Editor's note: This is the 10th preview in a 30-day series highlighting high school football teams in the Acadiana area. Up next are the Vermilion Catholic Eagles.
WHAT WE KNOW
Putting it simply, the Eagles should be really good this fall.
Exactly how many games Vermilion Catholic wins and how close they come to winning a Division IV state championship, remains to be seen. But on paper, coach Kevin Fouquier’s bunch is loaded with ability and experience.
On offense, coordinator Travis Blaize has nine returning starters and the 12 expected to get the most playing time all started games on one side of the ball last fall. That list is led by junior quarterback Drew Lege, who has been starting games since his freshman season. This past 7-on-7 season made it clear Lege is even further along.
Making his life easier will be the seasoned performers around him. In front of Lege are five returning starters on the offensive line.
Behind him is an experienced running back in senior Moe Maxile, who is talented as a rusher and receiver.
Then on either side of him, there are two returning starters at wide receiver in Camden Sellers and Collin Broussard. Even the two nonstarters — Saul Dartez and Blair Turner — got plenty of playing time as reserves in 2018.
And while it’s true many of the names are the same, that typically works just fine at the Class 1A level. Still, seven starting spots on defense will be filled by returning starters.
The interior of the defensive front will be anchored by two-way starter Felix Joseph and Alex Sanders.
Sure the linebacking corps must find a new starter, but that unit features stalwarts in seniors Jacques Touchet and Andre LeBlanc.
The defense also returns both starters at cornerback in two-way starters Broussard and Turner. There won’t be much time for Maxile and Turner to rest, manning return game spots in addition to being two-way starters.
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW
When the biggest question mark going into a season for a team is the health of the squad, it’s a pretty good sign that success is likely around the corner.
But there are a few things Vermilion Catholic must answer. As experienced as the team is, the Eagles have to replace last year’s leading rusher in Kalix Broussard and leading receiver in Ethan Lege. Maxile got enough playing time to qualify as a returning starter as the offense’s easy top candidate to lead the team in rushing.
But it’s anyone’s best guess which of the receivers will be the Eagles’ leading receiver.
One position with a new starter is senior tight end Kyle Romero. Of course when you’re most unseasoned performer is a 6-foot-3, 196-pound two-way starter, no one is shedding any tears for that question mark.
On defense, it’s going to be Romero attempting to provide the solution again as one of two new starters at defensive end. The other is wide receiver Sellers, who will give it a try as a pass rusher at 5-7, 180.
The early-season schedule could also qualify as an unknown for the Eagles, who open with Catholic High of New Iberia. Last year’s matchup with Opelousas Catholic was a tight one and then September ends with at short road trip to Kaplan.
HOW WE SEE IT
It’s possible the Eagles could lose a couple games early on with the perennial playoff contenders on their schedule, but all signs point to Vermilion Catholic being a state title contender.
Put it this way, in the back of the minds of the coaching staff is a priority of establishing a better rushing attack — just in case the state finals aren’t played indoors and bad weather affects the style of play.
The truth is in this split postseason era of 2019, even a few early losses would do little to derail VC’s postseason seed.
As long as the Eagles don’t have more than two losses in the first half, there’s no Lafayette Christian on the district schedule this season. Every league foe the second half of the season will be big underdogs. So VC should run away with the league race and we'll see what their playoff matchups look like in early November.
Sept. 6: at Catholic-New Iberia
The special matchup for the Eagles this season may be Sept. 30 in Week 3 when Vermilion Catholic hosts crosstown rival Abbeville High for the first time. That should create quite a buzz in town and make for a huge crowd, but in the big picture the season-opening trip to Catholic-New Iberia is bigger on the statewide level.
Considering the reputation of both programs, both teams should be ranked in the preseason state polls. Both have state titles in recent memory. Both win double-digit games almost every season. Both team sports one of the top quarterbacks in the Acadiana area in VC's Drew Lege and Catholic's Trey Amos. Both have head coaches who have coached college football. Both have plenty of experience back on defense, which could add intrigue to such an early-season matchup.
While Craig Brodie is on the Catholic staff, his son Cory is a new member of VC's coaching staff.
It would be difficult for a 1A coaching staff to be more star-studded than Vermilion Catholic’s list of coaches. Fouquier is a former collegiate defensive coordinator. Blaize is the son of legendary Vermilion Parish coach Ossie Blaize. Eric LeBlanc is one of the top rushers in VC’s history. Bobby McDonald was a star quarterback at Franklin and played at Nicholls State. Former Abbeville High standout Travin Moore was one of Vermilion Parish’s best high school football players. John Thompson is also one of VC’s best all-time players and played college football.
