There’s no doubt that a high school coach is important to his team’s success.
There’s also no doubt that having the same guy around year after year leads to continuity, which in many cases breeds success — in one way or another.
St. Martin’s Episcopal seeks that sort of steady hand, and it may have found it in Scott Simpson.
The third coach in three years to lead the Saints, Simpson is a New Orleans native. He’s a graduate of Brother Martin and had been an assistant coach at his alma mater as well as at Jesuit. He spent the past 14 years at Holy Cross, where he was offensive coordinator.
In other words, the 45-year-old looks to be just the kind of coach St. Martin’s seeks: one who could stick around for a while. He said the players have responded well to him and his system this summer, and he believes the team can improve on the 5-5 record it posted in 2014.
This will be Simpson’s first head coaching job.
“I’ve been very impressed with the kids so far,” he said. “They’ve had to learn new systems, and there has been no consistency. But as far as them buying in to what we’re doing, there hasn’t been one problem with that. They don’t use it as an excuse.”
Hayden Nugent, a senior who plays on both the offensive and defensive lines, said he and his teammates had a chance to meet the coaching applicants during the hiring process. Nugent said they were especially fond of Simpson.
“You want a coach to stay around, and everyone is adjusting well,” Nugent said. “When we met (Simpson), we thought he was the best fit.”
Kevin Bird, a senior linebacker and tight end, agreed.
“It’s been a little different, but everyone was able to learn something from the different head coaches we’ve had,” he said. “They each gave us something to think about. Really, I think it helped us come together as a team. The coaches may have changed, but we still had each other.”
That sort of bond led Brett Pfefferle to go out for the team this year. He played football as a youngster and in eighth grade, and he decided to return for his sophomore season. He’s now the Saints’ starting quarterback.
“I saw the excitement from the stands,” he said. “I liked the atmosphere. I figured I could help. I play baseball and basketball, too. The coaches told me they want me to use my athleticism outside the pocket. I’m looking forward to it.”
One thing the Saints look forward to each year is a contest against Country Day. The longtime District 8-1A rival has moved up to Class 2A, but the familiar foes will play a nondistrict game Sept. 25.
“We’re happy to play them,” Bird said. “We love to compete against them. Even though they’re not in our district anymore, it’s no different. The objective is to win.”
The St. Martin’s players and coaches believe they can do that this year. To do so, they’ll have to tangle with Covenant Christian and Houma Christian, which finished in a three-way tie with Country Day for the district crown last season. The Saints will run a spread offense and a 4-2-5 defense.
“You get your assignments, and you get things done,” junior running back Hakeem Blackstone said.
Nugent said that’s the plan for the entire team.
“I think we can get above .500,” he said. “There are a lot of young guys who have stepped up this summer, and they are ready.”
Covenant Christian Lions
Coach: Randy Bouquet
2014: 7-4, 5-1
Last time in playoffs: 2014 (lost to Ouachita Christian in Division IV select first round)
Looking back: Led by RB Jordan McKay, the Lions finished in a three-way tie for first in the district with Houma Christian and Country Day.
Moving forward: The Lions must replace McKay but return seven starters on offense and five on defense.
Ask The Advocate: With Country Day up in 2A, the Lions could be in the mix for another district title after scoring their first title in school history last year.
Projected starters on offense: QB Dylan Shape (Sr.), FB Devyn Allen (Sr.), WB Marquel Daigle (Sr.), WB Callan Bourg (Sr.), SE Devonte Johnson (So.), T Sashen Stadium (Sr.), G Hunter Landry (Jr.), C Ryan Daigle (Sr.), G Mason Kilgore (Jr.), T Jordan Friloux (Jr.), TE Caleb Seitz (Jr.).
Projected starters on defense: DL Sashen Staidum (Sr.), DL Jordan Friloux (Jr.), DL Mason Kilgore (Jr.), TE Caleb Seitz (Jr.), LB Devyn Allen (Sr.), LB Callan Bourg (Sr.), LB Hunter Landry (Jr.), CB Peyton Ross (So.), CB Marquel Daigle (Sr.), SS Devonte Johnson (So.), FS Cameron Solet (Jr.).
Sept. 4 Westminster Christian
Sept. 11 at Hannan
Sept. 18 at Gueydan
Sept. 25 at Vandebilt Catholic
Oct. 2 Catholic-Pointe Coupee
Oct. 9 at Ridgewood#
Oct. 16 at Varnado#
Oct. 23 at St. Martin’s#
Oct. 30 Houma Christian#
Nov. 6 Crescent City#
Crescent City Pioneers
Coach: Nick Walker (first year)
2014: 2-7, 2-5
Looking back: The Pioneers started 0-5 but ended on a somewhat positive note, winning two of their last four.
Moving forward: Walker, a Shaw alum, looks to get the program going in the right direction after replacing Eros Sanchez, who resigned after one season.
Ask The Advocate: Walker knows it’s not a quick fix, but equalling the victory total from a season ago looks attainable.
