.
“This will be the first time we see a true Wing T this season,” notes Pios coach Lewis Cook. “St. Louis didn’t use a tight end that often and didn’t run traps. We’ll see more plays like that this week and Catholic has the potential to also back up and throw it down the field.”
Catholic will also feature a new defensive scheme with a 3-3 stack look. Cook expects the Panthers defense to be a challenge for his offense.
“They will line up a nose guard on our center and two defensive tackles to cover our tackles across the front. They stack three linebackers right behind those guys with a couple of strong safeties for five across the middle to cover all six of the running gaps. It’s the same defense Coach Indest used when he was at Crowley and it is a look you don’t see that much.”
Notre Dame drove 64 yards on the first possession of last year’s game with Luke Broussard scoring from nine yards out. Broussard then went 80 yards for another score and the Pios led 34-0 before Catholic High could get anything going offensively. The defense intercepted three passes, forced two fumbles and held Catholic to 24 rushing yards in a 48-16 Pios win.
It was not a pretty sight for those sitting on the home side last week. St. Louis got one first down in the second quarter and had just one yard of offense through three quarters. They got one other first down on a 65 yard run in the fourth quarter after the defensive starters were kicked back on the sideline sipping lemonade. The Saints managed just 78 total yards and other than that one long run it was 26 plays for 13 yards.
With the way this Pios defense is playing and the struggles of the remaining six opponents on the schedule, it’s hard to make a case that things will be much different the rest of the way. Senior linebacker Hunter Stelly says that isn’t the way he or his team approaches any game.
“I am ready to go every week no matter who we are playing. We just have to stay focused on our goals. We don’t take any opponent left on our schedule lightly at all. Everyone in our district is familiar with us and how we play, so that gives them a little advantage over other teams. We realize that when we get to the playoffs the pace will pick up for that type competition. Until then, we just have to remain disciplined and continue to prepare each week like it is the biggest game of the season.”
St. Louis threw some unexpected looks that caused some adjustments on the offensive line. The Pios were never really headed off, just detoured through a few adjustments with the Pios coaches.
“We are fortunate to have guys with the experience our linemen have,” explained Coach Lewis Cook. “We get them on the sideline and they say coach this guy is doing this or that to take that play away. They’ll tell us I need to do this or do that. We tell them what has to happen and they pick it right up.”
GAME BALL AWARDS
Big Play of the Game – Brad Stoma TD Pass to John Michael Besse – After a scoreless first quarter, the Pios took a 7-0 lead and with six minutes to go in the half had a third and seven at the St. Louis 24 yard line. According to Coach Lewis Cook, Stoma and Besse ad libbed for a game turning 24 yard TD pass. “Those guys are able to do things like that at times because of their experience and chemistry. If you have to draw things up every time there is an opportunity it makes things a little harder. They can pick up stuff like that and be able to make those adjustments.”
Hunter Stelly – Led the Pios with 9 tackles and increased his team leading season total to 37 with 23 solo stops. The senior linebacker also forced a fumble and made a crushing tackle on a deflected pass by Christian Landry that the Saints receiver was in mid air attempting to catch and popped the ball up for an interception by Gavin Bourgeois that set up the Stoma to Besse TD pass.
Kade Smith – Teammates say they call him “the Pest” in a complimentary way because on defense, he just won’t go away. The senior linebacker was a disruptive force in the backfield, pressuring the quarterback, in passing lanes and in pursuit. He totaled 5 tackles and recovered a fumble.
Boedy Borill – Sophomore wide receiver made his first career varsity catch a memorable one, beating coverage down the middle of the field and hauling in a 37-yard TD pass from Stoma just before the half.
As a sophomore last season, Jason Pellerin (6-3, 215) impacted the Panthers passing game with his speed and athleticism, including a 22 yard scoring catch against the Pios. As a junior this year, Pellerin has moved back to his position under center to engineer the Wing T offense. He threw for 102 yards and two scores and rushed for 52 yards and two more TDs in the 41-20 win over E.D White.
Senior UL commitment Gabe Fusilier (5-11, 185) returns at wingback where his speed is utilized as both a receiver and ball carrier. Fusilier caught 59 passes for 1,054 yards and 14 touchdowns last year and had 6 receptions for 45 yards against Notre Dame. Last week, Fuselier scored on a 70 yard run, a 15 yard pass from Pellerin and a kickoff return of 87 yards.
Junior Andre Bellefontaine (5-10, 175) hauled in 11 passes for 147 yards against the Pios last season. He has moved to the starting halfback position and rushed for 65 yards last week with a 20 yard TD reception. Senior Devin Verrett (5-8, 165) is the fullback.
Senior tight end Joe Dworaczyk (6-2, 205) will help blocking and also offers a big target for Pellerin in the passing game. Dworaczyk scored on an 11 yard reception in last year’s game, Split end Peyton Pharr (5-11, 175 Jr) will be the downfield threat.
Up front, the Panthers count on five juniors and rely on quickness to compensate for lack of size. Tackles Justin Judice (6-1, 215) and Jonah Broussard (5-9, 235) are the physically biggest up front. The guards are Nic Bonin (5-11, 170) and Tristan Primeaux (5-7, 185) and Jack Bordes (5-9, 180) centers.
Five starters return on defense, but four are two way players. TE Dworaczyk anchors the linebackers, Bellafontaine doubles at cornerback, Verrett is the strong safety and Pharr is the free safety. The Panthers started the season needing young players to step into starting roles and provide depth for those two-way players.
Help comes up front from senior tackle Conner Savoy (6-0, 230) and juniors Jeremyah Brown (6-0, 220) at nose guard and Kyle Simon (5-10, 245) at tackle. The other linebackers are senior Nick Simon (5-9, 180) and junior Courtland Pharr (6-1, 185). Sophomore Jeremy Touchet (5-8, 140) moves in at cornerback and junior Bennet Pecot (5-9, 155) is at safety.