Newman ready to meet challenge of huge 2022 expectations
The expectations are huge.
The schedule is appealing but challenging.
The hype is enormous.
Will the results follow?
The plight of Isidore Newman football and its former Greenie player and veteran coach Nelson Stewart is a familiar one.
Stewart was a teammate of Peyton Manning at Newman. The hype and expectations were enormous then.
Now, Stewart has his Greenies poised to chase after the one goal not achieved by his alma mater, winning a state championship.
Newman has been close, reaching the semifinals five times in the last seven years under Stewart.
With a pair of Texas commits and another Harvard commit as part of a good team with experience, the possibility of reaching the lofty goal of a state championship is far from far fetched. It is a tangible desire and possibility.
“It is all about persevering and achieving the goal,” Stewart said. “I think each year is its own entity. We have been close but each situation was different. We have run into really strong teams. I was proud of a lot last year. We have a lot to build on. We are striving to win up front and run the football well. We know we can throw it well. We don’t get caught focusing on the rear-view mirror.”
Newman has been blocked by Lafayette Christian in recent years in Division III.
This year, LCA has moved up to Division II, removing one huge roadblock.
“You understand that LCA is not in our class anymore,” Stewart said. “You have to give Trev Faulk and his staff tremendous credit. They are really good and they will compete very well in Division II. There is no pre-eminent power but St. Charles Catholic is clearly the standard now. They have been there and had success so many times.”
The hype and expectations begin at quarterback with senior Arch Manning (6-4, 220).
The numbers for Manning are obvious.
The maturity as a player and the physical maturity are even more obvious, making Manning perhaps the most sought-after quarterback prospect in the United States.
“He really looks like a senior,” Stewart said. “This is the first time he did not play three sports. He has more velocity than I have ever seen throwing the ball. He has a good mastery of what we’re doing. He has great chemistry with our receivers. He can run well, throws the deep ball well and he is very accurate in the intermediate game. His release is so quick. He has had a great offseason.”
Manning ended the relentless pursuit of relentless pursuers by committing to Texas, as did his start tight end Will Randle (6-4, 235).
“Will is an outstanding player and he and Arch have taken pressure off with their commitments,” Stewart said. “He has redefined our offense. We have had a great run of quarterbacks but none of those had a Will Randle. He is a great blocker, physical, but he is way more athletic. He’s worked hard on his speed and runs great routes.”
The pair will undoubtedly team up frequently this season.
Manning has a second huge, talented tight end to count on in junior Will Loerzel (6-4, 235).
In addition, Manning has a gifted wide receiver in senior Kai Donaldson (6-4, 210). Donaldson is joined on the outside by senior Saint Villere (5-11, 185), who also starred the the Newman baseball team. The other wideouts are juniors Anthony Jones (5-11, 180) and Peter Loop (5-10, 175).
At running back, senior Will Zurik (5-11, 195) is strong and will provide punch for the Greenies.
“Will is incredibly steady and he has gotten bigger,” Stewart said. “He catches the ball well. Eli Friend will share some carries and is an eventual quarterback for us.”
Up front, Newman can count on bruising sophomore tackle Brett Bordelon (6-6, 275), the younger brother of former Greenie Bo Bordelon, now at LSU, and the son of former Tiger star Ben Bordelon.
“Bo is still young and he is big and a true tackle with a good, natural frame,” Stewart said. “He has such a high ceiling.”
Joining Bordelon at tackle is senior Landon Montano (6-0, 220) while the guards are juniors Brandon Wilkins (6-2, 275) and Heid Manning (6-0, 220). The center is senior Nick Lovell (6-0, 235). Wilkins is another standout for Newman.
“Heid is a good athlete who can pull for us and lead the way,” Stewart said. “Nick moves in at center and he is a little bigger. He plays with a good base. Wilkins was a nose guard last year. He has good power. He can push guys off the line of scrimmage. Montano is very smart and tough. It is a group that I have worked with all summer.”
The defensive front is anchored by senior tackle Ramaj Waiters (6-0, 220). He is joined by senior tackle Hunter Claiborne while at the end spots, junior William Daragh (6-2, 205) and Randle will hold down the fort.
At linebacker, senior Henry Hamilton (5-11, 200) is joined by juniors Paulo Guillen (5-11, 180) and Robert Kerrigan (5-11, 200).
The secondary is led by senior corner Austin Guillory (6-0, 180), a Harvard commit, who will be joined by junior DJ Thomas (5-11, 175). The safeties are senior Kearney Nieset (5-10, 175) and Parker Davis (5-11, 155).
“I think we’ve got good players up front,” Stewart said. “Claiborne has moved from guard to the nose spot. He is very strong and smart. Waiters is versatile and we can move him all over. Guilory and Thomas are very good and can play man defense. Kerrigan will plug things at middle linebacker. We’ll platoon as much as we can.”
The schedule will provide a huge challenge to Newman immediately in its non-district slate.
It begins with a trip to a good 5A team in Hahnville on September 2, followed by a home game with traditional rival Riverside Academy. Next is a tough home game with Benton, followed by an intriguing road game with 2A power Many. The Greenies then travel to Pearl River and Belle Chasse.
“Hahnvllle speaks for itself as a big, athletic team,” Stewart said. “It will be a big challenge. Riverside is a rival game. Lee Roussel is a great coach. Reynolds Moore at Benton is a good friend. They beat Hahnville in the 5A playoffs. Many is a really big program. They are big, physical and well coached. Pearl River and Belle Chasse are tough and well coached.”
District 10-2A competition begins on October 21 against rival Country Day before dates with Grace King and M.L. King Charter. The regular season concludes with defending Division III St. Charles Catholic.
“Country Day has a good coaching staff and is always tough,” Stewart said. “M.L. King Charter should be solid as a new member. St. Charles Catholic is the program to beat as the defending champion and Wayne Stein does a great job.”
The bright lights will be shining on Newman all season long. How the Greenies handle the spotlight could determine whether they are a quarterfinal or semifinal team or if they finally reach their first state championship game.
“We understand expectations and bright lights and have had those on us several times,” Stewart said. “We are prepared to handle it and to focus on putting our very best effort and product on the field. If that occurs, it will produce results.”
With an excellent head coach, a good staff and solid players, Newman could be ready to fulfill those expectations.
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…