Consistent Newman program continues motoring under Nelson Stewart

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Nelson Stewart

It is like clockwork.

Prior to each prep football season, pencil – no, make that pen in – the football teams at Isidore Newman for eight to 10 wins. That was the case until last year.

Playing a brutal schedule in a killer district, the Greenies were a modest 6-5, though that included a huge 41-40 upset win on the road at Dunham in one of the most exciting, if not the most exciting game of the season. The Greenies fell to Catholic of New Iberia the following week but it was still a successful season, reaching the Division III quarterfinals.

In 2017, expect more of the same excellence for Newman and its excellent coach, Nelson Stewart.

“We have never had a losing season, we’ve been fortunate,” Stewart said. “I felt we actually grew as a program last year with the tough schedule. We grew from it. We were able to re-analyze our practices. The kids stayed the course and believed in each other.”

Entering his 12th year, Stewart has posted an outstanding record of 88-39. The 2017 Greenies have a wealth of talent returning, though they will have to replace a brilliant quarterback in Miles Lapeyre.

“You cannot say enough about Miles Lapeyre,” Stewart said. “He was terrific and will be very tough to replace.”

Martin Butcher (6-1, 170) takes over at quarterback, and the junior has three proven receivers to throw to.

“We’re really excited about Martin,” Stewart said. “He was 12-0 as a starter for the junior varsity. He understands the offense and hangs in the pocket very well. His release and accuracy are excellent. He had a great summer. He’s a natural leader. I think he will fit right in and do well. He’s a tremendous system guy with a high upside. He has chemistry with our wide receivers.”

Senior Storey Charbonnet (5-11, 170) caught 43 passes for 665 yards and 12 touchdowns a year ago, junior Murray Calhoun (6-1, 180) caught 35 passes for 514 yards and seven touchdowns and senior Dylon Hill (6-2, 170) had 26 receptions for 384 yards and five touchdowns. Sophomore Jarmone Sutherland (5-11, 170) adds another good athlete on the outside.

“We are very strong at the receiver position,” Stewart said. “Dylon Hill was second in the state in the high jump. He has an amazing vertical leap and has great hands. He may be the most improved player we have. He is ready for a breakout season. Calhoun is our fastest player and an excellent kick return man. Storey is our top receiver, a great leader and smart. Sutherland was very good last year against Dunham and we expect him to continue to come on. We think it is as good of a corps of receivers as we’ve ever had.”

The running game is in good shape with powerful senior James Poche (6-0, 210), who rushed 135 times for 746 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.

“Poche is strong and he is a three-year starter,” Stewart. “He is a physical runner. He catches it well and blocks well as well. Joel Taylor should be quite good behind him. He started for us in the Dunham playoff game. TJ Bush is lightning fast as well.”

Up front, the Greenies feature three seniors, including tackles Ryan White (6-2, 220) and Wicker Perlis (6-2, 205) and guard Hacket Cummins (6-1, 230). Junior guard Andrew Godsegan (5-11, 195) and junior center Kyle Moss (5-9, 175) lack ideal size but play hard.

“I think the offensive line is the key to our offense,” Stewart said. “We changed our approach in the offseason to get stronger. Ryan White is our leader after transferring from Denham Springs last year. He is very athletic. Cummins is good, a three-year starter. When we struggled last year, it was up front. We expect to be better and must be better if we want to take the next step.”

The defense is seasoned and talented.

Up front, sophomore Brandon Williams (6-2, 205) is a budding star who recorded six sacks a year ago at his end spot. Senior Ryan White (6-2, 220) handles the other defensive end spot while the tackles are senior Colton Davis (6-2, 260) and junior Preston Schnell (6-1, 210).

“Brandon got his first offer recently,” Stewart. “He has the makings of a future Division I player. He can really run and has great explosiveness. He is as good of a perimeter pass rusher as I’ve ever had here. We’re trying to build our defense off of him. Davis will play both ways. He is big and athletic for us at the nose guard spot. White will play both ways as well and Schnell is a newcomer, a converted wide receiver who put on weight and he will be good for us.”

Linebacker is a strength for Newman with a pair of outstanding returning starters in seniors Cy Winsberg (5-10, 175) and Isaac Andry (5-9, 185). Winsberg recorded 87 tackles while Andry had 50 tackles a year ago. Junior Liam Rowan (6-0, 205) is the other starter.

“Isaac is our captain and a unique player who runs well,” Stewart said. “He can play safety. He is a tackling machine. Rowan is our middle linebacker who can really play in the box. Winsberg is experienced as well.”

The secondary is solid, led by a pair of senior returning starters in Calder Schmidt (5-10, 165) and Sam Moses (5-11, 170). Schmidt recorded 33 tackles and had two interceptions in 2016 while Moses had 36 tackles and a pair of interceptions. Seniors Will Renoir (5-11, 160) and Jack Reynolds (6-2, 175), along with junior Eli Abramson (5-11, 175) are the other starters. Moses will handle kicking duties for the Greenies.

“We have great experience in the secondary,” Stewart said. “We have depth and quality players. Schmidt and Moses are three-year starters. We can rotate guys in.”

The schedule opens with at home against McMain on Sept. 1 before the Greenies face Thomas Jefferson at Hoss Memtsas Stadium on Sept. 7. Newman will host East Jefferson before traveling to take on Berwick. The final non-district game is against Lusher on Sept. 28 at Lupin Field.

“We’ve had a good rivalry with McMain over the years,” Stewart said. “We really respect them. Kevin Kelly reached out asking us to play Thomas Jefferson. They work hard and are well coached. I know Frank Allelo very well at East Jefferson. They will challenge you physically with their run game. Berwick is a great road game to play and they have a great spread offense. Lusher is a team we’ve played frequently and it is a healthy competition against a neighborhood school.”

Newman opens district play on Oct. 6 at Country Day, who clobbered the Greenies a year ago. Then comes a tremendous challenge at home against defending Division III state champion Riverside Oct. 13. After hosting South Plaquemines in week eight, Newman will travel to Assumption for a tough non-district game on Oct. 27. The regular season concludes on Nov. 3 at Fisher.

“It’s a new district year so we have to play at Country Day again,” Stewart said. “At least it is on a Friday this year. We have a lot of respect for Country Day. They just beat us soundly last year. Riverside is a school we know very well. Chris Lachney will pick right up for Bill Stubbs. Their skill is tremendous and they are so physical on defense. It’s tough to find a team that good anywhere in the state. We have a ton of respect for them. South Plaquemines is a storied program with a new head coach. We have not played Fisher in some time. Assumption is a tough 4A team.”

If Butcher can mature quickly at quarterback, the Greenies will have a chance to be outstanding. The schedule and district are a bit more favorable, with St. Charles Catholic moving up to Division II. While Riverside is most certainly the favorite in district and state in Division III, Newman figures to be around for the fight again, at least through the quarterfinals. What else would you expect from Stewart and his consistent program?

“We will test ourselves all the way through,” Stewart said. “The goal is to be playing your best by the playoffs and I feel this schedule will certainly help us do so. We are excited and optimistic about our prospects in 2017.”

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