Newman coach Nelson Stewart knows all about the challenge of replacing a legend.
As a senior at Newman in 1994, his team embarked on its first season in four years without Peyton Manning at quarterback.
Now, as a coach, he faces the formidable task of overcoming the loss of several highly productive players at the same time the Greenies take on perhaps the toughest Class 2A district in the state.
Newman posted an 11-2 record last year and made its first appearance in the state semifinals in 23 years. Four Class 2A all-state players who finished their careers with the Greenies led the way: quarterback/receiver Jay Tyler, who scored 127 touchdowns in his career and is the school’s all-time total yardage leader with more than 8,600; running back Kendall Bussey, who scored 35 touchdowns last season with 1,240 rushing yards and another 514 receiving; and two-time all-state selections center Drew Drouilhet and cornerback Elliot Sperling.
“I know what it was like to lose Peyton Manning,” said Stewart, who’s in his 10th year as Newman’s head coach. “The first mindset we had back then that we have now is, ‘You can’t replace what we lost.’ What you do hope is that they help develop the culture in your program and the kids will have high expectations.
“We just have to build around our own strengths and not try to have our kids emulate them; just be who they are. Also, we say over and over, ‘Dream big; focus small.’ You keep the dream the same and focus on the details. That’s what we’re going to do.”
Newman’s mantra could be “We don’t rebuild; we reload.”
Directing the offense will be junior Miles Lapeyre, who filled in admirably last season for an injured Tyler, who’s now at Stanford. Lapeyre has a 7-1 record as a starter, and his 74 completion percentage set a school single-season record. He passed for 1,459 and 19 touchdowns.
“He sees the whole field, he is careful with the football, he has increased his arm strength and he’s very fast, so he’s a true multiple threat for us,” Stewart said.
“I got some very valuable experience that’s going to carry over to this year,” Lapeyre said. “It helped me a ton to mature as a player last year.”
Another significant player missing from a year ago is receiver Tyler Addison, who had nine touchdown catches. (He transferred to Class 5A Destrehan.) Like Tyler, Addison was sidelined with an injury for part of the season, and Elbert Thomas emerged as a leading receiver, earning all-district honors with 42 receptions for 745 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“We think he’s ready for an even bigger role,” Stewart said. “He’s ready to be that go-to receiver, playmaker type who we can build around offensively on the perimeter.”
“We have a lot of young talent, and we’re eager and ready to play,” Thomas said. “Miles has worked hard on his execution of the offense and takes pride in doing it.”
Sophomore running back James Poche is the heir apparent to Bussey, who’s now at Texas A&M.
“Poche is similar to Kendall in his ability to run between the tackles,” Stewart said. “He has deceptive speed, is athletic, catches the ball well out of the backfield and blocks well.”
Stewart hopes seniors Michael Favrot, Santi Sanchez and Matthew Ryan can help fill the void left by Drouilhet on the offensive line. Favrot (a two-way starter), Sanchez and sophomore Colton Davis all started last year.
Ryan (6-foot-3, 318 pounds), son of Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, has improved his offensive line play and will start on both lines.
The team’s strength figures to be the defensive front seven — especially the linebacking corps, where the Greenies return two seniors and a junior. That includes four-year starter Jack Miller, who needs seven tackles to become the school’s career leader.
In the secondary, senior Davis Charbonnet steps into the role of replacing Sperling as the lockdown corner. He will be joined by three sophomores.
Country Day Cajuns
Coach: Joe Chango (first season)
2014: 7-4, 5-1 in District 9-1A
Last playoff appearance: 2014 (lost to St. Edmund in Division IV select first round)
Looking back: The Cajuns won seven of their first eight but finished the season with three straight losses.
Moving forward: Offensive-minded Chango brings excitement to the program. The Cajuns will switch from the split back veer to the one-back spread that Chango employed as offensive coordinator at Jesuit.
Ask The Advocate: Country Day moves up to Class 2A and faces the formidable task of competing in District 12-2A against St. Charles Catholic, Riverside, Newman, West St. John and Sophie B. Wright. The Cajuns will field a lineup consisting of all seniors and juniors, including two-way performers Trey Harrell and Jase Griffin.
Projected starters on offense (one-back spread): QB Christian Kerut (6-0, 205, Jr.), *RB Jase Griffin (5-11, 185, Sr.), *WR Trey Harrell (5-11, 185, Sr.), *WR McColl Simon (6-1, 180, Sr.), WR Chandler Wynne (6-0, 180, Jr.), TE John Wagner (5-11, 195, Sr.), *OL Andre Ngyuen (5-11, 195, Sr.), OL Briggs Hamm (6-2, 230, Jr.), OL Kale Kileen (5-8, 160, Sr.), OL Avery Jenkins (5-9, 230, Jr.), OL William Nalty (6-0, 215, Jr.).
