16 Jesuit student-athletes officially commit to college programs

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NEW ORLEANS – Sixteen student-athletes from Jesuit High School officially became college student-athletes on Wednesday.

Students representing eight programs are on their way to 13 different colleges to take their education and athletic careers to the next level.

Each of the players signed their commitment papers during an afternoon ceremony inside the Blue Jays gym.

The football program led the way with eight college-bound seniors, including four that will stay in Louisiana for college – LSU long snapper Luke LaForge, Tulane wide receiver Luke Besh, Tulane tight end/fullback Win Schibler and Southeastern defensive back Max Jubenville.

Scott Bairnsfather was the football players’ head coach in their senior season after being elevated from offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach when Mark Songy moved into an administrative role last spring.

He noted that Songy named LaForge, who primarily played quarterback and receiver, a team captain as junior.

“I don’t know if that has happened too often around here,” Bairnsfather said.

LSU has a recent history of having top-flight long snappers, including brothers Reid Ferguson, who’s with the Buffalo Bills and Blake Ferguson, who’s with the Miami Dolphins.

Bairnsfather said LaForge is “the best deep snapper I have ever seen in my 34 years of coaching,” adding that LaForge also “has the toughness, the ability and the courage to be a great receiver or tight end if that’s what LSU chooses him to be.”

In the Blue Jays’ regular-season loss to Brother Martin last season, LaForge rushed for a touchdown, passed or a touchdown and caught a touchdown pass.

“I challenge you to find someone else who has ever done that (in a high-school game),” Bairnsfather said.

LaForge was sidelined by a shoulder injury as Jesuit was preparing for a rematch against the Crusaders in the playoffs. Just two days before the game, Bairnsfather learned that LaForge’s replacement – Jack Larriviere – would be unavailable for the game because of COVID-19 contact tracing.

Bairnsfather asked LaForge to try and throw “about five passes” during the walk-through the day before the game.

“They all looked like a helicopter,” Bairnsfather said. “They went sideways and didn’t touch anything but ground.”

LaForge underwent therapy to try and get ready to play, but Bairnsfather was no more certain of his availability during pre-game warm-ups.

“He looked terrible,” Bairnsfather said. “He told me he was going to be fine and he put on a tremendous show.”

LaForge threw four touchdown passes the Blue Jays’ 36-34 loss.

“It was one of the greatest single-handedly courageous events I have ever seen in all my years of coaching,” Bairnsfather said.

LaForge said he realized he would be able to compete when the adrenaline started pumping as he and his teammates ran through the banner onto the field shortly before kickoff.

“It was go time,” LaForge said, “and I had to be ready to go.”

Bairnsfather was able to coach Besh and Schibler as their position coach before becoming head coach.

As a senior Besh caught 57 passes, 17 of which (30 percent) went for touchdowns.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that happen,” Bairnsfather said.

Besh said he chose Tulane because of the balance of academics and athletics reminded him of Jesuit and his family could watch him play. He also cited the fact that head coach Willie Fritz has the Green Wave’s program “on the rise.”

“It was really exciting watching that offense last season,” Besh said.

Bairnsfather said he told Fritz and his staff, “don’t worry (Besh) will play early, he’s that talented.”

Schibler is “the definition of what a Jesuit football player should be,” Bairnsfather said – “he plays through injury, plays through pain, leads by example, works as hard as he can work at everything he does, blocks as hard as he can block every play.”

Bairnsfather lobbied Songy to move defensive end A.J. Alvarez to tight end after three tight ends had graduated following Alvarez’s sophomore season.

“I need Alvarez,” Bairnsfather told Songy.

Alvarez had “practiced hard and was moving up the depth chart (at defensive end)” when Songy and Bairnsfather approached defensive line coach Troy Baglio about the potential position switch.

“We had a war of words for an hour over who gets A.J. Alvarez,” Bairnsfather said. “Coach Songy is basically an offensive coach so I won.”

Now after two seasons as a tight end, Alvarez is headed to Millsaps College, where “his best football is ahead of him,” Bairnsfather said.

Alvarez will remain teammates with offensive lineman Jake Murphy, who overcame surgery on both of his knees during his first two seasons to become the “anchor” of the Blue Jays offensive line as a senior.

Luke Carlton, like Alvarez, had to bide his time on Jesuit’s deep defensive line to start as a senior.

“He absolutely shined,” Bairnsfather said, “making big play after big play.”

Carlton is headed to Berry College.

Will Hawkins, who Bairnsfather called “the absolute heart and soul of our defense” before missing his senior season after tearing an ACL in preseason practice, is headed to Gustavus Adolphus College.

Jubenville, who moved from defensive line to linebacker before his junior season, was “our emotional leader on defense” last season, Bairnsfather said.

A position switch was also part of Zach Casebonne’s baseball career with the Blue Jays.

When he arrived as a catcher he was behind Parker Serio, who now plays for Nicholls State, and was moved to the outfield.

“He played outfield for three years because it helped our program,” Jays baseball coach Kenny Goodlett said. “He showed that he was a team player.”

Casebonne was moved to catcher for his senior season and said “it has been everything I waited for.”

