Brother Martin is coming off the school’s most successful season in two decades.
The Crusaders are hoping to build on that momentum from a season ago, when the team won 10 games and was one victory away from making it to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
But coach Mark Bonis knows that what happened last year has no effect on this season.
“We are hoping some momentum can carry over, but we can’t dwell on the success we had last year,” he said. “Last year was a different team. This 2015 team has a lot to prove on its own.”
Brother Martin, which returns the bulk of its offense from last season, starts the season ranked No. 3 in The New Orleans Advocate’s Large School Super 10.
With the lofty rankings come expectations. There has been a buzz on Elysian Fields about the upcoming season.
“I think they are handling it well,” Bonis said. “We tried to get it out of their system early. They know they haven’t proven anything yet. After a successful year, it’s very easy for kids to become complacent. So far, from what we have seen, complacency hasn’t set in. The kids are working hard. That’s a tribute to them.”
An offense that scored 40 points six times last season, including a 63-point outburst in a playoff win over Shaw, could be even more explosive.
Jared West, a first-team All-Metro running back, is now at Northwestern State. But junior Bruce Jordan-Swilling should be more than able to pick up the slack.
The Crusaders also return quarterback Jake Broggi, who will be starting for the third straight season. He has several dangerous weapons, including tight ends Peyton Aucoin and Irv Smith.
The key will be how well the defense comes together.
“We lost eight guys defensively, so they have to have a really fast learning curve,” Bonis said.
Cornerback Tre Swilling will be one of the leaders on that side of the ball.
Brother Martin would like nothing better than to be this year’s version of the 2014 Jesuit team that made it to the Superdome and captured its first state championship since 1960. But before the Crusaders capture a state title, the District 9-5A crown would be nice as well. Rummel, ranked No. 1 in the Super 10, is the favorite.
Not that a district title is needed to win a state title.
Each of the past two seasons, the team that finished second in the Catholic League went on to win the state title. Both times, the district runner-up lost to the district champion in the regular season but won the all-important rematch in the semifinals of the playoffs.
In 2013, it was Rummel beating district champ St. Augustine and then winning it all. Last season, it was second-place Jesuit beating champion Rummel and getting to the Dome.
Much like Bonis, Jesuit coach Mark Songy knows that last season’s success has no bearing on this year’s team.
“We are really focused on what we are doing right now,” Songy said. “The kids take it all in stride. We haven’t blown off last year, but we just realize that it’s a new year and you have to move along.”
Songy admitted that it takes a while to move on after a championship season.
He and several players attended a banquet commemorating that title in early August when they were named the greater New Orleans Team of the Year.
“When you win a state championship, there is always something going on,” Songy said. “But I think since we took the field for practice, we have been able to shut all of it out and focus on what we need to focus on. We have a group of seniors who want to make their own mark, and they are working their tails off.”
Jesuit, Brother Martin, Holy Cross, St. Augustine, Shaw and league newcomer John Curtis are all chasing favorite Rummel.
Bonis is hoping to have his Crusaders in the mix.
“Our 2014 team had a great season,” Bonis said. “(For) the 2015 team, the book is still to be written.”
Brother Martin Crusaders
Coach: Mark Bonis (38-28)
2014: 10-3, 3-2
Last time in playoffs: 2014 (lost to John Curtis in the Division I select semifinals)
Looking back: The Crusaders sprinted to an 8-0 start and went on to win 10 games for the first time in 20 years.
Moving forward: Jake Broggi (2,097 passing yards, 17 TDs) returns for his third season as QB and has a solid RB in the backfield with him in Bruce Jordan-Swilling (940 yards, 18 TDs). There are plenty of other weapons, like TEs Irv Smith and Peyton Aucoin.
Ask The Advocate: The Crusaders will prove that last year wasn’t a fluke and will be a serious contender in the always-rugged Catholic League. How well the defense comes together will have a lot to do with that.