Projected starters on defense (3-4): DL Briggs Hamm (6-2, 230, Jr.), NG Michael Hickey (5-9, 200, Sr.), DL Brantley Mock (6-4, 215, Jr.), LB Jack White (5-9, 185, Jr.), LB Jake Gitter (6-0, 195, Jr.), *LB William Nalty (6-0, 215, Jr.), John Wagner (5-11, 195, Sr.), *DB Jase Griffin (5-11, 185, Sr.), *DB Trey Harrell (5-11, 185, Sr.), DB Chandler Wynne (6-0, 180, Jr.), *DB McColl Simon (6-1, 180, Sr.).
Sept. 4 at Lusher Charter
Sept. 11 Ben Franklin
Sept. 18 Episcopal
Sept. 25 at St. Martin’s
Oct. 2 at Pope John Paul
Oct. 9 West St. John#
Oct. 16 Sophie B. Wright#
Oct. 23 at Newman#
Oct. 30 at Riverside#
Nov. 6 St. Charles Catholic#
Coach: Nelson Stewart (74-31)
2014: 11-2, 6-1
Last playoff appearance: 2014 (lost to Catholic-New Iberia in Division III select semifinals)
Looking back: The Greenies reached the semifinals for the first time in 23 seasons.
Moving forward: The Greenies must replace four all-state players but do have 14 returning starters, including QB Miles Lapeyre, WR Elbert Thomas and OL/DL Matthew Ryan (6-3, 318).
Ask The Advocate: The defense should be able to hold its own with eight starters back, including six seniors. The team hopes to build off last year’s success but must face Riverside and St. Charles Catholic back-to-back weeks on the road.
Projected starters on offense (spread): QB Miles Lapeyre (5-11, 175, Jr.), RB James Poche (5-11, 180, So.), *WR Isaac Andry (5-9, 175, So.), *WR Elbert Thomas (6-2, 175, Sr.), *WR Chris Lane (5-10, 165, Jr.), WR Story Charbonnet (5-10, 155, So.), *OL Michael Favrot (6-5, 240, Sr.), *OL Colton Davis (6-2, 210, So.), *OL Santi Sanchez (5-11, 210, Sr.), OL Matthew Ryan (6-3, 318, Sr.), OL William He (5-9, 185, Sr.), OL Hutson Sumrall (5-7, 190, Jr.).
Projected starters on defense (4-3): *DL Michael Favrot (6-5, 240, Sr.), *DL Jack Reynolds (6-2, 195, Sr.), *DL Matthew Ryan (6-3, 318, Sr.), DL Ben Cohen (6-5, 300, Jr.), *LB Alex Abramson (5-9, 195, Sr.), *LB Jack Miller (6-0, 175, Sr.), *LB Kobe Porche (5-10, 170, Jr.), *DB Davis Charbonnet (5-11, 165, Sr.), *DB Cy Winsberg (5-8, 155, So.), DB Calder Schmidt (5-8, 160, So.), DB Jack Reynolds (6-2, 175, So.).
Sept. 4 McMain
Sept. 11 Riverdale
Sept. 18 at Pope John Paul
Oct. 2 Vandebilt Catholic
Oct. 9 at Riverside#
Oct. 16 at St. Charles Catholic#
Oct. 23 Country Day#
Oct. 30 Sophie B. Wright#
Nov. 6 West St. John#
Coach: Bill Stubbs (26-10 at Riverside, 171-52 overall)
2014: 12-1, 3-0
Last playoff appearance: 2014 (lost to Calvary Baptist in Division III select semifinals)
Looking back: In its season opener, Riverside served notice that it would be a force in 2014, winning at Evangel Christian. The Rebels finished 10-0 in the regular season and won two playoff games.
Moving forward: The Rebels enter the season without QB Jordan Loving, who’s out indefinitely with a back injury. Loving threw 40 touchdown passes last season. Sophomore Jared Butler has been moved from WR to QB. He will have support from playmaking WR Herb McGee and RB Brandon Sanders. The defense returns eight starters, including LB Evan Veron and DB Kendall Martin, both all-district performers.
Ask The Advocate: The prospects are good for another outstanding season. But the schedule is brutal: Predistrict games at John Ehret, vs. Parkview Baptist, at Hahnville and vs. Plaquemine could set the tone for the season, similar to the way the win at Evangel did last season.
Projected starters on offense (spread): QB Jared Butler (6-0, 175, So.), *RB Brandon Sanders (5-8, 185, Sr.), *RB DeAndre Wilson (5-11, 220, Sr.), RB Jeremy Gibson (5-10, 180, So.), *WR Herb McGee (6-1, 190, Sr.), WR Tyler Gauthier (5-10, 180, Sr.), WR Jalen Banks (6-3, 175, So.), WR Avonti Cannon (6-1, 190, Jr.), *OL Cameron Cook (6-0, 155, Jr.), *OL Drake Perret (6-1, 225, Jr.), OL Garrett Anders (5-9, 220, Sr.), OL Glen Bernard (6-1, 275, Jr.), OL Zachary Breaud (6-0, 250, Jr.), OL Mason Scioneaux (5-9, 240, So.).
