Breaux Bridge senior defensive tackle Keithan Cormier was always curious.
In order to understand the school’s long-standing tradition of stellar defensive tackle play, Cormier sought out former standout Quentin Thomas of LSU for his perspective and to gain valuable insight into playing the position.
“I look up to Quentin a lot, it makes me feel proud and appreciative,” Cormier said of playing defensive tackle at Breaux Bridge. “I’ve talked to some other alumni and always got positive feedback that’s given me confidence. They talked about how to play the position and how to play in big games without any pressure.”
This week, Cormier will have another opportunity to apply such lessons when No. Breaux Bridge (7-3) travels to Monroe to face No. 2 Neville (9-1) in a Class 4A regional playoff game Friday at 7 p.m.
Once again, Breaux Bridge’s defense will be the focal point in the team’s success — a common denominator that’s carried the Tigers to the second round of the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
Breaux Bridge’s defense, which allows 16.3 points an outing, has yielded a touchdown or less four times — a stretch that included consecutive shutouts of District 5-4A foes Northside and St. Martinville.
The past two weeks the Tigers permitted 55 yards rushing in a 25-7 loss to St. Thomas More and followed that in last week’s 41-14 first-round playoff win over West Ouachita by allowing four first downs and 150 total yards with Cormier playing his typical, unheralded role.
“He’s just steady, not flashy,” Breaux Bridge coach Paul Broussard said. “He just goes to work and does what he has to do, and he’s been doing that for two years. He does a great job and is a great kid.”
With seven starters returning, plus the return of senior tackle Brandon Alexander from a season-ending injury in 2013, Breaux Bridge featured talent and experience at every level of that unit.
Senior Orel Ledet and junior Korey Lewis were returning all-district players, while senior defensive back Joseph Williams was an honorable mention all-state selection.
Not a lot of room for Cormier, an honorable mention all-district performer, to grab many headlines or pile up large amounts of tackles at a position in Breaux Bridge’s scheme asked to occupy blockers and make life easier for the linebackers to roam and make plays.
The 6-foot, 270-pound Cormier has not only thrived in that position of almost complete anonymity, he’s flourished because of an unselfish personality and team-first character.
“Sometimes it can be difficult, but I like to do anything for the team to win,” Cormier said. “Coach said you always have to sacrifice in any way to win a game. Even though we don’t make all the tackles, we still sacrifice to win the game. As long as we get the ‘W’.”
When it came to filling a void on the team’s defensive front after the 2012 season, Broussard said he noticed the hard work Cormier, a junior varsity starter, had put in and his commitment to getting stronger in the weight room.
Cormier was placed at tackle last season and has subsequently made 21 consecutive starts going into the Neville game.
“We knew eventually he would be a good one for us,” Broussard said. “He’s always there. He’s one you can always count on.”
While overshadowed at times by his more publicized teammates, Cormier has certainly enjoyed his moments in the sun this season which includes 40 tackles and five sacks.
With Breaux Bridge trying to close out arch-rival Cecilia on in a game the Tigers limited the state’s fifth-leading rusher Raymond Calais 19 carries for 42 yards — it was a late sack from Cormier that helped seal a 20-18 league victory.
“I may be overlooked from people outside our team,” Cormier said. “I get a lot of compliments from my teammates, and they recognize me for being humble. I never complain and do the little things that end up being big.”