St. Michael Warriors ready to take next step
The combination of talent and experience is treasured and sought by all football teams. St. Michael The Archangel appears to have both heading into the 2023 season.
Zach Leger is entering into his third year as head coach of the Warriors. He has guided the Warriors to a respectable 9-12 record in his first two seasons. Leger has gradually improved the Warriors while learning in his first head coaching opportunity to the point of being ready to become a winner in 2023.
“I have learned to coach who and what you can, control what is controllable, and to have fun,” Leger said.
Those principles are setting the tone in practice which should carry over to games this season.
St. Michael has enjoyed some success. Reaching the playoffs 21 times. The Warriors reached the state quarterfinals back in 2015 while claiming a pair of district championships in 2003 and 2019.
Last season, the Warriors finished 4-5 overall and 4-4 in District 6-4A, losing a tough 24-21 contest to Helen Cox in the opening round of the Select Division II playoffs.
Leger is looking to build on the accomplishment by posting a winning season and returning to the postseason and advancing in 2023. He is surrounded by a deep and talented coaching staff.
“it takes a village,” said Leger when describing his assistant coaches. “It doesn’t just apply to raising a family. Having assistant coaches that are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about what they are coaching is key to a successful team. That energy and desire bleeds into the kids. We have that.”
Despite losing 11 players to graduation, including 2nd Team All-District defensive lineman Hayden Knapps and second-team All-District offensive lineman and team captain Parker Mains, the Warriors will return 20 rising seniors as well as multiple talented underclassmen.
Seniors and juniors like Matt Beall, Hays Marrioneaux, Knox Poirrier, Hayden Evans, Preston Sentino, John Martinez, as well as sophomores like Johnny McCarty are all players who Coach Leger expects to step up as leaders this season and replace the role that last year’s seniors played.
The Warriors have committed to a Power Spread offense, looking to space the field out for increased opportunities for large yardage gains.
Key players to watch include starting quarterback Preston Sentino (5-10, 190), who is viewed by Leger as a college prospect. Sentino received the St. Michael Rookie of the Year award last season.
Sentino has solid targets at wide receiver in Gavin Landry (5-7, 140) and McCarty (6-0, 170). Leger considers the duo to be two of his best players. Emerging sophomore Damien Willet should be a solid player as well.
Junior running back John Martinez returns after a solid season in which he earned second-team All-District honors in 2022. Martinez was voted St. Michael Breakout Player of the Year last season.
The offensive line is headed by another future college prospect in Austin Wood (6-0, 285) and talented Beall (6-0, 175), who will man the center spot.
“I am really excited to see what Sentino can do, as well as Martinez and McCarty,” Leger said. “That is not to say we aren’t excited about all of our players because we are.”
On the defensive side of the Warriors’ team, coach Leger feels he has a few game-changers.
Beall (5-10, 225) returns at linebacker after earning first-team All-District honors last season while Poirrier (5-10, 190) is also back, making the second level very solid.
Two of the team’s most talented players are defensive backs Evans (5-10, 150) and future college prospect and Marionneax (5-10, 205).
Up front, defensive end Gavin Knapps (5-10, 189) as another crucial piece to the defense.
The Warriors are switching from a four-man front to a three-man look this season.
“In a perfect world, we hope that all of our players make strides in skill and football knowledge going into the season,” Leger said. “The seniors should be able to give us the effort and reliability we have come to know and trust. We are hoping that underclassmen like Willet will continue to elevate their game and move to that next level and help us win.”
St. Michael opens its season in tough fashion at Episcopal with its only non-district game.
District 6-4A play opens in week two at Brusly as the Warriors alternate home and away games the rest of the season.
The Warriors host Belaire in week three before playing at Broadmoor. After hosting Plaquemine, St. Michael heads to West Feliciana. Next is home game with McKinley, a road game at Tara and the regular season finale at home against Istrouma.
“West Feliciana is the most imposing team in the league heading into the season,” Leger said.
With solid experience and talent returning, Leger is enthusiastic about the possibilities this season.
“We are seasoned, hungry and ready for the challenges that await us,” Leger said.
Click here for more CCS Prep Football team previews (including archives of past season previews).
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Wyatt Audler is a senior in high school at Holy Cross of New Orleans who runs cross country and track and field. He has had a love for sports all his life and hopes to get early exposure into the field of sports writing with the help Crescent City Sports. Wyatt looks to study sports journalism in college and become…