Confidence high at Holy Cross with LeCompte now at helm
By all accounts, 2017 was a solid season for Holy Cross a year ago.
Under the capable guidance of Eric Rebaudo, the Tigers defeated arch-rival Jesuit, powerful St. Augustine and Rummel, beating the Raiders for the first time since 1995.
However, Holy Cross could not advance in the Division I playoffs, falling in a heartbreaker at St. Paul’s 27-24 in the opening round in a game aired live at CrescentCitySports.com.
Enter Guy LeCompte.
Always known and respected as a brilliant offensive mind in his days as an assistant coach at Salmen and then as a head coach at Mandeville, LeCompte brings those qualities to a talented squad on Paris Avenue. LeCompte also assumed the duties of athletic director at Holy Cross as well.
In 11 years at Mandeville, LeCompte fashioned an impressive 93-40 record, taking the Skippers to the semifinals in 2011, 2012 and 2015 and the quarterfinals in 2007 and 2014. LeCompte felt drawn to Paris Avenue.
“The mission statement of Holy Cross, the headmaster Sean Martin, his vision for the school and getting back to the mission statement that the school was originally founded on was important to me,” LeCompte said. “Raising Holy Cross men is the goal. That is what drew me to it. That is a welcoming environment. It is great to be in a faith-based environment. It’s nice to be in a good Christian environment. I got into coaching in the first place to impact lives.”
At Holy Cross, LeCompte has the talent to go that far, if not further.
While the Tigers must replace wide receiver Kim Wimberly (Harvard), running back Landen Bates (Stonehill College), linebacker Josh Gillard (South Alabama) defensive back Kyree Currington (Idaho) and solid defensive lineman Mikey Ricks, there is a wealth of talent returning.
There are 13 starters returning from a year ago, including six on offense and seven on defense.
Offensively, the biggest change is at quarterback, where junior Bryan Broussard (5-11 ,160) takes over for Jaden Moran. Broussard has looked good in 7-on-7 drills in the offseason.
“Bryan is a dual threat,” LeCompte said. “He was in baseball and we expect good things from him. He’s really smart and he is picking up the offense really well. He got a lot of repetitions in tournaments. He has good speed. I anticipate Bryan continuing to improve and he is improving at a record pace.”
Broussard has an outstanding wide receiver to target in junior Tyler Kirkwood (6-0, 185). A two-sport star (basketball), Kirkwood caught 22 passes for 372 yards and a pair of touchdowns a year ago. He will be joined at wide receiver by sophomore Jalen Johnson (5-9, 155), who has speed, along with junior Alondre Wells (5-8, 145). Senior tight end Merlin Seminary (6-0, 220) returns as well.
“I have kids who can stretch the field at wide receiver,” LeCompte said. “Kirkwood and Johnson can get vertical, open up the field for themselves and others. Seminary is solid. Wells is young and he can run. We are young and will get better.”
The running back spot will be manned by junior Celven Hulbert (5-5, 170) and sophomore Jaden Handy (5-10, 175), both of whom are very quick and have very good futures. Hulbert rushed 54 times for 303 yards and two touchdowns a year ago.
“Both Calven and Jaden are very talented and they are young,” LeCompte said. “They can run. We have good team speed.”
The offensive line is seasoned and physical, with four returning starters and should be the strength of the team.
Senior center Grant Jenny (6-3, 265) is back, along with senior tackle Austin Wehrlin (6-2, 275), senior guard Jalen Womble (6-0, 260) and junior guard Josh Remetich (6-4, 270). The new starter is Trent Blanchard (6-3 ,220).
“We have size and experience up front,” LeCompte said. “That is something we did not have in recent years at Mandeville. It is a real strength for us.”
The defensive front will be a strength as well.
Senior Maurice Robichaux (6-0, 260) returns at nose guard to plug the running game while senior defensive end David Barnes (6-2, 220) returns as well. Barnes had 44 tackles a year ago, including four sacks. Senior Elias Brown (6-2, 215) is the other starter in the 3-3-5 alignment. Brown played significantly a year ago as a reserve.
Linebacker is a very good spot for the Tigers, thanks to the superb talent of junior Tyler Grubbs (6-1, 225) and senior Dominic Lamm (6-1, 215), a pair of returning starters who are very physical strikers. Grubbs led the team in tackles a year ago. He was in on 130 tackles and had four interceptions. Lamm was in on 46 tackles, including seven sacks. Luke St. Amant (5-10, 185) is the third starter.
“Lamm and Barnes are outstanding while Grubbs finds the ball and make plays,” LeCompte said. “We will make some little changes to what was done last year on defense. Dominic and David may play some linebacker. We will line then up where they can help us make plays.”
The secondary has a pair of returning starters, including senior Dru Stephens (6-0, 165) at cornerback. Stephens was in on 30 tackles and had four interceptions in 2017. Sophomore Jackson Wallace (5-10, 150) mans the other corner.
Senior Chase Rouzano (5-11, 165) returns at free safety. Rouzano was in on 39 tackles and recorded an interception last season. Also back at strong safety is senior Colby Brown (5-10, 170). Brown was in on 53 tackles a year ago. Kolbe Cage (6-0, 195) will roam and will be a factor as well.
“We have good experience in the secondary, led by Stephens and Rouzano,” LeCompte said. “Brown, Cage and Wallace are solid players. Jackson will play corner and should be solid. Kolbe Cage will play safety. Both are physical, strong and have good speed.”
The kicking game should be very good with senior kicker Nolan Heitmeier (5-9, 150) returning, along with Broussard as the punter. Heitmeier connected on 10 field goals and made 20-of-22 extra points a year ago. Stephens and Johnson should handle the bulk of the return game.
“Heitmeier has experience and that is so important at this level,” LeCompte said.
The schedule opens at home against Higgins on Aug. 31 at Tad Gormley Stadium before the Tigers head to Covington and rival Chalmette.
“I am really not looking at the opponents right now,” LeCompte said. “It is a different mix of teams. My emphasis on pre-district scheduling is to focus on us and executing what we put in. We want to make sure our fundamentals are in place, the effort is there and we must avoid mental mistakes and penalties. That is the focal point. I know Covington well but they will be a relatively new team from last year.”
District 9-5A play opens on Sept. 21 at Gormley against Archbishop Shaw before the Tigers battle Jesuit in the Great American Rivalry Series at Gormley on Sept. 28.
A trip to Metairie to face Archbishop Rummel follows before Homecoming on Oct. 12 against Brother Martin. The Tigers travel to Kenner to take on John Curtis Christian at Muss Bertolino Stadium on Oct. 19 before the district finale against St. Augustine on Oct. 25. The regular season closes at Gormley on Nov. 1 against Live Oak.
“What I like about this league is how competitive it is,” LeCompte said. “Each week is a big game. The kids work hard all summer, all year. I’m expecting a good atmosphere for every game. It is easy to motivate the guys to play with good atmospheres weekly. It will be a memorable experience for all the kids. We went against Shaw, Rummel, John Curtis and Holy Cross at some point when I was at Mandeville. I saw St. Aug and Brother Martin when I was at Salmen. Things change from year-to-year.”
With a proven winner manning the helm and talent returning, Holy Cross appears primed to perhaps challenge John Curtis Christian for supremacy in the Catholic League and appears poised to get a solid seed and advance in the playoffs, at the very least.
“I am excited about the quality of players we have, the size and speed,” LeCompte said. “We are implementing change and it is going well. I’m excited about our team and the possibilities.”
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…