By Ron Brocato
The story lines are the same each year. Every coach thinks his team should be picked to finish last in its respective district. It makes for priceless bulletin board fodder.
There are only one or two coaches this year we can accommodate. One is the coach of a Catholic League team.
Of the 11 Catholic high schools in the New Orleans area that field football teams, look for at least two to win a district championship. That would be St. Paul’s and De La Salle.
This should be the year of the quarterback among local Catholic school teams. Eight starters from the 2016 season will again be aligned behind their centers, including Lloyd Nash, St. Charles Catholic; John Paul Pierce, Brother Martin; Alex Watermeier, Jesuit; Jontae McDowell, St. Paul’s; and Logan Klotz, Pope John Paul II.
And in an interesting twist, Chandler Fields, who started at Holy Cross for the past two years, will take the snaps for Archbishop Rummel, while former Rummel signal-caller, Jaden Moran, is the new Holy Cross quarterback. An even trade?
The Catholic League (District 9-5A) order of finish will resemble 2016. John Curtis will likely repeat as the district champion. If the River Ridge school does not win, it will be one of the six others that takes its place:
- Archbishop Rummel – Fields throwing to such outstanding receivers like JaMarr Chase and sprint champion Jermie Walker will take the heat off the ground attack. The defense will again be solid behind linemen Jacob Fury and Glen Thurmond and linebacker Aaron Brulé.
- Brother Martin – Could flip positions with Rummel. The Crusaders have size on both lines. Pierce will give them experience as a runner and passer, but finding ball-carriers in the class of past greats like Danté Butler and Bruce Jordan-Swilling will be an interesting undertaking.
- St. Augustine – Physically, the Knights match up with anyone in their division. They lost many productive players through graduation but still have a number of talented bodies. They may be on the verge of taking that big step this season.
- Jesuit – Not the greatest talent as true athletes, the Blue Jays nevertheless contend because they are fundamentally sound and make fewer mistakes than their opponents. This will be an interesting bunch to watch.
- Holy Cross – Steadily improving in size and numbers. Perhaps another year away from contending with the front runners, but if any team in this district makes a quick turnaround, it might be the Tigers.
- Archbishop Shaw – First-year head coach Tommy Connors took the job because he feels the school is committed to improve the program. Though the Eagles may take a few lumps, Connors is determined to be building the program up again.
1. St. Paul’s, 2. Covington, 3. Northshore, 4. Ponchatoula, 5. Mandeville, 6. Slidell,
7. Fontainebleau, 8. Hammond.
The Wolves will again be fundamentally sound, and although they lost some top talent to graduation, the offense should be in good hands with McDowell and Corey Williamson taking charge of the ground game.
1. De La Salle, 2. St. Charles Catholic, 3. St. James, 4. Donaldsonville, 5. Lusher.
De La Salle enjoyed its first 12-win season in history, and now the Cavaliers want to win that elusive Division III title. And they have the experience to get there.
I counted 14 starters returning, and although the schedule will be a bit tougher, the Cavaliers just need to get past St. Charles Catholic to win another district title. No easy task.
De La Salle is loaded with talent despite the relatively few numbers on the roster. The defense will be especially strong.
St. Charles moved into Class 3A and a more competitive district, but the Comets have not experienced a losing season under head man Frank Monica in his 18 years at the school. The meeting with De La Salle Oct. 27 at home will be a sight to behold.
Hannan & Pope John Paul II
1. Loranger, 2. Albany, 3. Archbishop Hannan, 4. Jewell Sumner, 5. Bogalusa.
The Hannan Hawks have grown to Class 3A status in a relatively short period of time, and even though they moved into a very competitive district, it shouldn’t be long before the school’s talent pool rises to the occasion. Could it be this year?
They bang heads with St. Charles Catholic in LaPlace on Aug. 25.
1. Independence, 2. Northlake Christian, 3. Amite, 4. Pine, 5. St. Helena, 6. Springfield, 7. St. Thomas Aquinas, 8. Pope John Paul II.
Although Hannan has moved out of this northshore district, things won’t get any easier for Pope John Paul II’s relatively small squad.
Independence, a perennial playoff contender in Class 3A, has downsized into the district. The other four teams the Jaguars are used to seeing all return a slew of veteran players.
The Slidell school will have to weather a difficult opponent every week of the season.
Ron Brocato can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CLARION HERALD PRE-SEASON TEAM
Pos.– Name,School, Ht./Wt., Class
QB – Lloyd Nash, St. Charles Cath., 5-11/175, Sr.
RB – Dwan Trufant, Abp. Rummel, 5-9/190, Sr.
RB – Corey Williamson, St. Paul’s, 5-11/225, Sr.
WR – Jermie Walker, Abp. Rummel, 6-0/160, Sr.
WR – JaMarr Chase, Abp. Rummel, 6-1/195, Sr.
TE – Keith Settle, St. Augustine, 6-1/230, Sr.
OL – Zack Breaux, Brother Martin, 6-5/323, Sr.
OL – Robert McDonald, St. Charles Cath., 6-2/225, Sr.
OL – Christian Hoz, Abp. Hannan, 6-5/300, Sr.
OL – Jeremiah James, De La Salle, 6-0/295, Sr.
OL – Rhett Fleetwood, Brother Martin, 6-3/265, Sr.
DL – Jamiran James, De La Salle, 6-0/290, Sr.
DL – Noah Seiden, St. Paul’s, 6-3/230, Sr.
DL – Glen Thurmond, Abp. Rummel, 5-11/250, Sr.
DL – Rhett Weidenbacher, Holy Cross, 6-3/225, Sr.
LB – Dellary Oubre, St. Charles Cath., 6-2/220, Sr.
LB – Robert Lastrick, De La Salle, 6-0/230, Sr.
LB – Aaron Brulé, Abp. Rummel, 6-2/210, Sr.
LB – Jabari Watts, Brother Martin, 5-10/220, Sr.
DB – Mike Hull, Jesuit, 5-9/170, Sr.
DB – Lance Robinson, De La Salle, 5-10/180, Sr.
DB – Donniel Ward-Magee, St. Augustine, 5-10/170, Sr.
DB – Matthew Alfonso, Abp. Shaw, 6-0/190, Sr.
Ret. – Julien Gums, De La Salle, 5-10/215, Sr.