Projected starters on offense: T Jacob Mayeaux, T Alvin Sholtz, G John Brown, G Jaylan Stewart, G Paul Leto, G Anthony Mailspin, C Ashton Peters, WR Blake Fisher, WR Tyler Houllion, WR Joseph Authement, WR Percy Young, QB Dajuan Peters, RB Brandon Watkins.
Projected starters on defense: DE Jake Hurwitz, DT Jacob Mayeaux, NG John Brown, LB Chris Aguilar, LB Blake Fisher, LB Harry Brown, DB Devaughn Johnson, DB Jorden Hurwitz, EB Emmanuel Fleischer, DB Percy Young, DB Aiden Dailet.
Sept. 4 Sophie B. Wright
Sept. 11 at Ascension Christian
Sept. 18 Centerville
Sept. 25 at Albany
Oct. 9 at Varnado#
Oct. 16 at St. Martin’s#
Oct. 23 Houma Christian#
Oct. 30 at Ridgewood#
Nov. 6 at Covenant Christian#
Ecole Classique Spartans
Coach: Maurice Gernhauser
2014: 0-6, 0-6
Last time in playoffs: 2011 (lost in first round)
Looking back: The Spartans totaled just seven touchdowns last season playing all district games.
Moving forward: The team will only play a non-district slate this year. The 19-man roster is young, with just two seniors.
Ask The Advocate: Gernhauser’s goal is to get some wins to generate some interest in the program. A couple of games against JV foes could help.
Projected starters on offense: QB Tyler Roberts (5-9, 155, Sr.), FB Nemo Bradley (5-10, 240, Sr.), RB Cordell Labore (6-0, 160, So.), RB Kobi Becker (5-6, 150, So.), WR Myles Gullage (6-0, 140, Jr.), WR Coby Ney (5-6, 135, Jr.), OL Ryan Williams (5-5, 180, Jr.), OL Albert Phillips (5-7, 185, Fr.), C Braulio Rodriguez (5-7, 180, So.), OL Caleb Calopy (5-6, 180, So.), OL Christian Huye (6-2, 225, Jr.).
Projected starters on defense: DL Braulio Rodriguez (5-7, 180, So.), DL Albert Phillips (5-7, 185, Fr.), DE Albert Phillips (5-7, 185, Fr.), DL Adonay Munoz (5-7, 200, So.), DE Hank Mortellaro (5-6, 150, Fr.), LB Ryan Williams (5-5, 180, Jr.), LB Nemo Bradley (5-10, 240, Sr), DB Tyler Roberts (5-9, 155, Sr.), DB Cordell Labore (6-0, 160, So.), DB Kobi Becker (5-6, 150, So.), DB Austin Norman (5-2, 110, So.).
Sept. 11 at Ridgewood
Sept. 19 Thomas Jefferson JV
Oct. 2 St. Martin’s
Oct. 10 at Haynes JV
Oct. 16 Ben Franklin
Oct. 23 Ascension Christian
Houma Christian Warriors
Coach: Chuck Battaglia (18-22)
2014: 6-5, 5-1
Last time in playoffs: 2014 (lost to Vermilion Catholic in Division IV select first round)
Looking back: The team squeezed into the playoffs as the No. 16 seed after a stunning upset of Country Day on a last-second field goal that forced a three-way tie in district play.
Moving forward: The Warriors lost some key pieces but return four starters on offense and five on defense. The kicking game looks to be solid with the return of Sam Trosclair.
Ask The Advocate: The Warriors surprised many last season, and playmakers like Devin Battaglia could put team in the mix again.
Projected starters on offense (spread triple option): QB Damien Pennison (So.), C Luke Chamberlain (Jr.), G Justin Bonvillain (Jr.), RB Efferem Moore (Jr.), WR Devin Battaglia (Sr.), WR Justin Medina (So.), WR Zacharia Trujillo (Fr.), WR Je’Coire Ward (So.).
Projected starters on efense (4-3): DE Jaques LeMaire (Sr.), DT Kyle Roberts (Jr.), DT Isiah Parfait (Fr.), DE Blake Dufrene (Jr.), LB Sam Trosclair (Sr.), LB Kaleb Eschette (Jr.); CB Devin Battaglia (Sr.), CB Di’vvon Carter (Jr.), S Zacharia Trujillo (Fr.), S Justin Medina (So.).
Sept. 4 at Highland Baptist
Sept. 11 at False River
Sept. 17 at Sacred Heart
Sept. 25 Ben Franklin
Oct. 2 at Ascension Christian
Oct. 9 St. Martin’s#
Oct. 19 at Ridgewood#
Oct. 23 at Crescent City#
Oct. 30 at Covenant Christian#
Nov. 6 Varnado#
Ridgewood Prep Eagles
Coach: Norman Ryan (15 seasons)
2014: 1-8, 1-5
Last time in playoffs: 2013
Looking back: The Eagles’ lone win was a 40-21 victory over winless Ecole Classique.
Moving forward: The Eagles bring a four-game losing streak into the season. The team is new once again, with RB/LB Brian Rosh and DB Xavier Soto the only senior starters.
