In his first chance as head coach, Ryan Manale came through with soaring colors, elevating a fraught program at De La Salle to a pair of state championship matches. , increasing the quantity, quality, quantity and awareness of football programming in a dramatic fashion, serving nine seasons from 2012-20, posting a 79-23 record.
Now, Manale takes on the challenge of training in the Catholic League of ranks at a Jesuit degree program, against a host of top programs and top coaches.
The Blue Jays have won eight state championships, the eighth most in prep football history for Louisiana.
Manale was well prepared for the challenge.
As a student-athlete, Manale played at Archbishop Rummel and went on to work as an assistant coach at his alma mater under great coach Jay Roth from 1998-2011.
Manale will have the opportunity to evaluate himself and his program against his alma mater, along with all other outstanding programs in District 9-5A.
At Jesuit, Manale inherited a program that has always been competitive but one that has not won a district title since 2011 and has not been threatened in Division I since winning the state championship. 2014. That was the last time Jesuit had a winning record in the district. play.
“The transition has been fantastic,” says Manale. “The young men we deal with here are elite. They are first-class, well-bred young men. I’m proud to be the first to work at De La Salle and we’ve got a great program and great kids. At the Jesuits, I was never the first there. Someone is always there when I come in the morning for work. It’s very funny. I’m very satisfied.
Jesuit went 5-5 last season and suffered a heartbreaking 36-34 decision to England Martin in the quarterfinals after beating St. Paul’s 35-6 in the regional round.
The Blue Jays return eight starts from a year ago but only have three fouls.
Fortunately, the veteran group started with senior quarterback Jack Larriviere (6-3, 200).
“Jack is special,” said Manale. “When I took the job, I sent him a text about meeting about offense, this is about to change. He responded immediately and we met about changing the offense. He’s an exceptional leader, on and off the pitch. I couldn’t ask for a better start than having a guy like Jack be my full-back for the first year. He’s stronger. He answered every bell. “
There are a variety of options with players competing on the run.
Junior Jaron Duplessis (6-0, 190) can start while sophomores Patrick Berrigan and Landon Garcia will join.
“Running backwards is a committee,” says Manale. “Jaron will get the first crack. Berrigan and Garcia will play. We have a baseball player in Gates Barre’ who will be added to the mix, along with Harry Reinhardt. We actually have a stable. It’s a contest to see who steps up. The Jesuits haven’t been doing so well for a few years. “
In a wide angle, junior Jace Larsen (6-0, 150) returns to make up for the loss of star Luke Besh upon graduation. The other recipients were seniors Matthew Reeder (6-3, 185) and Jason Thompson (6-0, 165) while tight finishers were senior Chance Whitfield (6-4, 230) and junior Hollis McDaniel (6-3, 205).
Manale said: “Jace Larsen has had a great summer. “We have a couple of big end points that can line up everywhere in Whitfield and McDaniel. Reeder is a senior will. We have Keith Pittman, who came from baseball when they ended up with the American Legion. Thompson is a junior will play. We also have Jack Lo (6-1, 175) coming out of basketball.”
Up front, the Blue Jays have a starting pair back in the base Roland Waguespack (6-3, 250) and Joshua Berault senior (6-4, 280).
Other starters are veteran Jack Gasquet (5-11, 260), along with juniors Jonathan Rouse (5-10, 230) and Dondi Davis (5-10, 235).
“We have to build depth up front,” says Manale. “Berault is a senior of his caliber and ability and he gets better every day. Waguespack will be the remaining solution and he has developed nicely. Rouse is our center while Gasquet and Davis will play the defense. We have to keep getting stronger. We need to really focus on this area if we want to be successful.”
There is more experience on the defensive side of the ball with five players starting back.
At the front, senior Andrew Besh (6-2, 210) returns and he will be joined by seniors Parker Peyronnin (5-11, 180) and William Pouyadou (6-4, 215). Sophomore Spencer Lanosga (6-0, 275) was very good as a freshman and has a great future.
Manale said: “Spencer spent most of the summer with wrestling. “We know he can play. We expect things from him. On the other hand, we have people who work hard but are a bit below Jesuit standards but they are well trained. Besh, Joseph Barnett (6-1, 240) and Christian Jackson, Peyronnin and Pouyadou are the seniors who will compete. Senior Braden Helm will also compete. “
Linebacker is the strong point of the defense, with all three players starting a year before last season, led by seniors Dennis Dougherty (6-1, 230) and Jake Cannizaro (5-10, 185), and with juniors Dominic. Loguidice (6-0, 205).
“We have great leadership at the linebacker,” says Manale. “Dougherty is a veteran leader while Loguidice is a leader. Cannizaro will play outside. Those people are our program leaders. They are physically strong and well trained. It’s a team that’s willing to dedicate themselves at a high level.”
Tyler Autin (5-11, 195) is the only comeback starter in second place, and juniors will be joined by senior Will Graham (6-0, 160), along with junior Nick Jacobs (6- 0.175) and Nicholas Foley (5-11, 174).
Manale said: “Jacobs has gone from being safe to being in the dark. “We like his length and we like the way he moves. Foley has also moved from the safe and we like him. Senior Caleb Tolbert (6-0, 160) will play there. Autin is working very hard and is a great guy. Graham is the senior and senior Alex Valdes will see the time as well.”
The match was very solid when junior player Aidan Corbello (5-9, 160) and junior pitcher William Hudlow (6-0, 200) returned.
Jesuit opened the season on the road at Woodlawn of Baton Rouge on September 3 before hosting a rematch against St. Paul at Tad Gormley Stadium. Blue Jays play in Metairie with Riverdale for the third week.
Manale said: “We are worried about Woodlawn’s fitness. “They have special athletes. St. Paul’s has always been tough and we beat them in the knockouts when they came out of COVID, so we knew they would be ready for us. We expect Riverdale to be capable.”
The Catholic Association’s match begins September 24 with Brother Martin before the annual Great Cavalry of America against the Holy Cross.
After that, the Jesuit will celebrate St. Augustine and will host John Curtis Christian.
The Blue Jays will meet Archbishop Shaw in week eight before hosting HL Bourgeois in a non-district competition in week nine. The finale of the regular season sees the Jesuits host the event for Archbishop Rummel on November 5.
“St. Aug is the wildest, most gifted or talented card of any team,” said Manale. “Mr. Martin and John Curtis, I think they’re at the top this year. Rummel is young but they have great young players and they are always a quality team. The Holy Cross is becoming physically stronger. Shaw beat us 7v7 this summer,” said Manale. “They are much improved. We will have to be efficient, disciplined.”
Manale enjoys the challenge of the tournament, molded by a pair of great coaches.
“Returning to the Catholic Federation is something special,” says Manale. “My growth as a coach under Jay Roth at Rummel. Moving to De La Salle, I have learned and grown as a coach”.
In addition to Roth, another coach helped Manale become the coach he is today.
Manale said: “The best thing that happened to me was to join an alliance with Frank Monica in St. Charles Catholic. “His team can always expose you. They have been trained very well. We got the whips very early on and then got into them and I’ve been a coach ever since. This league has nothing but great coaches and programs.”
What does it take to get the Jesuits back to winning big?
Manale said: “It’s back to the roots, we’re not there yet but I’m very pleased with the kids. “It will be a process. We have to become stronger. We had to build some depth in the trenches and we had to find a main road running back.
With so many beginners and a new coach, it seems like the Jesuits might have a learning curve but with a tradition of excellence and excellent coaching, expect the Blue Jays to be competitive and don’t surprised if the Jesuits surprised many observers with its results.
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