Two weeks after making history with a 10-0 regular season, the Catholic-New Iberia Panthers have returned to the practice field to prepare for a Division III second-round playoff rematch against Northlake Christian on Friday.
Senior wide receiver/running back Andre’ Bellefontaine said the Panthers’ mindset has remained consistent leading up to the playoffs.
“It’s about the same,” Bellefontaine said. “We always knew we would be battling in the playoffs. We still have the same goal: a state championship.”
At the end of the 2013 season, Catholic-New Iberia knew they would need someone to fill the offensive void left behind by departing senior running back/wide receiver Gabe Fuselier, now playing with Louisiana-Lafayette.
So far in 2014, Bellefontaine has done that plus more. Bellefontaine has been a potent weapon on offense in the Panthers’ Wing-T formation, tallying 1,099 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns.
Bellefontaine’s fellow running back Seth Pierre (1,020 yards, 16 TDs) has also been a nightmare for opposing defenses, creating a dynamic backfield duo.
“I knew I would be getting a lot more of a workload this season,” Bellefontaine said. “Seth stepped up big time this year. Having another player to rely on is huge.”
A highlight reel for Bellefontaine would showcase his ability to pick up yards after contact, emulating another running back that he once admired.
“Growing up I liked Jacob Hester,” Bellefontaine said of the former LSU running back “He ran hard and broke lots of tackles. It’s always my mentality to not go down, keep my legs moving and bounce off the tackles.”
Bellefontaine can be found in other places other than the backfield. He serves as the Panthers’ kickoff return specialist, averaging 27.2 yards per return. Bellefontaine started Catholic-New Iberia’s game against Loreauville with a bang, returning the opening kickoff 85 yards for the score, propelling the Panthers to a 69-12 victory.
He has also become quarterback Jason Pellerin’s favorite target, leading the team in receiving yards (398) and receiving TDs (five).
Catholic-New Iberia and Northlake Christian (9-2) are familiar with one another. The Wolverines will be trying to redeem themselves after falling in last year’s quarterfinals to Catholic-New Iberia 60-26.
“Northlake Christian is a solid football team,” Bellefontaine said. “They have big, physical linebackers and a solid defensive line. It is going to be a good challenge.”