Projected starters on offense: QB Jake Broggi (6-4, 201, Sr.), RB Bruce Jordan-Swilling (6-2, 210, Jr.), FB Wiliam Fulham (5-10, 185, Jr.), OL Paul Boudreaux (5-9, 220, Jr.), OL Victor Quinonez (6-1, 265, Sr.), OL Patrick Lynch 6-1, 240, Sr.), OL Nichola Klemm (5-10, 229, Jr.), OL Jacob Clapp (6-1, 243, Sr.), TE Peyton Aucoin (6-5, 255, Sr.), WR Jeremy Singleton (6-0, 177 Jr.), WR Thomas Sheperd (5-9, 155, Sr.), TE Irv Smith (6-4, 237, Sr.).
Projected starters on defense: DL Jordan Tafaro (6-1, 226, Sr.), DL Andre Walker (6-2, 215, Sr.), DL Matthew Clapp (6-2, 262, Jr.), DL Cameron Duplatier (6-0, 234, Jr.), LB Somon Anderson (5-10, 210, Jr.), LB Rod Thornton (5-9, 196, Jr.), LB Brendan Brown (6-1, 198, So.), DB Christopher Webb (5-9, 158, Jr.), DB Taylor Soileau, 5-10, 181, Sr.), DB Bailey Nuss (6-2, 190, Sr.), DB James Blake (5-8, 173, Sr.).
Sept. 4 at Plaquemine
Sept. 11 St. Stanislaus (Miss.)
Sept. 18 Edna Karr
Sept. 26 John Curtis#
Oct. 3 at St. Augustine#
Oct. 9 Sulphur
Oct. 16 at Holy Cross#
Oct. 24 at Rummel#
Oct. 30 Shaw#
Nov. 6 at Jesuit#
John Curtis Patriots
Coach: J.T. Curtis (542-58-6)
2014: 10-2, 4-0 in District 11-3A
Last time in playoffs: 2014 (lost to Jesuit in the Division I select title game)
Looking back: The Patriots competed in Class 3A during the regular season but played up in the playoffs and reached the Division I select championship game.
Moving forward: Brock Hebert takes over at QB, replacing Myles Washington. He won’t have to shoulder the load alone, especially with Devon Benn in the backfield. The offensive line, anchored by Willie Allen, will be the team’s strength. The defense should be solid as well.
Ask The Advocate: District play has been a breeze for the Patriots over the years. That won’t be the case now that they have moved up to 5A. They’ll be competitive and may be good enough to win it, but the days of blowout district wins are over.
Projected starters on offense: QB Brock Hebert (5-10, 200, Sr.), RB Devon Benn (5-10, 190, Sr.), RB Darryan Washington (5-10, 175, So.), G Kyle Burns (5-10, 230, Sr.), G Rashaad Jones (6-0, 290, Sr.), C Jacob Heath (5-10, 270, Sr.), T Jake Charpentier (6-3, 285, Sr.), T Willie Allen (6-7, 310, Sr.), WR Travis O’Connor (6-2, 195, Sr.), WR Eli Brown (5-10, 175, Sr.), TE Corey Seiser (6-2, 230, Sr.).
Projected starters on defense: DT Devin Savwoir (6-2, 290, Sr.), DT Poni Tu’uta (6-4, 280, Jr.), NT Coyle Doyle (5-10, 210, Sr.), OLB Kevin Milton (5-10, 210, Sr.), OLB Jay Curtis (6-0, 210, So.), ILB Nathaniel Evans (6-1, 230, Sr.), ILB Tariq Pierce (5-10, 200, Sr.), CB Theodore Stamps (6-1, 190, Sr.), CB Taj Bickham (6-0, 160, So.), S Mason Matherne (5-11, 185, Sr.), S Garrett Wallow (6-2, 200, Jr.).
Sept. 4 at Landry-Walker
Sept. 11 vs. Shades Valley (Ala.) in Shreve.
