MANDEVILLE — They weren’t expected to man their current posts, but they’re there now — and, at least in part, that’s why Mandeville High football is where it is right now.
“Without these guys, I don’t know where we’d be,’’ said Skippers offensive line coach Daniel Camp about his two tackles Hogan Crosby and Kiegan Marek. “I think we might be up the proverbial creek.’’
Instead, Mandeville (9-2) is still playing through the Class 5A playoffs, meeting Catholic High (9-2) Friday night at Sidney Theriot Stadium.
“They are a good part of the reason we’re here,’’ Camp said.
Crosby (6-foot-1, 205 pounds), who was a defensive lineman a year ago, started the season at offensive tackle and got called into action as a tight end-receiver in the third game.
The one time Crosby didn’t hold down the tackle spot was just before halftime in the third game against East Ascension — a 27-26 victory — when he heard his name called.
Injuries caused coach Guy LeCompte to send Crosby into the dressing room to change jerseys, going from No. 58 to No. 8 to be eligible to catch passes. It was a role LeCompte knew Crosby, a good all-around athlete, could play. In a preseason scrimmage against Shaw Crosby caught an 8-yard touchdown pass — a play he still remembers with a wide smile.
“It didn’t really count for anything,’’ Crosby said, “but it was fun . . . kind of let me feel like I was playing a glamour spot.’’
Camp said Crosby was Mandeville’s player of the week against East Ascension — not for anything he did at receiver but for his play in the line, opening holes for the Skipper backs and protecting quarterback Glen Cuiellette.
“He graded out very high,’’ Camp said. “It was an indication of what kind of player he is.’’
At the start of season, no one could say what kind of player Marek would be. He spent last year removed from football.
Marek was suffering from migraine headaches. The day before the 2011 opener with Parkview Baptist, his doctor recommended Kiegan stop playing football. His family concurred. In an effort to stay close to the game, the unhappy youngster approached LeCompte.
“I begged coach to at least let me sit on the sidelines at practices and games, to just let me do whatever needed to be done for the team and my teammates,’’ Marek said
What that turned out to be was assisting the training staff, helping injured teammates off the field and carrying equipment to wherever it needed to be. “I was the heavy lifter,’’ Marek chuckled at the memory.
In time, the headaches subsided. Kiegan talked the situation over with his dad and his doctor, then finally was cleared to hit the field again.
“I’m really happy to be back,’’ he said.
The Skippers are, too. Crosby and Merek have been pillars in the Skippers’ return to the quarterfinals in what was expected to be a major rebuilding season. They’ve protected Cuiellette, who has completed 143 of 253 passes for 1,942 yards, 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions and opened holes for backs like leading rusher Nate VanHorn, who has 94 carries 486 yards and three touchdowns.
Zach Boudreaux is the top receiver with 53 catches for 942 yards and eight touchdowns.
“These guys are really a big part of why we progressed to where we are,’’ Camp said. “A big part.’’