That hastily scheduled game after the cancellation Friday of the season opener in Shreveport saw the Pios strike for a 7-0 lead on an 80-yard pass from Brad Stoma to Nicholas Benoit. With deteriorating weather conditions, safety issues prompted coaches to agree on abandoning chances of concluding the game and Pios coach Lewis Cook has had his team focusing on week two preparations.
“We were naturally disappointed we didn’t finish the game, especially with all we went through to make it happen in such a short time,” said Cook. “We did get the opportunity to evaluate some things and to get some work in the kicking game which is good to have this early in the year. When we had a chance to look at the game film, it was encouraging to see our execution on the pass completion for a touchdown and we came up with the stop on defense to force the missed long field goal. Those are all things we can build on.”
The Pios had little time to be concerned with what might have been last week with a familiar opponent heading their way this week. Breaux Bridge annually fields one of the top squads in the Acadiana area characterized by speed and athleticism.
“They are always so athletic and that makes them so tough because of how they use that to affect the game. They don’t stay blocked and that means they really get to the football. They always have athletes that can create big plays and we saw that last year with three long touchdowns.”
Notre Dame and Breaux Bridge met in the Pios’ very first season of 1967 under Coach Jerry Dill, winning that game, 19-0. The teams did not play again until 1997, Cook’s first season. Breaux Bridge took that game, 28-7, and won the next season, 27-21.
“When you think about the type of players we have seen over the years, that stands out most about those games. Those two years they beat us with players like runningback Dominique Davis who went on to LSU. That’s the first thing you notice is there will be tremendous athletes that are going off to college careers and you can’t ever overlook them as an opponent.”
The Pios went on to win the next five meetings, starting with a memorable 21-6 playoff win at Breaux Bridge in 2000 on the way to Cook’s first state championship at Notre Dame. A fourth quarter Billy Broach field goal with 39 seconds to play secured a 17-14 win in 2007 and the defense stopped a two point conversion attempt to seal a 14-12 win the next season.
Opponents went a whole season in 2009 without picking up on the Pios quick strike offense. Breaux Bridge was the second victim that year when Morgan Allen hauled in a 62-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Leonards on the first play of the game. ND took a 17-0 win on the way to another state championship and a 15-0 season. The score (17-0) was the same the following year at home on another run to the dome that was halted by Parkview in the semifinals.
Last year, Breaux Bridge won, 28-12, advancing to the 4A semifinals before losing to eventual state champ Neville, 16-7. The score doesn’t tell the story as the Pios trailed 21-12 midway through the fourth quarter with a chance to pull it out.
In that game, Tigers QB Randall Menard completed 11 of 13 passes for 172 yards and three touchdowns. The Pios surrendered scoring passes of 87 and 12 yards to Travin Dural, and a 75 yarder to Kavahra Holmes. Big plays were the story as Breaux Bridge’s Lamar Louis put the game away with a 47 yard TD run in the closing minutes.
The good news is that Dural, Holmes and Louis have all taken their division one talents to college football at LSU. Linebacker Tyren Alexander also departed to become a UL Ragin Cajun.
The bad news is the Tigers feel good enough about the quarterback position to move Menard to wide receiver. He also pulls duty at safety on defense and with special teams on kick returns.
“Menard is such an athlete and a threat running with the ball. They needed to keep the ball in his hands as often as possible, so the move has helped their team. He actually hurt a hand in our game last year and that gave the Landry kid a chance to play. They apparently liked what they saw.”
Junior Lane Landry (5-11, 150) has been given the reigns of the offense, just like two older brothers before him. In the Tigers 28-21 win over Westgate last week, Landry completed 6-of-11 passes for 116 yards including a 23 yard scoring strike to senior receiver Aaron Lastrapes (6-1, 160).
“He’s another one of those tall, athletic receivers Breaux Bridge always seems to have. They utilized the tight end, Demontreal Babineaux (6-2, 215) and are trying to do more in the passing game.”
When Menard puts some time in on offense, the Tigers field another potent receiving corps. Senior Deandre Alexander (5-11, 155) adds depth and experience.
“Obviously, without those college prospects this year, they had to move some folks around to fill those holes. All those guys are big targets and pose a threat that you have to pay attention to.”
Senior Josh Faulk (5-10, 205) returns at runningback. He will get help from senior Demarkus Daughdrill (5-8, 170), who moves to offense after two seasons as a starter at cornerback. Faulk gained 43 yards on ten carries last week and caught two passes for 38 yards. Daughdrill got the ball 11 times for 58 yards with a seven yard TD run.
Seniors center Mathew Picard (5-9, 215) and tackle Kyle Weatherford (5-10, 225) are the only returners on the offensive line. Seniors Mathew Blanchard (5-11, 205) and Chase Louviere (5-9, 175) move into starting spots on the left side and junior Tristan Brasseaux (5-8, 210) mans right guard to form a front that would have to be considered undersized by Breaux Bridge standards.
Senior defensive ends Ernie Filer (6-0, 230) and Ronald Girouard (6-0, 205) join senior defensive back Alex Williams (5-9, 150) as the lone returning starters on defense. Juniors Kourtney Peters (5-7, 230) and Isayah Wiltz (6-1, 215) step in at the tackle positions for a defensive front that also will not be imposing figures for opponents.
“Size-wise, they are not as big as the last several times we have played them. Offensively, if we can shake the confidence a little we may be able to gain an advantage, but we have to stay conscious of them trying to create big plays. With our size up front on offense, we’ll see if that is an area where we might can gain an advantage with our running backs. The flip side is they are a little quicker on that defensive front.”