Sept. 17 at Parkview Baptist
Sept. 26 at Brother Martin#
Oct. 9 at Jesuit#
Oct. 16 St. Augustine#
Oct. 23 at Holy Cross#
Oct. 31 Rummel#
Nov. 6 at Shaw#
Holy Cross Tigers
Coach: Eric Rebaudo (5-6)
2014: 5-6, 1-4
Last playoff appearance: 2014 (lost to Teurlings Catholic in Division I select first round)
Looking back: After a 4-1 start, the Tigers dropped five of their last six. Their only league win came against St. Augustine. Starting QB Kyle Schexnayder was injured midway through the season.
Moving forward: Schexnayder is healthy, and RB Tre Turner (an Arizona State commit) returns for his senior season. Six starters return on a defense that hopes to improve from last year’s group that allowed 27.4 points per game.
Ask The Advocate: Year 2 under Rebaudo should see some improvement with Turner, one of five players who has made a verbal commitment. DE Kenny Hebert (Tulane), LB Jacques Boudreaux (UL-Lafayette) and CB Kyle Meyers (Florida State) lead a young defense.
Projected starters on offense: *TE Tyler Camm (6-3, 226, Sr.), *SE Brett Carter (6-0, 188, Sr.), *T Isiah Carpenter (6-1, 275, Sr.), *G Mason Boudreaux (5-11, 286, Jr.), C Chris Bologna (6-1, 230, Sr.), G Randall Amos (6-0, 302, Jr.), *T Gavin Sison (6-2, 240, Sr.), *QB Kyle Schexnayder (5-8, 164, Sr.), *RB Tre Turner (5-9, 190, Sr.), RB Hunter Meraine (5-8, 190, Jr.), *WR Darius Rodrigue (5-9, 170, Sr.).
Projected starters on defense: *DE Kenny Hebert (6-3, 201, Sr.), DE Kenny Karradine (5-10, 220, Jr.), *DT Mark Thomas (6-0, 297, Sr.), *DT Scott Breaux (5-11, 247, Sr.), LB Chris Collet (5-11, 180, So.), LB Joshua Gillard (5-9, 190, So.), *DB Kyle Meyers (6-0, 175, Sr.), *DB Taylor Fleming (5-9, 172, Sr.), DB Trevor Riley (5-11, 155, Sr.), DB Glen Kramer (5-11, 175, Jr.).
Sept. 4 at Mandeville
Sept. 11 at Hammond
Sept. 18 at Chalmette
Sept. 26 at Shaw#
Oct. 2 at Jesuit#
Oct. 9 at Rummel#
Oct. 16 Brother Martin#
Oct. 23 John Curtis#
Oct. 29 St. Augustine#
Nov. 6 Bogalusa
Jesuit Blue Jays
Coach: Mark Songy (49-29)
2014: 12-2, 4-1
Last playoff appearance: 2014 (beat John Curtis for Division I select championship)
Looking back: Songy set the bar high in his first year back, leading the school to its first state championship since 1960.
Moving forward: Replacing some of the playmakers from a season ago won’t be easy. QB Peter Hontas has looked capable of filling the void of Trey LaForge and has some good weapons at WR, especially Kalija Lipscomb. RB Conner Prouett will be asked to carry the load after the departures of Chris Mills and Charles Jackson.
Ask The Advocate: Winning a second straight title seems like a bit of a reach, especially losing so much off last year’s team. A brutal non-district slate won’t make things easy.
Projected starters on offense: *WR Kalija Lipscomb (6-1, 190, Sr.), *WR Malachi Hull (5-9, 170, Sr.), TE Evan Slattery (6-5, 280, Jr.), OL Cameron Maheu (6-5, 280, Jr.), *Austin Reed (6-4, 350, Sr.), *OL John Sewell (5-10, 260, Sr.), OL Benji Creel (6-3, 270, Sr.), *OL Corey Dublin (6-4, 280, Jr.), QB Peter Hontas (6-1, 190, Sr.), RB Conner Prouett (5-11, 200, Jr.), WR Scott Jenkins (6-2, 190, Sr.).
