After a 10-3 season and the school’s first state semifinals berth since 1989 last season, Brother Martin football coach Mark Bonis has one word swirling around his program now more than ever in his first six years leading the Crusaders.
With many of their playmakers coming back from a team that started last year 8-0, a large contingency of Crusaders fans came out to watch Brother Martin play its spring game against Slidell on Tuesday at Pan American Stadium in hopes of seeing a team on the verge of taking its next stop in the growth process.
While Bonis understands the excitement surrounding some of the players coming back for the Crusaders next year, he said he wants the team to take more of a “day-to-day” approach.
“At this point in the offseason, my focus is to make sure our guys are just worried about taking care of their business on a day-to-day basis and everything will take care of it self,” said Bonis, who owns a 38-28 record in his six seasons at Brother Martin. “Expectations are fun for parents and some of our fans to talk about, but we can’t allow ourselves to get caught up in that.”
One of the major reasons expectations are growing around the Brother Martin program is the fact that they bring back nearly every one of their major contributors on an offense that averaged 36 points per game last year.
In particular, running back Bruce Jordan-Swilling showed why one of the offense’s few major losses from last year’s team — running back and Northern Colorado signee Jared West — may not be much of a concern going into next season.
Jordan-Swilling, who split time at linebacker and running back last year, will be playing offense full-time this upcoming season and showed how potentially explosive he can be on Tuesday with a full workload, converting short passes into 38- and 48-yard touchdown catches and running in another from 8 yards out.
“I know the team is going to need me to contribute more on offense this year, so I’m doing whatever they ask of me,” Jordan-Swilling said. “Our offense played really well today and we just have to keep working hard and playing together.”
Bonis also said he was happy with the play of quarterback Jake Broggi, tight end Irv Smith and wide receiver Jeremy Singleton after Tuesday’s spring game — all returning starters from last year.
“Our offense got a couple good long drives today and we were very balanced, which I was happy with,” Bonis said. “We have to keep improving everyday, but those guys work really well together and they were very productive today.”
One of the biggest question marks for the Crusaders going into next season will be their effort to replace eight starters on the defensive side of the ball, but many of the Crusaders’ new faces on defense showed they are more than ready to take on the challenge with the way they played against Slidell on Tuesday.
Brother Martin forced the Tigers’ first-team offense into three-and-outs on three different possessions and had another end on an interception returned for a touchdown by Brother Martin lineback Patrick Willis.
“I think the defense did a great job today, they were flying all over the place,” Smith said. “I think the guys on this year’s team aren’t too worried about last year because we made it to the semifinals and lost. Of course our goal is to go further than that.
“If we keep working hard this offseason and playing together, I think we’re going to be pretty good this season.”