Brodie Savoie played for legendary coach Lewis Cook at Notre Dame and newcomer Cory Brodie is the son of Craig Brodie — a former head coach who has won state titles at multiple programs as a defensive coordinator.
QB Drew Lege, 6-2, 193, Jr
He’s gotten bigger and stronger, suddenly approaching 200 pounds while breaking school weightlifting records for his position. His experience should allow him to be more masterful in his understanding of the offense, allowing him to complete passes in smaller windows. He may not have a clear No. 1 receiving target this season but that may not matter.
LB Jacques Touchet, 6-1, 220, Sr
Touchet established himself as the leader of the Eagles’ defense in the spring game. His hard work in the weight room makes him possibly the strongest player on the team and his 3.87 GPA helps him be the playcaller on the defensive line. He played some outside linebacker last year, but is more suited for stuffing up the middle.
RB/SS, Moe Maxile, 5-6, 155, Sr.
Fouquier admires Maxile's understanding of the game and athletic ability, so Maxile better get hydrated whenever possible. His open-field running ability should give nightmares to opposing defenses. After playing some cornerback last fall, he’ll start a strong safety this season. Maxile is also expected to play a big role in the return game.
LB/RB, Andre LeBlanc, 5-7, 180, Sr.
With a "coach’s kid" understanding of the game, LeBlanc picks up any changes quickly. He moves to linebacker for his senior season after some time of strong safety. Dedicated to being a leader, making all 28 of his workout opportunities this summer. Will also be the back end of VC’s 1-2 rushing punch with Maxile.
WR/DE, Camden Sellers, 5-7, 180, Sr
Sellers is a returning starter at wide receiver and likely the best candidate to emerge as the No. 1 receiving option for QB Drew Leger. On the defensive side, however, the coaches are trying Sellers at defensive end to take advantage of his combination of speed and strength. Being his first time on defense, the early going at end could be a transition.
Head coach: Kevin Fouquier
13 OPELOUSAS CATHOLIC
18 HIGHLAND BAPTIST*
1 Covenant Christian
8 Central Catholic*
*--denotes district game
HOME GAMES ALL CAPS
Beat LOREAUVILLE 45-6
Beat OPELOUSAS CATHOLIC 26-23
Beat Erath 34-11
Beat HANSON 36-0
Beat Centerville 34-6
Beat E.D. White 27-20
Beat Gueydan 43-14
Lost Lafayette Christian 54-21
Beat HIGHLAND BAPTIST 61-6
Beat CENTRAL CATHOLIC 44-0
Beat CEDAR CREEK 48-13
Beat ST. FREDERICK 50-0
Lost Ascension Catholic 37-13
LAST FIVE SEASONS
Key losses: WR Ethan Lege, RB Kalix Broussard, WR Garrett Wiggins, LB Nick Choate, LB-TE Kayl Bengston.
Base offense: Spread
Base defense: Multiple
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
WR Camden Sellers (5-7, 180, Sr)*
WR Saul Dartez (5-11, 142, Jr)
WR Collin Broussard (5-8, 170, Sr)*
WR Blair Turner (5-8, 140, Jr)
OT Felix Joseph (6-2, 220, Sr)*
OG Jacques Hulin (5-10, 180, Jr)*
C Collin Mier (5-8, 268, Sr)*
OG Brayden Broussard (5-9, 180, Sr)
OT Paul Moresi (6-0, 202, Sr)*
QB Drew Lege (6-2, 193, Jr)*
RB Moe Maxile (5-6, 155, Sr)*
DE Camden Sellers (5-7, 180, Sr)
DT Felix Joseph (6-2, 220, Sr)*
DT Alex Sanders (54-10, 170, Sr)*
DE Kyle Romero (6-3, 196, Sr)
LB Andre LeBlanc (5-7, 180, Sr)*
LB Jacques Touchet (6-1, 220, Sr)*
LB Andre Bertrand (6-0, 175, Sr)
CB Blair Turner (5-8, 140, Sr)*
CB Collin Broussard (5-8, 170, Sr)*
SS Moe Maxile (5-6, 155, Sr)*
FS Andrew Marceaux (5-9, 170, Sr)
*--denotes returning starter