SKIPPERS HOPE TO TAKE NEXT STEP
Consistently excellent. There can be no better description for any football program.
The moniker fits at Mandeville, where Guy Lecompte has built his Skippers into a perennial contender to reach the Mercedes-Benz Superdome the second week of December.
While the Skippers have been outstanding, making consecutive runs to the 5A semifinals in 2011 and 2012, they have not reached the championship game--yet.
Mandeville got to the semifinals in 2011. The Skippers were faced with the daunting task of traveling to powerful West Monroe in the round of four.
The Skippers put a scare into the eventual state champion, trailing just 19-14 in the fourth quarter before succumbing 26-14. West Monroe went on to down Carencro for the state championship.
In 2012, the Skippers raced to the semifinals and had to travel across the lake to take on top-seed and unbeaten Archbishop Rummel. The Skippers played Rummel tough, tying the game 14-14 on a fourth quarter touchdown before falling 17-14 to conclude an excellent season 10-3, one step short of the goal.
The Raiders went on to whip Barbe 35-14 for the state championship.
In his six seasons, Lecompte has led Mandeville to the state playoffs every year, including the quarterfinals in 2007 and the regional round in 2008. Mandeville is 9-6 in playoff games under Lecompte. Based on their recent success, Mandeville has reason for optimism entering the 2013 season.
"Winning is an attitude," Lecompte said. "Continuity is important with a coaching staff and we have a great staff that has been in place for quite some time. The same things are being done from the time they get here until they leave and that is big."
While the Skippers have just seven returning starters, they have the most important starter back in senior quarterback Glen Cuiellette.
The 6-foot, 205-pound Cuiellette runs the spread offense as well as any quarterback in the state. He has already committed to Tulane. As a first-year starter in 2012, Cuiellette emerged as one of the best quarterbacks in the state.
Last season, Cuiellette completed 176-of-318 passes (55%) for 2,491 yards and 25 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. He rushed 111 times for 344 yards and five scores.
"He is big for us," Lecompte said. "That is truly the case in our offense. It makes and breaks what we do. His work ethic and character are superb. He is very, very coachable. He has an ability to keep his eyes down the field and avoid the rush. That is key. He can go through his progressions with chaos around him. That is a huge part of being a very good quarterback. He is the first one on the field and the last one off the field. We may have to give him the keys to the building. That sets the bar for us."
Senior James Treuting (5'11, 200) returns at running back after a very good junior season. Treuting rushed 99 times for 411 yards and three touchdowns in 2012.
"Treuting is very dependable, solid and a good leader," said Lecompte. "He has great character."
While Zach Boudreaux will be tough to replace at wide receiver (68 catches, 1,294 yards, 10 touchdowns in 2012), sophomore Parker Orgeron (6'0, 163) returns off of an excellent freshman season in which he compiled 21 receptions for 314 yards and four touchdowns. Seniors Zac Berrient (6'0, 195) had eight receptions for 80 yards while senior Drew Graham (5'10, 165), along with Nick Peters are new starters, replacing Kyle Pellegrini and Sam Skansi.
"Zach was a big, big contributor for us last year," Lecompte said. "It's hard to replace someone like him. He is as good as I've coached. Orgeron will have to be our leader, despite being young. He will have to step up his game for us."
Up front, senior John Pipes (6'0, 235) and junior Grant Burguillos (6'4, 245) return to provide protection for Cuiellette. Senior Parker Maloney (6'1, 198), junior Tyler Boudreaux (6'5, 290) and junior Jamal Martin (6'3, 250) step in as starters in 2013.
"We have size up front," Lecompte said. "Boudreaux has a chance to be real good while Pipes and Burguillos are good players. They are working very hard as a group."
The challenge is on defense, where only two starters return from an excellent unit of a year ago in Mandeville's 3-3-5 scheme.
The Skippers must replace their entire defensive front, including standout end Vincent Lombardo (10 sacks) and solid nose tackle Patrick West (5 sacks).
Seniors Jeremy Ocmond (5'10, 210) and Nick Rebouche (6'3, 220), along with junior Casey Lockhart (6'3, 200) are the new starters. Ocmond and Rebouche had eight tackles in 2012.
"Rebouche played some for us last year and I'm hoping for big things from him," Lecompte said. "We are looking for good things from Lockhart. We have some young talent that has a chance to emerge."
There is experience returning at linebacker, where senior Mason Lemieux (5'10, 210) and junior Austin Engolia (6'1, 225) return. Lemieux had 68 tackles, including six sacks and two interceptions in 2012. Senior Derek Smith (5'11, 175) and junior Matt Scanlon (5'10, 215) are the other starters. Smith had 19 tackles while Scanlon had 10 stops last season.
Senior Chase Hammant (5'11, 188) returns as a rover to aid the secondary. Hammant had 59 tackles last year. The Skippers must replace standout cornerback Todd Primo, who had 62 tackles and eight interceptions a year ago, as well as Jack Ingalls, who led the team with 129 tackles and had two interceptions. The other starters in the secondary include juniors Tyler Porter (5'11, 165), Michael Neidermaier (5'10, 170) and Nick Cobbs (5'9, 160) and sophomore Jonathan Piconi (6'1, 215).
"Chase is a three-year starter," Lecompte said. "We will move him around. Piconi is a big kid with athletic ability.
The kicking game is strong, led by Graham, who kicked a pair of field goals in the loss to Rummel and had seven touchbacks last season. Graham converted 38-of-40 extra points (95%) and 9-of-17 field goals (52%) in 2012.
"Graham is doing an outstanding job at receiver for us while junior Parker Pastorello has a strong leg and provides depth in the kicking game," Lecompte said.
The schedule is interesting.
The Skippers open at home with Dekaney High of Houston, Texas on September 6 in the Brothers In Arms Classic before traveling to face a very good Catholic of Baton Rouge squad on September 13. The other non-district game is at home against Central Lafourche.
"Dekaney won a state title in Texas a couple of years ago and they will be a very talented team," Lecompte said. "Catholic High is very good and we have a history with them. We played them twice last year and they will prepare us well for district." Catholic beat Mandeville 26-14 in Baton Rouge to open the regular season but the Skippers avenged the defeat, downing the Bears 28-21 at home in the 5A quarterfinals.
District play opens on September 27 at Ponchatoula before a week five home game with city rival Fontainebleau. The biggest game is week six, when the Skippers travel to St. Paul to face the six-time defending district champions. Mandeville hosts Hammond, Slidell and Northshore before closing at long-time rival Covington in week 10.
"We have only beaten St. Paul one time in seven games," Lecompte said. "We had a shot to beat them last year. Covington will be good with a lot of returning talent and they have a new coach. Larry Favre is a good coach and he will be a challenge at Slidell. He can make them a serious contender. Ponchatoula has Coach (Hank) Tierney and they have talent. Northshore has a good quarterback."
While Mandeville will have to deal with St. Paul in district, the Skippers will not do so in the playoffs or with any other private school with the vote by LHSAA principals to split the association in the postseason among open enrollment and traditional public schools. Lecompte is philosophical about the change.
"I just go out and play." Lecompte said. "I don't get caught up in all of that. We have to keep the focus on us and getting better. We have played Catholic, John Curtis and Rummel in the regular season so we have and will compete with anyone. We always try to play the better teams. It makes you better."
If Mandeville can be just a little bit better in 2013, they could make that final step in 2013.