When Catholic High-New Iberia comes to town, there is no shortage of quarterbacking experience on the team buses.
Head coach Keith Menard, a quarterback at Nicholls State University from 1981-84, has guided the Panthers to a 3-1 record and a No. 10 ranking in Class 2A. The team has a second source of knowledge in offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Michael Desormeaux, a former CHSNI player who played the position for the University of Louisiana at Lafayette from 2004-08.
“Mike coming off playing college football has brought some new ideas and refreshing things to the offense,” Menard said. “Being former quarterbacks has helped us being together.”
Desormeaux’s insight contributed to Menard doing something for the first time in his coaching career that has included coaching Sacred Heart-Ville Platte, Central and Many.
“This is the first time in my career I haven’t called plays on Friday nights,” Menard said.
“Michael has a great rapport with our young quarterbacks. I’m learning not to be the play caller. If I give a guy a title, I’m going to let him do the job. He has taken that title and done great.”
One beneficiary has been junior Panthers quarterback Joe Lissard, who has completed 63 of 112 passes for 866 yards with nine touchdowns and six interceptions.
The offense has grown along with Lissard. After falling 14-13 to Teurlings Catholic in the season opener, the Panthers have scored 35, 32 and 29 points in victories.
“Experience at the quarterback position is something you have to have,” Menard said. “Joe started 11 games last year. He is a tough kid and he made some plays. Now, our protection is better and he is more comfortable.”
Lissard has managed to get comfortable in the pocket while gaining some spring in his step. The main targets for Lissard have been Rhett Gonsoulin (11 catches for 222 yards and four TDs) and Blake Byrom (17 catches, 281 yards and four TDs).
Lissard and his receivers have been helped by a Panthers defense that has forced 15 turnovers. Menard said winning the turnover battle will be critical when Catholic hosts Notre Dame (2-2)?Friday.
“Anytime you face a quality football team like Notre Dame, you have to sustain drives and be patient,” Menard said. “We can’t get impatient because the moment you do that, they (the Pioneers) cause a turnover and make something for themselves.”
On the road again
Breaux Bridge, 4-0 and ranked second in Class 4A, will finish a three-game road swing when the Tigers travel to Baton Rouge to play Class 5A Woodlawn (2-2)?Friday night.
“Our first away game was Comeaux, so that was not a long trip,” said Breaux Bridge coach Paul Broussard. “Going to Hammond and Woodlawn are more challenging trips. We have good senior leadership and are ready to handle it. Hopefully, if you get to the playoffs, you learn from it.”
Breaux Bridge pitched shutouts against Comeaux and Hammond while having to make an adjustment offensively because of injury. Running back Darrian Thomas suffered a broken leg against Hammond, so the Tigers are also deploying linebacker Lamar Louis, an LSU commitment, at running back.
Fellow LSU commitments Travin Dural and Kavahra Holmes have helped spark the offense through four games. Dural has nine carries for 126 yards and a touchdown in addition to notching 14 catches for 214 yards and six more scores through the air. Holmes has five catches for 106 yards and two touchdowns.