Projected starters on defense: *DE Zack Robert (6-2, 230, Sr.), DT Josh Sauviac (6-0, 270, Jr.), DT Karson Schmitt (6-3, 250, Sr.), DE Henry Moreau (5-11, 200, Sr.), LB Cameron Crozier (5-11, 190, Jr.), LB Ron Harper (5-10, 200, Sr.), LB Josh Lacoste (5-10, 190, Sr.), *DB Jakiria Wiley (5-10, 185, Sr.), *DB Mark Beebe (6-1, 200, Sr.), DB Patrick Spiers (6-3, 190, Jr.), DB Christian Marks (5-8, 170, Jr.).
Sept. 3 Warren Easton
Sept. 11 at St. Paul’s
Sept. 18 Escambia (Fla.)
Sept. 25 St. Augustine#
Oct. 2 Holy Cross#
Oct. 9 John Curtis#
Oct. 17 Rummel#
Oct. 24 Shaw#
Oct. 30 Franklinton
Nov. 6 Brother Martin#
Coach: Jay Roth (195-48)
2014: 11-1, 5-0
Last playoff appearance: 2014 (lost to Jesuit in Division I select semifinals)
Looking back: The Raiders won the Catholic League and had a 17-game winning streak before Jesuit ended it in the playoffs.
Moving forward: The Raiders are loaded. Chase Fourcade is back at QB for a third straight year and has a pair of big-time RBs in Maurice Bailey and Israel Tucker. The line will be good, and the defense could be one of the stingiest in the state with DT Briston Guidry and CB Kristian Fulton leading the charge.
Ask The Advocate: Anything short of a trip to the Superdome and a third title in four years would be a shock.
Projected starters on offense: C Joseph Holt (6-0, 255, Sr.), G Jordan Melancon (5-5, 205, Sr.), G Joe Oliver (6-1, 310, Sr.), T Larry Robinson (6-3, 290, Sr.), T Larry Major (6-0, 240, Sr.), TE David Mosley (6-1, 200, Jr.), WR David Hensley (5-9, 175, Sr.), WR Brett Eschette (5-9, 145, Sr.), QB Chase Fourcade (5-11, 175, Sr.), FB Todd Weller (6-2, 220, Sr.), RB Maurice Bailey (5-10, 175, Sr.).
Projected starters on defense: DT Briston Guidry (6-3, 275, Sr.), DT Robert Hudgins (5-10, 230, Sr.), DE Sam Servat (5-11, 225, Sr.), DE Dante Payne (5-11, 210, So.), LB Shahid Reece (6-0, 185, Jr.), LB Derrick Munson (6-0, 185, Jr.), LB Jacob Macaluso (6-0, 215, Sr.), DB Kristian Fulton (6-0, 175, Sr.), DB Andrew Danove (5-7, 155, Jr.), DB Aaron Brule (6-0, 175, So.), DB Jakobi Jones (5-10, 165, Jr.).
Sept. 4 at University
Sept. 11 at Covington
Sept. 18 at Wayne County (Miss.)
Sept. 26 at Don Bosco Prep (N.J.)
Oct. 3 Shaw#
Oct. 9 Holy Cross#
Oct. 17 at Jesuit#
Oct. 24 at Brother Martin#
Oct. 31 at John Curtis#
Nov. 7 St. Augustine#
Coach: Scott Bairnsfather (77-57 at Shaw, 102-76 overall)
2014: 5-6, 1-4
Last playoff appearance: 2014 (lost to Brother Martin in the Division I select first round)
Looking back: The Eagles, in their second season back in the Catholic League, got their first district win by beating Holy Cross in the regular-season finale. They lost two district games by seven points or fewer, including a one-point loss to St. Augustine.
Moving forward: Trey Ragas is back at RB, and Matt Keller returns at QB, so the offense should be in good shape. The defense returns six starters, so that side of the ball should be able to keep the Eagles in games.
The Advocate says: Depth is always the problem for the Eagles in district play, especially late in games. But with arguably the league’s top back, three or four district wins looks possible.
