Hard to believe there was a time Mandeville was 1-3 with a questionable defense.
The Skippers completed a five-game sweep of its October foes Friday with a commanding 41-7 victory against Northshore in their District 6-5A game at Panther Stadium.
“We just started trusting each other more,” Mandeville senior safety Koree Hollins said of the team’s winning streak, which started after a 35-19 loss to Ponchatoula in the district opener. “We were making a lot of simple mistakes, but we came together.
“We learned it’s all about fundamentals.”
Sophomore quarterback Joseph Bulovas threw for 295 yards and four touchdowns, three of them in a six-minute span of the second quarter for the Skippers (6-3, 5-1), who led 24-7 at halftime and never let Northshore (3-6, 1-5) past midfield in the second half until closing minutes.
During its streak, Mandeville outscored its five opponents 151-24.
“They were too good for us,” Northshore coach Mike Bourg said. “We just couldn’t make the plays we needed on offense, and they’re awfully hard to stop when they get it going.
“We didn’t help ourselves with so many missed tackles, but they were just better than we are.”
Missed tackles did aid in three of the Mandeville touchdowns, but it was also the communication between Bulovas and his receivers.
“He works so hard,” Skippers coach Guy Lecompte said of Bulovas. “He takes everything seriously and never takes any time off.
“He knows he’s got some work to do, but he has really improved.”
Bulovas started slowly- completing just two of his first six attempts for 11 yards and an interception.
But once the Skippers went to a hurry-up offense, things heated up in a hurry.
A 73-yard scoring pass to Parker Orgeron, who broke three tackles after catching the ball at the Panthers’ 40, started things.
Northshore countered with its own big play — Matt Benedict and K.J. Hopkins teaming on a 62-yard TD pass.
But Bulovas ended Mandeville’s next two possessions with TD pass of 8 yards to Brand Moisant and 42 to Tyler Parker.
Over the course of those three possessions, Bulovas was 7-8 for 195 yards.
Another big gainer — this one going 33 yards to Connor Lockhart — helped the Skippers reach the Northshore 13 just before halftime, but Mandeville had to settle for a 34-yard field goal by Parker Pastorello that made it 24-0.
Bulovas and Orgeron teamed for a 25-yard TD reception in the third quarter, and Pastorello added a 32-yard field goal before Hollins ended the scoring with a 66-yard interception return.
“We make our offense better every day in practice,” Hollins said. “We’re a pretty good defense right now.”
Mandeville closes the regular season Friday at Covington. Barring Hammond knocking off Ponchatoula, the Skippers cannot share the district title as they did a year ago, but a victory would give them home field in the first round of the playoffs.
“There’s going to be a lot of energy against Covington,” Hollins said. “And we want to be at home for the playoffs.
“We always knew we could turn this around.”