Bourgeois, Episcopal ready to continue winning ways
Travis Bourgeois has fashioned a consistent winner with the Episcopal Knights for 28 years.
In 23 years as head coach of the Knights, Bourgeois has accumulated a record of 155-85, making him the winningest coach in Episcopal’s football history.
Under his leadership, the Knights have been to the playoffs 15 consecutive seasons, poised to make it 16 this season.
“Being in the same place in this day and age you see coaches hop around at different schools,” Bourgeois said. “It’s just a matter of fit and this is a great fit for me and my family. I’ve been here 28 years and it’s just a place that I’m really comfortable with. I love the fact of being able to coach multiple sports as well.”
Coaching has been a bit of a youth serum for Bourgeois.
“They keep you young, they keep you motivated, and they keep you energized,” Bourgeois said. “If you don’t need that energy you’re gonna get left behind. It’s just real. I’m really appreciative of Episcopal for giving me this opportunity and keeping me around because it has been a great place and a great fit for me and my family.”
The Knights lost key starters to graduation in lineman Cale Buhler and Cam Butler, Cooper Braud, defensive back Trigg Newton.
The most notable player to replace is quarterback Lewis Ward, who holds the school’s all time passing record and was a huge leader of the team.
Still, there is plenty in the cupboard in 2023 as the Knights return 15 starters and a staff that has done an excellent job of preparing the players for the task at hand.
“Every year I always tell our kids that our senior class is going to determine how successful of a season we have,” Bourgeois said. “Last year we did not lose many seniors but we had outstanding leadership and that is something that you can not replace overnight. We did lose Ward who was the all time leading passer at Episcapal so he is one piece we must replace but also his leadership as well.”
Bourgeois has placed the leadership mantra on his veteran players.
“That’s the challenge with this year’s seniors,” Bourgeois said. “We do have 12 seniors who have experience but they have never been in a leadership role. That senior class has to come together and the leaders have to step up. That’s the exciting thing about a couple days of Spring and your 7 on 7’s, giving those guys the opportunity to be leaders. I’m anxious to find out who the leaders will be.”
Bourgeois believes his kids are ready for the challenge.
“Being at a smaller school, you hope your younger guys benefit from getting experience, starting with the junior varsity program,” Bourgeois said. “It’s the next man up so now our sophomores and freshman from last year who didn’t get a lot of varsity experience, they are going to be the guys who get the opportunity to carry on the tradition and give themselves a change to compete for a starting position or to be a significant contributor.”
As a smaller school, the Knights will once again rely on some players to perform in iron man fashion, playing both ways.
“I would like to eliminate that but it’s really difficult to do so we are trying to give these guys opportunities in spring ball, fall camp, scrimmages and jamborees to give them opportunities to earn playing time,” Bourgeois said. “That’s just the cycle of playing two-way football is watching these kids develop over a year. You pass the baton to the next man and hopefully that guy is ready for the challenge. You really don’t want a lot of guys going both ways. You find that out in the playoffs the more successful teams limit guys going on both sides of the ball.”
Sophomore Zach Hu (5-11, 170) takes over at quarterback.
“Zach is a tremendous competitor,” Bourgeois said. “I’m the head baseball coach as well and Zach was our starting catcher so he was able to get a lot of varsity experience in baseball and hopefully he did get a few snaps in for us last year. We just hope he’s developed over the summer and being himself. We don’t want to put a lot of weight on his shoulders.”
Hu will benefit from a pair of returning starters at running back in senior Braeden George (5-11, 185) and junior Reid Chauvin (5-9, 175). George rushed for 1,050 yards and 15 touchdowns while Chauvin had 770 rushing yards with 15 scores last season.
The wide receivers feature a pair of returning starters in junior David Olinde (5-11, 180) and senior Walker Dauzat (5-9, 160). Olinde had 500 receiving yards and four touchdown receptions last season. The new starter is junior John Hart Singer (5-9, 165).
The offensive line is a strength with four starters returning. They include senior tackle James Thom (6-0, 200), junior guard Matthew Boagni (5-11, 185), senior center Will York (5-10, 195) and senior tackle Preston Pontiff (6-4, 210). The new starter is sophomore guard Jacob Duval (5-10, 165).
The defense is very experienced, with nine players who started games a year ago returning.
Up front, senior end Ethan Ott (5-11, 180) and junior tackle JB Sessums (6-0, 225) are back and will be joined by lengthy senior end Kareem Badawi (6-5, 220).
All three linebackers return intact in juniors Chase Finley (5-10, 165) and Chase Cresson (6-0, 195), along with sophomore Taj Callahan (5-11, 180).
All four starters in the secondary started games a year ago, led by senior TJ Callahan (6-0, 165). Juniors Brody Bailey (5-11, 160), Nathan Sanchez (5-11, 160) and Will Ribes (5-11, 165) are the others.
“We have eight starters back on the defensive side of the ball,” Bourgeois said. “On paper, it looks really good that you still have to go out there perform. We know we have to improve. Our last game was a quarterfinal game against Notre Dame and we got into it, they had us physically. So our guys use that as motivation to say where are we gonna get to to get that level.””
The memory of the 47-0 quarterfinal loss lingers and serves as motivation.
“You know those eight guys know they put a whooping them and it was tough,” Bourgeois said. “Hopefully, you get that as motivation and those guys get a year stronger and have a year more experience. And now they know what it takes if you want to get to that level so you know it’s it’s it’s good to have that group back but you know they got they have to improve. We have to get tougher.”
The kicking game is a strength for the Knights.
“I do like our special teams guys,” Bourgeois said. “Kicker Alden Romano (5-9, 165) and punter Austin Ray (6-0 185) are back and those two guys, they did really outstanding jobs for us last year. We also have our deep snapper Silas Hall (6-3, 205) back who has done outstanding for us, Bourgeois said. That is a major point of the game that a lot of people take for granted.”
The season opens with home games against St. Michael and St. Thomas Aquinas before three straight road games against Country Day, Port Allen and Ascension Catholic.
District 6-2A play begins with home games against Capitol and Dunham before a road game at Northeast. After hosting East Feliciana, the Knights finish at Baker
Bourgeois is very comfortable at Episcopal.
“In this day and age, you see coaches hop around at different schools,” Bourgeois said. “It’s just a matter of fit and this is a great fit for me and my family. I’ve been here 28 years and it’s just a place that I’m really comfortable with. I really love the fact of being able to coach multiple sports, cause our kids play multiple sports and I just like the people on the young people.”
Bourgeois remains vibrant and young at heart.
They keep you young, they keep you motivated, and they keep you energized if you don’t need that energy you’re gonna get left behind,” Bourgeois said. “It’s just real. I’m really appreciative of Episcopal for giving me this opportunity and keeping me around because it really has been a great place and a great fit for me and my family.”
With a history of success, the Knights have a lot of confidence going into the fall, blessed with an excellent coach who has presided over a program of academic and athletic success while earning the respect of others statewide.
Click here for more CCS Prep Football team previews (including archives of past season previews).
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Born and raised in the Metairie area, Jacob Senat is a 2023 graduate of Kenner Discovery Health Sciences Academy. He is currently attending Southeastern Louisiana University majoring in Sports Broadcasting and analytics.