Projected starters on defense (3-4): *DL Thaddeus Andry (6-3, 255, Jr.), *DL Freddy Means (5-10, 230, Jr.), DL Tyler Lewis (6-2, 240, Sr.), DL Errius Bradley (5-9, 190, Jr.), DL Le’Boe Bridges (6-0, 205, So.), *LB Evan Veron (6-1, 215, Sr.), *LB Harrison Heckathorn (5-10, 200, Jr.), LB Trey Catoire (5-9, 180, Jr.), LB Kobe Foster (5-10, 190, Jr.), LB Jared Hymel (6-0, 205, So.), *DB Kendall Martin (5-10, 175, Sr.), *DB JaJuan Bell (5-10, 175, Sr.), *DB Cardez Joseph (5-9, 170, Jr.), *DB Hardell Mack (5-9, 160, Jr.), DB Jordan Walker (5-10, 170, Sr.), DB Garland Robertson Jr. (5-9, 150, So.).
Sept. 4 at Ehret
Sept. 10 Parkview Baptist
Sept. 18 at Hahnville
Sept. 25 Plaquemine
Oct. 9 Newman#
Oct. 16 at West St. John#
Oct. 23 at St. Charles Catholic#
Oct. 30 Country Day#
Nov. 6 Sophie B. Wright#
Sophie B. Wright Warriors
Coach: Del Lee-Collins (first year)
2014: 3-8, 2-2
Last playoff appearance: 2014 (lost to Sterlington in first round)
Looking back: Despite a 3-7 regular-season record, the Warriors earned a berth in the Class 2A playoffs but were eliminated with a 52-14 loss in the first round.
Moving forward: Lee-Collins embarks on his first season as head coach and is implementing new offensive and defensive schemes. The Warriors will try to take advantage of their superior team speed but have only five starters returning.
Ask The Advocate: Senior QB Kevin Johnson and senior RB Larry Bridgewater will lead the offense, which has four returning starters. Only one starter, sophomore LB Rashad Hartford, returns on defense. Not only will the Warriors be playing in one of the toughest 2A districts in the state, but all five district games will be on the road.
Projected starters on offense (spread): *QB Kevin Johnson (6-1, 190, Sr.), *RB Larry Bridgewater (5-7, 140, Sr.), *WR DaiJon Landry (6-0, 190, Sr.), WR Dentrell Quinn (5-6, 140, So.), WR Alonzo Fletcher (5-7, 130, Fr.), *TE Taeon Watson (6-2, 190, Fr.), *OL Kenneth Hagans (6-3, 250, Sr.), OL Karabo Alexander (5-6, 225, Sr.), OL Jesse Williams (5-11, 180, Sr.), OL Andrew Lavalais (6-0, 210, So.), OL Calvin Celestine (5-8, 200, So.).
Projected starters on defense (4-2-5): DL Jamon Stephens (5-8, 205, Sr.), DL Dhan’dre Joseph (5-11, 190, So.), DL Andrew Lavalais (6-0, 210, So.), DL Arthur Smith (6-0, 165, Jr.), *LB Rashad Hartford (5-7, 180, So.), LB Deyroy Calloway (5-10, 195, Sr.), DB Ja-hid Sims (6-0, 160, Sr.), DB Tyron Wilson (5-10, 130, Sr.), DB Jamal Robinson (5-8, 163, Sr.), DB Darrius Jourdan (5-8, 150, Jr.), DB Terrel Belizeard (5-9, 140, So.).
Sept. 4 Crescent City
Sept. 11 at Morgan City
Sept. 18 at Loreauville
Oct. 2 at Warren Easton
Oct. 9 at St. Charles Catholic#
Oct. 16 at Country Day#
Oct. 23 at West St. John#
Oct. 30 at Newman#
Nov. 6 at Riverside#
St. Charles Catholic Comets
Coach: Frank Monica (142-53 at St. Charles, 228-71 overall)
2014: 9-3, 3-1 in District 11-3A
Last playoff appearance: 2014 (lost to Parkview Baptist in Division II select semifinals)
Looking back: With QB Austin Weber amassing more than 2,000 all-purpose yards, the Comets had another outstanding season. The team’s only losses of the regular season were a hard-fought 27-21 district defeat to John Curtis and a predistrict setback to Class 5A East Ascension.
Moving forward: Gone are Weber and RB Erron Lewis, replaced by senior QB Patrick Ratliff and senior RB Justin Loupe. Senior LT Tyrin Arceneaux, a Nicholls State commit, leads a small, inexperienced offensive line. On defense, tackle leader Justin DuBose and Tulane commit Eric Lewis return at DB.
