Coaches, especially the ones who prioritize the running game, often shrug at the meaningfulness of 7-on-7s.
The game is, and will always be, won and lost in the trenches.
But the extra reps for skill position players certainly don’t hurt, and some of the Acadiana area’s better quarterbacks were on display during Wednesday’s portion of the Quick Slants 7-on-7 tournament at St. Thomas More.
The Acadiana Advocate spoke to a handful of coaches from local small schools Wednesday to get a glimpse into what their team’s passing games could offer. Here are some takeaways:
Notre Dame’s Broussard looks smooth
Lewis Cook has built a culture with the Notre Dame football program where players often have to wait until their junior or senior years to become starters or even contribute.
So every year, the Pios don’t feature many returning starters. Having one at quarterback is an especially nice luxury for Cook. What’s even rarer for Notre Dame is having a second-year passer who has an opportunity to lead a repeat.
Enter Ben Broussard.
The rising senior helped the Pios avenge the 2017 title game loss to Catholic-New Iberia by combining for 136 total yards and two touchdowns in the 2018 Superdome meeting against the Panthers, a 42-21 win.
A seven-on-seven format doesn’t allow Broussard to showcase his best asset, his legs, but he’s a true dual-threat. It was easy to see that as he calmly delivered passes with touch and accuracy in their first matchup Wednesday against North Central.
Because of Broussard’s running ability, Cook is even entertaining the idea of using Broussard as a slotback later in the season and inserting junior Parker Seilhan at quarterback.
“It’s really nice to have that year under your belt,” Cook said of Broussard. “At this time last year I’m explaining everything. I’m just calling the play now. You can see his confidence level is up.
"He always was a good passer. We didn’t have to throw it that much last year, but when we did he was pretty efficient.”
Loreauville’s Alexander moving around
It seems like Loreauville’s Zy Alexander has been in high school for 10 years based on how long I’ve been covering him.
But when you’re as talented as Alexander is and you’ve started at quarterback since you were a freshman, your name gets thrown around plenty.
The funny thing is, Alexander’s name didn’t get mentioned much last year after he was sidelined by a broken collar bone on the first drive of the second game of the season.
It was a rough season overall for the Tigers, as they won just one game in a transition year for first-year coach Terry Martin.
Despite the lost season, Alexander’s athleticism has helped him draw the attention of college recruiters — including scholarship offers from Southeastern Louisiana, Northwestern State and Mississippi College.
Martin plans to put that athleticism to use during Alexander’s senior season.
Although Martin said he’ll play primarily quarterback, the left-hander will see some snaps at wide receiver, a position where he tallied four touchdowns as an eighth grader.
He did that Wednesday during the Quick Slants tournament, throwing and catching scores during the games I observed. Sophomore Caleb Jacob goes under center when Alexander is split out wide.
Alexander actually practiced at wide receiver during the week leading up to his injury in Week 2 last year, including a one-handed catch that wowed Martin like never before.
“I never had a chance to experiment with him (at receiver last year),” Martin said. “But I told him when I got the job, ‘I’m going to put you out there some.’ Because he’s a mismatch for a lot of people. Just throw it up there.”
VC’s Lege growing physically
Vermilion Catholic’s Drew Lege is another quarterback who seems to have been playing high school football for a decade. But unlike Alexander, he’s entering his junior year.
Lege started four games when his older brother, JT, went down with an injury before later returning during the first of two straight runs to the Division IV semifinals.
When he took over the full-time starting role as a sophomore, he showed his immense potential, throwing for more than 3,000 yards and 27 touchdowns while completing 63 percent of his passes.
Physically, he’s starting to look the part of a quarterback that may have a future beyond high school. He’s nearing 6 feet, 2 inches and 190 pounds, Eagles coach Kevin Fouquier said.
“He’s still a puppy. He’s just 16 years old and is just going to be a junior,” Fouquier said. “He’s still got another growth spurt, so he’s going to be a big kid and a strong kid. He can make all the throws.”
Erath’s LeBlanc leading inexperienced group
Erath second-year coach Eric LeBlanc said the Bobcats set 28 school records for offense last year — 16 of which came from quarterback Luke LeBlanc. That included the big four passing categories: attempts, completions, yards and touchdowns.
Luke’s top receiver, all-state pick Matt Domingues, is gone, as well as four other senior receivers, but Luke is back for his senior year after throwing for more than 2,000 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Despite so much inexperience at the skill positions, Eric said his offense is picking up where it left off at the end of last year.
Eric describes the beginning of last year as a “culture shock” for his offensive players — the Bobcats lost their first five regular-season games before winning four of their final five and reaching the playoffs — but even the first-year starters have a year in the system under their belt.
And with an even-keeled player like Luke under center, Eric is confident in his offense entering the 2019 season.
“Luke is the most straight-and-narrow guy that we’ve got,” Eric said. “He’s level-headed at all times, whether we’re up by 40 or down by 40.”