Jesuit looks to make move back upward in Catholic League race

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Jesuit senior quarterback Alex Watermeier
Jesuit senior quarterback Alex Watermeier returns for the Blue Jays (Photo: Bill Arthurs).

It was not too long ago.

In 2014, Jesuit made history as Mark Songy returned as the head coach for a second stint, capturing its first state championship in 54 years, its eighth championship in the rich history of the program.

In 2016, the Blue Jays experienced their second consecutive losing season, despite being very competitive against a very tough schedule in a very tough league.

In 2017, Jesuit will have to rely early on a very good front seven on defense while a young offensive line learns and matures.

The offensive line graduated a pair of standout tackles in Corey Dublin and Cameron Maheu, as well as all three of its other starters. As a result, all five starters in 2017 are new and will not be as big.

The tackles are senior Will Shropshire (6-3, 240) and Jacob Kieff (6-0, 225), the guards include Patrick Motes (5-11, 245) and Cooper Arnold (6-0, 230) and the center is Zack Charneco (6-1, 215). Senior tight ends Dylan McKeough (5-11, 200) and Drew Black (6-6, 200) will be important in the passing game.

“I see great effort with our offensive line group and an understanding of what we are looking to get done,” Songy said. “We are young an inexperienced but the effort is there. We have the ability to be a good offensive front but it will take some time. It is a tough position to develop. They are intelligent kids who are willing to do the work. Our tight ends have been a nice surprise, coming along nicely. They aren’t great blockers but run good routes and are good receivers.”

Otherwise, three starters return at key spots, including senior quarterback Alex Watermeier (6-4, 210). Watermeier had good moments last season but was inconsistent. He must be more accurate to recognize the potential that he has. Running backs Michael Torry (5-9, 170 Sr.) and Willie Robinson (5-11, 200 Jr.) return to bolster the running game. Torry will also line up at wide receiver at times.

“Alex has a very strong arm and I think he is much more mature than a year ago,” Songy said. “I think is seeing things better. Chris Lamothe is doing a good job with him. He still has to make better decisions but he is improving. He is capable of being good for us. Torry and Robinson are different types of runners who give us a different dimension. They run smart and they run hard. They are a good tandem to have back.”

The wide receivers include juniors Robert McMahon (6-0 155), Noah Varnado (6-0, 180) and Brenden Berggren (5-11, 160).

“Our receivers played really well in our jamboree with Hahnville,” Songy said. “We have to avoid drops. They are able to stretch the field a little bit. They are a young group with no experience but they are coming on strong, running good routes. They are a lot like our offensive line. They just need more experience to become good football players.”

The defense is very experienced and very good with seven starters returning, six in the front seven.

Up front, defensive ends Matt Frischhertz (6-3, 220 Sr.) and Perry Ganci (6-2, 220 Jr.) return, along with tackles Owen Melville (6-2, 270) and Sonny Hazard (6-2, 295). All were good a year ago.

At linebacker, senior Hunter Faust (6-1, 220) and junior Marc Dougherty (6-0, 225) are returning starters while junior Matthew Sauviac (5-11, 195) will man the other spot.

“I really like our front seven,” Songy said. “I don’t know how many people will challenge us there. I think most teams will spread us out. We can shut down the inside run game and rush the passer. They are a very promising bunch with a lot of experience. They are big, strong kids who can run.”

In the secondary, senior Michael Hull (5-10, 170) is very good and a returning starter while senior Wyatt Candies (6-0 165) should be solid. Juniors Cameron Helm (6-1, 185) and Ethan Kerrigan (5-10, 160) will start as well.

“Our secondary has promise but has to grow up,” Songy said. “They are talented enough and are sharp keys. They understand the scheme and will not be out of place. Michael Hull has looked good and has a chance to be a very good player for us.”

Junior Max Scheurich (5-8, 155) and senior Christian McClure (5-10, 175) will split kicking duties.

The schedule is tough.

The Blue Jays open with extremely talented Warren Easton as one of the oldest rivalries in the New Orleans area is renewed on Aug. 31 at Tad Gormley Stadium. Jesuit travels to Hunter Stadium to face a very good St. Paul’s squad on Sept. 8 before taking on Central at The Shrine on Airline.

“We’re going to have to continue to grow up the first three weeks,” Songy said. “All three teams we face early are very talented. We know they will prepare us for district play. We have Destrehan in week nine as a non-district game as well. It doesn’t get any easier but it will make us better.”

Catholic League play begins on Sept. 22 against St. Augustine, also at The Shrine on Airline before Jesuit faces its oldest rival, Holy Cross, in the Great American Rivalry Series on Sept. 29 at Tad Gormley.

A return to the Shrine on Airline is next when the Blue Jays face a stern test against league favorite John Curtis on Oct. 6 before another signature game on Oct. 13 when Jesuit battles always tough Rummel on Oct. 13 at Tulane’s Yulman Stadium.

The Blue Jays then travel to Hoss Memtsas Stadium to face Shaw, venture out of district to take on 5A power Destrehan and close the regular season against Brother Martin on Nov. 3.

“I think it is a typical Catholic League with John Curtis and Rummel at the top and Brother Martin and St. Augustine right behind them,” Songy said. “It is a physical, very talented league with good coaching. Some teams have inexperience so it will be all about maturing quickly, like our team. We will know how to compete in the league. It will be all about eliminating mistakes and playing sound football.”

If the offensive line can mature and Watermeier can find consistency, Jesuit could surprise a lot of folks in 2017.

“Our schedule is the least of our concerns,” Songy said. “I’m locked in on our football team, bringing a young team along step by step. I really like our fighting spirit, how we work. I’m really excited to coach these guys. They’re a group of kids that are what you get into coaching for. They come to work every day and are coachable. I know we will be competitive and that is all that I can ask for.”

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