Projected starters on offense (multiple): *TE Cole Ragas (6-0, 200, Jr.), *SE Pat Allen (5-9, 150, Sr.), WR Denzell McCoy (5-8, 150, Sr.), *T Cameron Jackell (6-5, 280, Jr.), G Mitch Schaefer (5-9, 260, Sr.), *C Justin Adams (5-9, 240, Sr.), G Austin Billiot (5-10, 270, Fr.), T John Cotton (6-0, 280, Sr.), *QB Matt Keller (6-1, 200, Sr.), *RB Trey Ragas (5-11, 210, Sr.).
Projected starters on defense (3-3-5): *DE Malcolm Rollins (6-1, 230, Jr.), DE Tyrone Myles (6-0, 245, Jr.), NT Donald Barba (6-0, 225, Jr.), *LB Joe LaCava (5-10, 185, Sr.), LB Luke Cahill (5-9, 190, Jr.), *LB Brandon Gautreaux (5-11, 190, Sr.), LB Devante Williams (5-10, 175, Sr.), *DB Juwan Gray (5-9, 155, Sr.), DB Bradley Davis (6-2, 180, Sr.), *DB Trent King (5-10, 160, Sr.), *DB Sean-Michael Dumas (6-0, 180, Sr.).
Sept. 5 East St. John
Sept. 12 Teurlings Catholic
Sept. 18 at West Jefferson
Sept. 26 at Holy Cross#
Oct. 3 at Rummel#
Oct. 10 at St. Augustine#
Oct. 16 at Belle Chasse
Oct. 24 at Jesuit#
Oct. 30 at Brother Martin#
Nov. 7 John Curtis#
St. Augustine Purple Knights
Coach: Al Jones
2014: 4-6, 1-4
Last time in playoffs: 2014 (lost to Jesuit in Division I select first round)
Looking back: The Purple Knights had a losing season in their first year without Leonard Fournette. The season was highlighted by a second straight win over John Curtis, but the Purple Knights stumbled after that and lost five of their last six.
Moving forward: Jones takes over as coach, replacing Cyril Crutchfield. The offense should be in great hands with Justice McCoy returning at QB. LSU commit Jamal Pettigrew is one of many playmaking targets McCoy will be able to count on, along with Paul Keller.
Ask The Advocate: Not many people are talking about the Purple Knights. It won’t take long to see how good they are with early dates against McDonogh 35 and Landry-Walker. Surpassing the number of district wins from last season won’t be easy.
Projected starters on offense: QB Justice McCoy (6-2, 170, Jr.), RB Darrel Landry (5-8, 160, Sr.), WR Paul Keller (5-10, 165, Sr.), WR Johnathan Willard (5-11, 170, Sr.), WR Takulve Williams (6-0, 180, Jr.), OL Edan Raymond (6-4, 260, Sr.), OL Ricky Amos (5-10, 260, Jr.), C Brian Watson (5-11, 250, Sr.), OL Tyree Rhodes (6-1, 255, Jr.), OL Rendon Miles-Character (6-0, 265, Jr.), TE Jamal Pettigrew (6-7, 250, Sr.).
Projected starters on defense: DE Deitras Melancon (6-3, 230, Sr.), DT Lawrence Adams (6-4, 258, Sr.), DT Gary Mackey (6-2, 240, Jr.), DE D’Andre Christmas-Giles (6-4, 290, Sr.), LB Giovanni LaFrance (6-2, 230, Sr.), LB Cordie Johnson (5-8, 165, Jr.), LB Tyler Magee (6-0, 175, Jr.), DB Jeremiah West (6-1, 160, Jr.), DB Rodney Coleman (6-0, 165, Jr.), DB Dontaevion Johnson (5-10, 170, Sr.), DB Donniel Ward-Magee (5-11, 160, So.).
Sept. 5 at McDonogh 35
Sept. 11 Scotlandville
Sept. 18 at Landry-Walker
Sept. 25 at Jesuit#
Oct. 3 Brother Martin#
Oct. 10 Shaw#
Oct. 16 at John Curtis#
Oct. 23 at Thibodaux
Oct. 29 Holy Cross#
Nov. 7 at Rummel#
* — returning starter; # — district game