Being a leader is a lot of work.

Just ask Holy Cross receiver Michael Chigbu — not that he’s complaining.

For example, when Chigbu’s Tigers offense beats the defense during team drills, he has to run with the defense.

No fair, right?

Chigbu said no problem.

First-year coach Eric Rebaudo said he hopes Chigbu’s efforts and examples of pride, more than his words, will help Holy Cross this fall in the Catholic League. It started with Thursday evening’s scrimmage against Ponchatoula High at Pan American Stadium.

“I have to do everything before everybody,” said Chigbu, who this summer committed to the University of Georgia. “I have to be the first (at practice) in the morning, be the last to leave. I’ve got to clean up after myself, look after everybody, be an inspiration to everybody. That’s just being a leader, a Holy Cross man.”

Last season, Chigbu caught 48 passes for 785 yards and six touchdowns, helping Holy Cross amass a 9-3 record. The Tigers reached the Division I playoffs, beating Catholic-Baton Rouge in the quarterfinals, before falling in the state semifinals for the second time in as many seasons, this time to Shreveport’s C.E. Byrd.

This year, the Tigers want to go even further, with the help of a balanced offense, thanks to a foursome in the backfield, led by Tre Turner.

“I think we can get better,” Rebaudo said. “At times, I think we hit the hole hard and show glimpses of what we can do. You look at the very successful teams; they’re the teams that can control the line of scrimmage and run the ball.”

Still, Chigbu and new starting quarterback Kyle Schexnayder will be a vital part of the school’s success. That’s why Chigbu worked so hard this offseason, his way of erasing his former status as a “raw” talent, and becoming more “polished,” he said.

True, he has much to learn, and always will. But finally, Chigbu knows where he needs to be on the field, what he needs to do and most importantly, how to do it.

“I’ve been working all summer, training, working out going on the field every day working on my routes, my speed,” he said. “Everything. I want to get everything polished. It’s going pretty good, from where I started to now.

“I know what I’m doing.”

Holy Cross opens the regular season Sept. 5 at Covington.