Goodlett noted Casebonne’s impact on the program, having played in 116 games “and counting,” a reference to Jesuit’s best-of-three Division I quarterfinal playoff series against Rummel that begins Friday at John Ryan Field.

Casebonne is headed to Dartmouth, which he said “is more than just an Ivy League school where you go to better your academics.”

“It’s a baseball team that’s willing to compete for a championship,” he added.

Jays soccer goalkeeper Ray Sauerwin is headed to Spring Hill College and forward Trevor Reichmann is going to Sewanee: University of the South.

Lacrosse attackman Andrew Brown will be joining Carlton at Berry College, tennis player Nick Crockens is going to Quincy University, track and field runner Ian Tablan will attend the University of Mobile, wrestler Luke Battaglia is going to Loras College and cheerleader Stefan Hernandez-San Martin will attend Loyola New Orleans.

JESUIT RELEASE: Sixteen student-athletes from Jesuit High School of New Orleans will make their commitments to continue their athletic careers at the collegiate level.

A.J. Alvarez (Football) – Millsaps College (Jackson, MS)
Jesuit’s head football coach, Scott Bairnsfather, had this to say about Alvarez:
A.J., a two-year starter for the Blue Jays at tight end, has been a tremendous asset to the Blue Jay offense. Starting as a defensive lineman, he switched to offense and immediately became a strength for a prolific offensive attack. Millsaps is getting a player whose best years are ahead of him. His blocking ability and intelligence will be tough to duplicate in the future for the Blue Jays.

Luke Battaglia (Wrestling) – Loras College (Dubuque, IA)
Jesuit’s head wrestling coach, Sheridan Moran, had this to say about Battaglia:
I am very proud of Luke Battaglia on continuing his wrestling career at Loras College. Luke has had a tremendous impact on the Jesuit wrestling program, and I have no doubt he will continue to make an impact on the Loras program through his grit, work ethic, and faith.

Luke Besh

Luke Besh (Football) – Tulane University (New Orleans, LA)
Jesuit’s head football coach, Scott Bairnsfather, had this to say about Besh:
As a member of the Louisiana Coaches Association 5A all-state team, along with being all-district and all metro, Luke has proven to be one of the best wide receivers in the state. With 58 catches, over 1000 yards, and 17 touchdowns, his explosive, play-making abilities have proven to be outstanding. We look forward to his having an early impact on the Green Wave football team.

Andrew Brown (Lacrosse) – Berry College (Mount Berry, GA)
Jesuit’s head lacrosse coach, Zach Pall, had this to say about Brown:
Andrew is the type of kid who leads by example on and off the field. His hard work and dedication to mastering his craft is on display every time he steps on the field. He is a team player and will do whatever is asked of him for the betterment of the team.
Andrew is going to be missed by the Blue Jays next year but has great plans in his future, and I am very excited to see Andrew take the next step in his lacrosse career.

Luke Carlton (Football) – Berry College (Mount Berry, GA)
Jesuit’s head football coach, Scott Bairnsfather, had this to say about Carlton:
Luke, a three-year letterman for the Blue Jay defense, led the defensive line with 57 tackles and three sacks. His consistent play and in-game motor made him a pivotal piece of the defensive front. With his commitment to Berry, we know that he will be a valuable part of a strong team.

Zack Cassebonne

Zack Casebonne (Baseball) – Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH)
Jesuit’s head baseball coach, Kenneth Goodlett, had this to say about Casebonne:
Zack has started for four years on our varsity team as an outfielder and catcher. In his senior season, Zack has a .406 batting average and 30 RBI’s. He has a great work ethic on the field and in the classroom. He is a competitor, a good teammate, and a young man with great character. Zack has all the tools to compete at the next level and will be a great addition at Dartmouth.

Nick Crockens (Tennis) – Quincy University (Quincy, IL)
Jesuit’s head tennis coach, Bill Jepson, had this to say about Crockens:
I’m so excited that senior co-captain Nick Crockens will be playing college tennis. In the three years that I’ve known Nick—working with him at A’s and Aces and on the Jesuit team—I have seen the hard work and dedication to developing high quality tennis skills. Nick is a terrific young man with a very positive-looking future at college and beyond. I wish him all the best in college with tennis and adult life. It’s been my privilege to work with him these last three years. Go get ’em, Nick! All the best.

Will Hawkins (Football) – Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter, MN)
Jesuit’s head football coach, Scott Bairnsfather, had this to say about Hawkins:
Will, a starter his junior year at Jesuit, was a committed leader for the entire Blue Jay team. After a successful year as a junior, he suffered a major injury before his senior season. The Blue Jays missed his production, but his strong character and ability to be a tremendous team leader made him valuable without peer for the Jesuit football team. We look forward to seeing him get back into action for the Golden Gusties.

