Fontainebleau likely to improve in 2018

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It is never a preferred situation to field young players against experienced players.

Fontainebleau head coach Chris Blocker presided over a young team in 2017, which will be much more experienced in 2018. Fontainebleau learned on the job in a tough 3-7 season last year, including 3-4 in always competitive District 6-5A.

There are real reasons for optimism. The Bulldogs have 15 starters back from a year ago, including eight on offense and seven on defense.

While not likely to reach the lofty status of being a semifinal team like the program’s high-water mark in 2004, the Bulldogs are a strong contender to have a winning season and return to the playoffs in 2018.

“We are still a little young but we are pretty excited about the way we are coming on,” said Blocker, etering his fourth season at Fontainebleau. “It was not a real good year last year but we feel we were competitive and will be competitive this year.”

Offensively, sophomore quarterback Josh Bailey (6-3, 183) has a chance to be very good while junior Dwayne Bernard (5-8, 190) will compete with him for the job.

“We are not totally decided between Josh Bailey and Dwayne Bernard,” Blocker said. “They are both very talented individuals. Regardless of who is behind center, it will require a team effort. We’re going to do whatever is best for the team. I won’t rule out playing both. We ran it well last year but have to improve our passing game. We are working very hard on doing so.”

He has a fine returning starter to throw to in junior Jacolby Kirby (6-3, 183). Senior Brett Johnson (5-11, 155) and junior Dawson Nelson (5-10, 160) also return at the receiver spot while senior Jaden Davenport (5-11, 160) is the other starter.

“Kirby is very athletic,” Blocker said. “Johnson and Nelson have experience and we expect them to be solid as well. This should be a good group for us.”

Sophomore Iverson Celestine (5-11, 190) gained valuable experience as a freshman and is ready to blossom as a sophomore running back.

“Iverson became a starter in week three last year and showed tremendous potential and progress,” Blocker said. “We have been working a lot with him on reads and in the passing game. He continues to improve and should be quite good.”

Up front, the Bulldogs will be very solid, with four starters returning. They include seniors Griffin Clements (6-2, 250), David LeBlanc (5-10, 272), Doug Schuler (6-3, 235) and sophomore Isaac Gray (6-2, 230).

“We have a lot of experience returning up front,” Blocker said. “It is a bright spot of our team. They all bring something to the table. Clements does an excellent job as does Schuler. Both are coming along nicely and are attracting some attention from college guys.”

The defensive front is a big inexperienced, with only one starter back in junior Brandon Clouatre (5-10, 220). Clouatre is joined by seniors Dammon Warren (5-11, 235) and Grayson Froberg (5-10, 220).

“Clouatre brings experience and that helps but we need others to step up” Blocker said. “We believe they can but they have to do so.”

A pair of linebackers return in junior Christian Bobo (5-11, 190), the best of the bunch, along with junior Grant Salzan (5-10, 192). Other starters include senior Colin Gagnon (5-10, 165) and sophomore Tony Monk (5-11, 220).

“Bobo and Gagnon are solid players and we expect really good things from them this season,” Blocker said.

The secondary is the strength of the defense with all four starters returning. They include senior Marvin Lange (5-8, 160), along with juniors Sonny Silvas (5-11, 175), Erin Damond (5-11, 145) and Treylin Deville (5-9, 165).

“This group in the deep has been playing together for a few years now,” Blocker said. “We cannot help but to be excited about that. This is our strength.”

Senior Christopher Mastio (5-9, 185) will handle punting and kicking duties.

The schedule opens at home against Class 4A power Lakeshore. The Titans reached the 4A state championship game a year ago. The Bulldogs will host Franklinton on Sept. 7 before traveling to Denham Springs on Sept. 14.

“We have a tough pre-district schedule and we will know about ourselves early on as a result,” Blocker said. “We know we have to experience success early and we have good opponents to measure ourselves against.”

District 6-5A play opens on Sept. 21 with the battle for city supremacy at Mandeville before the Bulldogs host Northshore Sept. 28. After traveling to Hammond, Fontainebleau hosts Covington on Oct. 12, heads to Ponchatoula on Oct. 19, entertains Slidell on Oct. 26 and closes the regular season at St. Paul on Nov. 2.

“Year in and year out, it is a competitive league,” Blocker. “St. Paul, Mandeville and Ponchatoula are always tough. Covington has been really good recently. Slidell has a ton of talent returning and they will be stout. Hammond is improving. Coach (Steve) Jones has really improved their program. You cannot take anyone lightly. We have our work cut out for us.”

With an experienced team, look for Fontainebleau to be much improved and in the middle of the battle for high district honors in 2018.


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