Ask The Advocate: The defense and kicking game must carry the load early until the offense’s execution comes around. The defense returns eight starters but must solidify the defensive front.
Projected starters on offense (pro-style): QB Patrick Ratliff (6-0, 185, Sr.), RB Justin Loupe (6-1, 175, Sr.), FB Tyler Sandefer (5-9, 180, Jr.), *WR Dane Authement (5-10, 165, Jr.), WR Jacob Jensen (Sr.), WR Brady Becker (Sr.), WR Geoffrey Wagner (6-0, 158, Sr.), *TE Nick Scioneaux (6-4, 190, Jr.), *OL Tyrin Arceneaux (6-4, 298, Sr.), OL Don Chauvin (5-8, 180, Sr.), OL Kobie Houston (5-8, 240, Sr.), *OL John Campbell (5-11, 220, Sr.), OL Robert McDonald (6-3, 195, So.), OL Reed Jacob (5-9, 220, Sr.), OL Kyle Waguespack (Sr.).
Projected starters on defense (50): *DL Jonathan Scarpero (6-1, 215, Sr.), *DL Jaelon Gordon (6-3, 265, Sr.), *DL Austin Alberado (Sr.), *DL Trenton Matus (5-11, 195, Sr.), DL Nick Rollo (Jr.), *LB Trace Cortez (Sr.), *LB Wayne Revere (Sr.), LB Tevione Bigham (Sr.) *DB Eric Lewis (6-0, 185, Sr.), *DB Justin DuBose (5-10, 173, Sr.), *DB Justin Ory (Sr.), DB Jacoby Johnson (Sr.), DB Jayce Snowden (5-10, 165, Sr.), DB Devin Dumas (Jr.) .
Sept. 4 at Thibodaux
Sept. 11 at Thomas Jefferson
Sept. 18 Vandebilt Catholic
Sept. 25 Central
Oct. 2 at East Ascension
Oct. 9 Sophie B. Wright#
Oct. 16 Newman#
Oct. 23 Riverside#
Oct. 30 at West St. John#
Nov. 6 at Country Day#
West St. John Rams
Coach: Brandon Walters (first year)
2014: 10-3, 5-0 in District 8-1A
Last playoff appearance: 2014 (lost to Haynesville in Class 1A semifinals)
Looking back: The Rams easily captured the District 8-1A championship and advanced to the state semifinals before falling to eventual champion Haynesville 26-13.
Moving forward: Walters replaces Robert Valdez, who left for Class 5A Scotlandville in early August. Senior QB Jermoine Green (2,200 passing yards, 27 TDs), senior RB Lamore Boudoin (1,134 rushing yards, 16 TDs), and junior WR Jabari Walters (43 catches, 673 yards, seven TDs) lead the spread offense, which returns nine starters.
Ask The Advocate: Even though West St. John moves up to Class 2A, the Rams are extremely talented and will be competitive.
Projected starters on offense (spread): *QB Jermoine Green (5-9, 160, Sr.), *RB Lamore Boudoin (5-10, 171, Sr.), RB Austin Alexander (5-8, 160, Jr.), *WR Jabari Walters (5-11½, 170, Jr.), WR Jairin Johnson (6-0, 170, So.),*TE Daquan Frank (6-1, 181, Sr.), *OL Larenz Pierre (6-2, 250, Jr.), *OL Ryan Cannon (5-9, 250, Sr.), *OL Brett Bailey (5-10, 245, So.), *OL Kelon Gardner (5-10, 240, So.), *Quinbell Perilloux (6-2, 225, Sr.).
Projected starters on defense (3-3-5, 4-2-5): *DL Dante Gaudia (6-0, 225, Sr.), *Covan Barnes (6-0, 200, So.), *DL Kelon Gardner (5-10, 240, Sr.), *LB Nicholas Borne (5-11, 190, Sr.), *LB Devrin Johnson (5-9, 185, Jr.), LB Dustin Bethancourt (6-0, 200, Sr.), LB Wonzell Dumas (6-1, 180, Jr.), *DB Jamal Walters (5-10, 155, Jr.), *DB Kie’Ave Harry (5-8, 165, Sr.), *DB Trevon Borne (6-0, 175, Sr.), DB Marcus Boudoin (5-10, 175, Jr.).
Sept. 4 St. James
Sept. 11 at Donaldsonville
Sept. 18 Southern Lab
Sept. 25 at Kentwood
Oct. 2 at Woodlawn
Oct. 9 at Country Day#
Oct. 16 Riverside#
Oct. 23 Sophie B. Wright#
Oct. 30 St. Charles Catholic#
Nov. 6 at Newman#
* — returning starter; # — district game