Stefan Hernandez-San Martin (Cheer) – Loyola University of New Orleans (New Orleans, LA)
Jesuit’s cheer coach, Krista Roeling, had this to say about Hernandez-San Martin:
Stefan joined us when he was a sophomore and from the very first practice, we knew he’d be an asset to the team. He was a natural athlete, a natural leader and a true team player. He was always striving to do more and be better. This was imminent with his tumbling and coed partner stunting.
Loyola is lucky to be getting a consistent, hard-working, talented, and dedicated athlete. The cheer squad will not only miss his talent but his “can-do,” positive attitude and his outlook on everything. We wish him the best and look forward to watching and hearing about his success and future endeavors.

Max Jubenville (Football) – Southeastern Louisiana University (Hammond, LA)
Jesuit’s head football coach, Scott Bairnsfather, had this to say about Jubenville:
Max, an all-district selection and two-year starter, brings with him to Southeastern an unequaled passion for making plays on defense. With 117 tackles in the 2020 campaign, he consistently led the team in tackles. He is a fearless leader who looks to parley these skills into a great career for the Lions.

Luke Laforge

Luke Laforge (Football) – Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, LA)
Jesuit’s head football coach, Scott Bairnsfather, had this to say about Laforge:
With Luke as a three-year starter at wide-receiver, quarterback, and deep snapper, LSU is getting one of the most talented and versatile athletes in the Catholic League. Being a two-year captain, he has shown outstanding leadership abilities. We look forward to seeing Luke’s impact on the future of LSU Tiger football as both a deep snapper and offensive weapon.

Jake Murphy (Football) – Millsaps College (Jackson, MS)
Jesuit’s head football coach, Scott Bairnsfather, had this to say about Murphy:
Jake, a multiple-year starter, has had a great career as a Jesuit offensive lineman. Despite being plagued by injuries early in his career, he consistently came back as a foundational piece of the offense, being selected as an all-district offensive lineman as a senior. His demeanor and spirit have been unmatched for the Blue Jays, and we know that Millsaps will love his desire and toughness.

Trevor Reichmann (Soccer) – Sewanee University (Sewanee, TN)
Jesuit’s head soccer coach, Hubie Collins, had this to say about Reichmann:
On behalf of the Jesuit High School varsity soccer team, I would like to congratulate Trevor on being accepted to Sewanee University.
Trevor played on the varsity soccer team for three years primarily as a forward/striker. As a player Trevor is technically very talented and has the ability to use both feet proficiently. Tactically Trevor has great awareness on the field. Physically, Trevor is an outstanding athlete with an abundance of pace and strength; however, most impressively, Trevor has the talent, ability, and composure to score goals. Trevor led the team his senior year with most goals and assists.
Trevor’s passion and love for soccer is the biggest driving force and is what makes him so special as a player. Trevor is always optimistic and has a great sense of humor, but he is always a fierce competitor.
Trevor’s leadership skills, dedication to practice, and the respect he showed to all his peers, was very impressive to witness.
In closing we wish Trevor every success both academically and athletically at Sewanee.

Raymond Sauerwin (Soccer) – Spring Hill College (Spring Hill, AL)
Jesuit’s head soccer coach, Hubie Collins, had this to say about Sauerwin:
On behalf of the Jesuit High School varsity soccer team, I would like to congratulate Ray on being accepted to Spring Hill College.
Raymond played on the varsity soccer team for two years but has played in the program for five years. Raymond plays in what many consider the most important position on the soccer field, goalkeeper. The goalkeeper position is the last line of defense but also the first line of offense. Raymond has many attributes as a player: technically his ball handling skills are very impressive, tactically Raymond’s awareness on the field is first rate, athletically Raymond shows great strength, agility, and quickness; however, Raymond’s greatest attribute is his bravery and composure in the face of adversity. Raymond always puts his body and own personal safety at risk during every training session or game.
Raymond’s maturity, dedication, and leadership skills made him a great team player and friend to all his teammates. One of Raymond’s lesser known talents is that of a musician and performer.
We wish Raymond every success both academically and athletically at Spring Hill College.

Win Schibler (Football) – Tulane University (New Orleans, LA)
Jesuit’s head football coach, Scott Bairnsfather, had this to say about Schibler:
Being a three-year starter at fullback and tight end, Win has proven to be a consistent, talented member of the Blue Jay attack on offense. He is consistently a great teammate, leader, and tough member of the Blue Jay front. His blocking ability and intelligence will be tough to duplicate in the future for the Blue Jays.

Ian Tablan (Cross Country) – University of Mobile (Mobile, AL)
Jesuit’s head cross country coach, Rudy Horvath, had this to say about Tablan:
The University of Mobile in Alabama is getting a determined and hard-working young man in Ian Tablan. In his usual quiet demeanor, Ian really hit his stride during his senior year as one of Jesuit’s many top senior runners hitting PRs in cross country in the low 17:00s and nearly breaking 5:00 during track season in the 1600 meters. With his resolve and drive to continue to get better, I believe Ian will have a significant impact in the University of Mobile’s distance program.

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Les East

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Les East is a nationally renowned freelance journalist. The New Orleans area native’s blog on SportsNOLA.com was named “Best Sports Blog” in 2016 by the Press Club of New Orleans. For 2013 he was named top sports columnist in the United States by the Society of Professional Journalists. He has since become a valued contributor for CCS. The Jesuit High…

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