Starting the season 0-2, including a 48-0 loss at home to Catholic High of Baton Rouge, it looked as though it might be a long season for the Mandeville Skippers.
However, behind a stifling defense, the Skippers are riding high on a four-game winning streak and are only a game behind Ponchatoula for the District 6-5A crown heading into their game Friday night at Northshore.
The Skippers made their debut in The New Orleans Advocate’s Large School Super 10 this week at the No. 10 spot.
Mandeville coach Guy Lecompte credits his defense for his team’s turnaround.
“We put a lot of stock in our defense no doubt,” Lecompte said. “We have done that for many years now. If you go back to the past two seasons, when we made it to the state semifinals, it was the same thing. We believe defense carries you to success.”
The statistics back up Lecompte. In the past four games, Mandeville is giving up an average of 4.3 points a game in wins over Fontainebleau, St. Paul’s, Hammond and Slidell. In their 20-0 win over the Tigers, Mandeville held Slidell to only 91 yards and running back Kain Mitchell to only 22 yards on 18 carries.
“Defenses win championships,” Lecompte said. “We know that. The biggest change for us this year was a change under center. We are breaking in a new quarterback in Joseph Bulovas. We knew our defense was going to have to carry us. We were fortunate enough to return a lot of starters and playmakers. Our kids are buying in to what the coaching staff is trying to teach them.
“I know people want me to single out a specific player or two who has made a difference, but that is not how we do things at Mandeville. I will give you a perfect example. Each week we give an award for outstanding defensive player and through eight games we have had eight different players get that award. Everyone is contributing to our success defensively.”
One of those outstanding players is senior linebacker Matthew Scanlon. Scanlon has had an outstanding year for Mandeville, leading the team in tackles with 93 in addition to 21/2 sacks, an interception, two fumble recoveries and a safety.
The Mandeville coach said the ability to put a stifling defense on the field has helped with the maturity of Bulovas.
“Our offense and defense definitely feed off of each other,” Lecompte said. “The season prior to the semifinal seasons we had a strong offense and defensively we weren’t. I can remember offensive players coming off the field feeling like we were in trouble if we had to punt the ball. So a good defense is helping Joseph mature and become a better quarterback.
“You are seeing that when the last couple of weeks we are not turning the ball over as much when we have it. We are able to have more time of possession with the ball, and when the defense comes back onto the field, they are rested and ready to go. It just shows you how much of a team game football truly is. Things work hand-in-hand.”