CROWLEY — The backfield at Notre Dame will be missing a familiar face and a major contributor from its 2013 squad.

John Michael Besse had more than 900 yards of total offense for the Pioneers in 2013 and scored 13 touchdowns. The Pios finished with an undefeated regular season and made a run into the playoffs before being ousted by Parkview Baptist in a stacked Division II bracket.

Besse left the team in the offseason and is now playing seven miles down the road at Rayne High School. To replace Besse, Notre Dame coach Lewis Cook said he will count on several new faces to lead the rushing attack in 2014.

“We have Lance Bertrand who is a real good kid,” Cook said. “Lance is pretty good, but we don’t want to wear him down. He is not going to have to carry the whole load.”

Bertrand, a junior this season who spelled Besse in a backup role last season, said he thought he’d have to wait one more year to get his chance to lead the Pios rushing attack.

“I didn’t think I was going to be able to have this role until my senior year,” Bertrand said. “I have completely embraced it. Since I was given the role, I just took it and I try to help my team the best I can.”

Bertrand said Besse’s exit from the squad was a bitter pill to swallow for not only him, but for all of his teammates.

“We were really bummed out about losing him,” Bertrand said, “but all the running backs we have right now are good and we’ve been working hard for the team.”

Bertrand said he has seen a lot of good things from his teammates in practice and said he believes the running game will continue to be an asset for the Pios in 2014.

“Everything is going good for us right now,” Bertrand said. “Yes, we did lose a good running back last year, but we are still really good.”

Along with Bertrand, Notre Dame will have senior Damon Comeaux, who saw a lot of playing time last season when Besse was injured, and junior backup quarterback Joe Faulk, who Cook said brings athleticism to the position.

“Joe Faulk is an athlete with ability to run,” Cook said. “Damon Comeaux is going to help out. We’re going to have a good mix.”

Bertrand said he has a lot of confidence in his fellow running backs and said he is appreciative that they’re there to keep him fresh.

“It is really great to have them,” Bertrand said. “They are both really good athletes, and they know how to get things done.”

The expectations are always high at Notre Dame and Bertrand acknowledged those expectations. He said he thinks if they continue to put in the work, they have a chance to be special.

“We have a really good chance,” Bertrand said. “We work all year for the end of the year. That is always our mindset every year.”