Fontainebleau looks to rebound in 2022
At one point in time, Fontainebleau was a winning football program and even made it to the Class 5A semifinals in 2004.
The program hit a low point in 2021, going winless at 0-8 including 0-7 in District 6-5A.
That followed a one-win season in the pandemic year of 2020.
It has been a struggle of late for a youthful team.
While the Bulldogs remain a young team, they have experience heading into 2022.
Chris Blocker enters his eighth year at the helm.
Most recently Blocker led the Bulldogs to the state playoffs in 2018.
To get back to that level in 2019, Blocker must have some young players develop quickly.
There is also good news that the new playing field may be ready for the start of the season on campus.
“I feel like we are turning the corner a bit but it takes a little time,” Blocker said. “Experience on the field Friday nights is so important. Coming off COVID made it tough and coming off the Hurricane (Ida) last year hurt without getting any preseason games in.”
Youth was served last season and should be an advantage this season.
“We had a lot of young players,” Blocker said. “We were starting 11 sophomores by the second part of last season. The lack of experience showed but now they have experience. No one is happy with the lack of success and we are ready to change that dynamic. We’re really happy with where we were coming out of spring.”
The offense could be a good one with eight starters returning.
Senior Ronde’ White (6-0, 170) is back to lead things at quarterback.
“It is important to have your starting quarterback returning,” Blocker said. “He is actually being pushed by Ian Burleson (5-10, 150), who is new in the program. We plan on utilizing both at multiple positions which will make us a better offense.”
Running backs Damion Marshall (5-8, 175 Sr.) and Daden Echols (5-10, 180 Jr.) return to provide a strong duo. Marshall had 35 carries for 140 yards a year ago.
“Echols has had a very good offseason” Blocker said. “He is much improved over last season. His hands are improved and his vision has improved. Marshall returns as a senior and is a leader for us.”
The strength of the offense is up front, where all five starters are back.
That includes seniors Mixon Senseney (6-5, 283) and Donald Mulkey (6-2, 290), along with juniors Blake Gisevius (6-0, 235), Fletcher Vanhaelen (6-2, 315) and Jake Cartaginese (5-11, 245). Senseney is a college prospect.
“That is our clear strong point,” Blocker said. “We have guys with extensive playing time under their belts. They work so well together.”
The wide receiver room features all new starters in juniors Jesse Mull (5-10, 160), Andrew Sellers (5-8, 140) and Burleson. Sophomore Nicholas Tubre (5-6, 130) should also start.
“It is a new group,” Blocker said. “There are some surprising things we are doing there. Burleson certainly helps at that spot. Marshall will also line up in the slot when not at running back.”
The defense features a pair of players with size and length up front.
The size belongs to senior Oliver May (5-10, 290) while the length belongs to senior Brody Swan (6-6, 220).
“We are not as experienced on the defensive line,” Blocker said. “We are installing a new defense with a 3-3 look. We feel like the guys we have will fit in with that scheme.”
Junior linebacker Christian Capdebosq (6-0, 190) returns after a season in which he recorded 46 tackles and had 21 assists with six tackles for loss and a fumble recovery.Capdebosq may have a college career in his football future. He is joined by seniors JJ O’Neal (5-8, 185) and Adam Cantrelle (5-10, 175), along with junior Dylan Rucker (5-7, 175).
“Capdebosq played extremely well last year and is our anchor who sets the tone for the defense,” Blocker said. “He is the guy everybody looks to in setting the mentality. He plays extremely tough. O’Neal played fullback and tight end last year and we have moved him over and he’s performed well and should be up to the task. Cantrelle is the third linebacker and we expect him to be productive.”
In the secondary, junior Trent Gagnon (6-2, 180) returns after a good sophomore season where he had 35 tackles, 12 assists, three tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries. Gagnon will be joined by seniors William Tadlock (5-9, 165), Kaleb Holiday (5-7, 160) and Cameron Baham (5-11, 155), along with junior Christopher Martin Jr. (5-11, 155). White will play there as well.
“The secondary is our strength on defense,” Blocker said. “Gagnon, Tadlock, Baham, Martin and Holiday and the entire group are solid and will certainly do a good job. We have guys who are smart players in the deep.”
The kicking game will be very strong with a returning starter in William Rocha, an all-district performer a year ago. Rocha made 4 of 5 field goals and 6 of 8 extra points last season while recording 19 touchbacks on kickoffs. Rocha is a four-year starter.
“Rocha is an excellent kicker,” Blocker said. “There is interest in him from the college level. He is dependable and is an extreme talent and a very good student. He can play multiple positions for us if needed as he is a talent.”
The schedule opens at home against Lakeshore on Sept. 2 before a road trip to Walker. The final non-district game is home against Franklinton.
District 6-5A play begins on Sept 23 at Hammond before the Bulldogs entertain Covington. Then comes a trip to Northshore before a home game with Mandeville. Fontainebleau then heads to Ponchatoula and the regular season concludes with home games against Slidell and St. Paul’s.
“There is not an easy game on the schedule,” Blocker said. “Everyone has had success. Lakeshore has a new coach but it has been a very good program. It’s a big rivalry game and they have gotten the better of us the last few years. Walker is tough and Coach Guy Lecompte will certainly make Franklinton tougher. Hammond is improved. Northshore is much improved. Craig Jones is at Mandeville. Covington is good. Ponchatoula was elite. Slidell is solid and St. Paul’s is always good.”
Fontainebleau is ready to turn the page and to begin winning games.
“As a group, the players and coaches are excited about the progress we have made and what the possibilities are this season,” Blocker said. “We may surprise some people.”
Click here for more CCS Prep Football team previews (including archives of past season previews).
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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…