Ask The Advocate: Youthful Ridgewood likely will have more growing pains.
Projected starters on offense: TE Caleb McCollough (8th), SE Carmron Schwartz (Jr.), T Jack McConnell (Jr.), G Blageins Doyle (Jr.), C Hunter Burgess (So.), G Sean Ohler (So.), T Jordan Alexander (So.), QB Xavier Soto (Sr.), RB Brian Rosh (Sr.), Jordan Rillex (So.).
Projected starters on defense: DE Aigad Anbar (Fr.), DE Jaggaer Jaber (So.), DT Hunter Burgess (So.), DT Jack McConnell (Jr.), LB Brian Rosh (Sr.), LB Sean Ohler (So.), LB Blageins Doyle (Jr.), DB Dane Landie, DB Xavier Soto (Sr.), DB Cameron Schwapik (Jr.).
Sept. 4 Ben Franklin
Sept. 11 Ecole Classique
Sept. 18 Ascension Christian
Sept. 25 Haynes Academy
Oct. 2 TBA
Oct. 9 Covenant Christian#
Oct. 19 Houma Christian#
Oct. 23 Varnado#
Oct. 30 Crescent City#
Nov. 6 St. Martin’s#
St. Martin’s Saints
Coach: Scott Simpson
2014: 5-5, 3-3
Last time in playoffs: 2013 (lost to Central Catholic in Division IV select first round)
Looking back: Under then-first-year coach Lester Ricard, the season was highlighted by a three-game winning streak. The offense scored 35 or more points three times, and the defense held four opponents to six points or fewer.
Moving forward: Simpson takes over as the third coach in as many seasons. Brett Pfefferle takes over as quarterback and will lead the spread attack.
Ask The Advocate: The Saints have won five games in each of the past two seasons (5-6 in 2013) and have a chance to get to at least six this season and possibly return to the playoffs for the first time in two years. How well Pfefferle settles in at QB will be key.
Projected starters on offense: LT Hayden Nugent (Sr.), LG Stephen Sandel (Sr.), C Jakob Castaneda (Jr.), RG Gershom Thompson (Jr.), RT Garrett Kalogiratos (So.), H-Back Kevin Byrd (Sr.), QB Brett Pfefferie (So.), RB Hakeem Blackstone (Jr.), WR Dylan Bryan (Jr.), WR Christian Rice (Jr.), WR Hampton Davis (Sr.).
Projected starters on defense: DE Hayden Nugent (Sr.), DE Garrett Kalogiratos (So.), DT Gershom Thompson (Jr.), DT Jakob Castaneda (Jr.), LB Tyler Falk (Jr.), LB Hakeem Blackstone (Jr.), DB Austin Chamorro (Jr.), DB Kevin Bird (Sr.), DB Dylan Bryan (Jr.), DB Christian Rice (Jr.), DB Hampton Davis (Sr.).
Sept. 5 at Thomas Jefferson
Sept. 11 Fisher
Sept. 18 at Hannan
Sept. 25 Country Day
Oct. 2 at Ecole Classique
Oct. 9 at Houma Christian#
Oct. 16 at Crescent City#
Oct. 30 at Varnado#
Nov. 2 at Ridgewood#
Coach: Scott Shaffett (fourth season)
2014: 5-6, 1-3 in District 6-1A
Last time in playoffs: 2014 (lost to West St. John in second round)
Looking back: The Wildcats finished fourth in District 6-1A but still managed to win a playoff game.
Moving forward: The Wildcats move into a new district and return plenty of starters, including dangerous QB Delroderick Jefferson, who took over last season when Delrick Adams went down.
Ask The Advocate: With 17 starters returning (nine on offense, eight on defense), opponents may find the Wildcats to be a tough addition to the district.
Projected starters on offense: QB Delroderick Jefferson (Sr.), WB Delrick Adams (Sr.), WB Nick Darden (Sr.), WB Tyrandus Crosby, (Sr.), FB Travon Stokes (Jr.), T Nick Blackburn (Sr.), G Jermaine Sanders (Sr.), G Kyle Slocum (Sr.), T Xavier Moses, C Jedarrell Magee (So.), WR Armontee Kemp (So.), WR James Williams (So.).
Projected starters on defense: DT Kyle Slocum (Sr.), DT Jaylen Jefferson (Jr.), DE Andre Jones (Jr.), DE Jonathan Green (So.), LB Damon Kirsh (Jr.), LB Desmond Harry (So.), LB Travon Stokes (Jr.), LB Darian Vargas (So.), CB Armontee Kemp (Jr.), CB Tyrandus Crosby (Sr.), FS Delrick Adams (Jr.).
Sept. 4 St. Patrick
Sept. 11 at Pine
Sept. 18 at Berwick
Sept. 25 at Catholic-Pointe Coupee
Oct. 2 South Plaquemines
Oct. 9 Crescent City#
Oct. 16 Covenant Christian#
Oct. 23 at Ridgewood#
Oct. 30 St. Martin’s#
Nov. 6 at Houma Christian#
# — district game