McDonogh 35, Jesuit take positives from back-and-forth scrimmage
McDonogh 35 is expected to be an elite team, a genuine contender for Class 4A state honors this season. For Jesuit, the expectations are not very high, with most observers figuring on the Blue Jays being in the middle of the pack in District 9-5A.
While the Roneagles are certain to live up to expectations in 2017, it would be wise for opponents not to sleep on Jesuit this year, based on the performance of both teams in a Thursday afternoon scrimmage at Tad Gormley Stadium.
The Blue Jays rallied in the game condition, final phase of the scrimmage to score twice and outscored the Roneagles four touchdowns to three on the evening.
Both teams started nicely on offense.
Jesuit drove 63 yards in 14 plays on its opening drive but failed to score. McDonogh 35 had a nice drive as well on its opening drive, going 50 yards in 10 plays but did not score.
The Roneagles struck first, scoring on an eight yard touchdown pass from quarterback LiJohn Howard to Jared Miles.
In the first phase of reserves against reserves, Jesuit struck as Connor Bendeck connected with Jack Besh on a 19-yard scoring toss.
With first teams back on the field, McDonogh 35 scored on a 13-yard pass from Howard to Lawrence Keys before the duo struck again on the next series on a 29-yard touchdown reception by Keys from Howard, beating double coverage.
Once again, the Blue Jays won in the next reserve phase as Luke Laforge hit Will Moran on a 20-yard touchdown pass.
In the game condition segment, the Jesuit starting offense awakened in huge fashion, scoring on both possessions. The Blue Jays went 70 yards in just four plays as Alex Watermeier hit Robert McMahon on a 67-yard completion to the Roneagles two-yard line and Willie Robinson scored on the next play. Max Schuerich converted the extra point.
After its defense got a stop, the Blue Jay offense drove 92 yards in seven plays with Watermeier hitting Noah Varnado on a 26-yard touchdown pass. Christian McClure kicked the extra point.
After a slow start, Watermeier came on strong, completing 15-of-27 for 247 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Drew Black had four catches for 28 yards. Robert McMahon had four catches for 49 yards. Noah Varnado caught three passes for 58 yards and rushed once for nine yards. Willie Robinson rushed five times for 22 yards and a touchdown. Michael Torry rushed 10 times for 42 yards. Matt Alexander carried eight times for 33 yards.
For McDonogh 35, Howard completed 18-of-29 passes for 284 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Keys had seven receptions for 105 yards and two touchdowns. Caleb Ezidore had three catches for 60 yards. Miles had three catches for 40 yards and a score.
The McDonogh 35 defense had five sacks and prized defensive back Joe Foucha was all over the field, pursuing well and defensing a pair of passes. The Jesuit defense stopped the run throughout and Michael Hull and Cameron Helm each recorded an interception.
Jesuit coach Mark Songy was very pleased with his team’s effort overall.
“We started well and ended well,” Songy said. “I was disappointed in the middle of the scrimmage. I think we kind of got into a lull and didn’t really know how to get ourselves out of that. I really liked the way we finished. Our guys fought and we put some plays together. They are a great football team, very talented and very well coached, one of the most talented teams I think we’ll see. Alex is capable of being a really good football player. He comes to work with a great attitude. We’ve got him more consistent.”
McDonogh 35 coach Wayne Reese said it was a mixed blessing.
“I told our kids they are looking in the mirror,” Reese said. “When you start looking in the mirror, you see you are doing good and all of a sudden, you slack. To be a champion, you have to continue to work hard for 48 minutes. In the final analysis, we will be a real good team when we pull everything together. Howard to Keys is good. Foucha is a special athlete, he can do everything. We have a good combination and tough kids. Our defense really surprised me. We are real young and held our own.”
Both teams return to action with jamboree play next Friday night. Jesuit travels to Hahnville while McDonogh 35 takes on St. Augustine at Tad Gormley in the St. Augustine Jamboree.
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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…