It’s a banner season for Mark Bonis and his Brother Martin Crusaders in 2020.
Brother Martin went undefeated 7-0 and won the prestigious Catholic League title for the first time since 2008, taking the top seed in the Division I knockout round.
Unfortunately, the Crusaders had a bad draw, having faced the defending state champion Catholic High in the semi-finals and falling short of their goal of appearing in the state title game for the first time since 1989. Brother Martin’s first and only state football championship to date has arrived. in 1971.
“Whenever that happens, it’s a huge achievement for the people on your program,” Bonis said. “It comes at one of the most difficult years, where the physical and mental toughness of all involved in our football program is revealed.”
However, the direction and consistency of the program is very good.
In 12 seasons, Bonis has hit a record 87-48 and has led his Crusaders to the semi-finals three times, just short of the final goal.
Now, Bonis has invested in coaches who have invested in Brother Martin, with five alumni being part of his varsity staff.
The Crusaders had to replace an excellent offensive line, one of the best in Louisiana, from a year ago. They also had to replace a great camera in Jaylon Spears and a great wide receiver in Austin Jackson, who had moved to Northshore.
The good news is that England Martin has a huge advantage with his starter four years ahead of senior midfielder Garrett Mmahat (6-2, 190).
Mmahat is having a very good season as he has completed 97 of 155 1,785 yard passes and 16 touchdowns with just four interceptions and will be one of the best midfielders in the state.
“It’s a blessing to have such a great young man, an excellent player with an outstanding character,” Bonis said. “His physical skills are superb, among the best, if not the best we’ve had here. He is similar to Jake Broggi as a student of the game. He is capable of doing so many things for us. He sees the defense and knows what to do. That allows us to extend what we do. He’s the sportiest quarterback we’ve ever had.”
In the run back, juniors Torey Lambert (November 5, 193) and Troy Santa-Marina will record the time. Lambert dashed 21 times in 225 yards and three touchdowns last season. Lambert is also an excellent corner back while Santa-Marina can rotate between running back and collecting the ball wide.
Also returning is senior Jordan Thomas (5-10, 195), who rushed 46 times for 405 yards and 3 points last season.
“Jaylon Spears was really good to us last year,” Bonis said. “Torey has come on and played well for us but he will still play in the corner position. Thomas is very explosive. We are very excited for both. Troy will play back and Jordan West is a young player with a good future and also a lot of promise. “
The wide recording position will feature senior Julien Oubre, juniors Chase DePhillips, Hunter Shaw and Austin Tatum, sophomore Joshua Jackson (6-4, 190). Jahron Manning (6-0, 185), a defensive star, can see the time while Jackson is a big target with a bright future.
Another key player to feature in the takeover game is junior Clayton Lonardo (6-3, 205), who took the all-round 400 yards last year.
“I like where we are outside,” Bonis said. “There are no individual stars, that will allow Garrett to arrange the ball around. Lonardo is an outstanding athlete, a great Division I prospect, who can play multiple positions and is our backup midfielder. Jackson is just a sophomore and he’s huge. He is still developing. Oubre is a senior who had a good season. Phillips played last year and he was fast. Tatum is very fast and Shaw can compete”.
Closing tight are seniors Simon Provenzano, juniors Alejandro Ferreyra and Nicolas Malek and freshman Nico Paulin.
“The tight finish has always been important to us,” Bonis said. “Malek has been playing since he was a freshman. Provenano and Ferreyra will play extensively. They are very healthy. Paulin showed a lot of maturity as a freshman. He will be good for us. “
Going forward, Brother Martin will rely heavily on senior Jayson Montgomery Scott (6-3, 315), an Air Force initiator and returnee, along with big senior Michael Braud (6-3, 335). ), a college outlook.
They starred Grant Buqoui and Jayden Shephard, along with juniors Brett Guillory and Sam Harris.
“We graduated with probably one of the best, if not the best, units we’ve had before,” Bonis said. “We have three boys alternating with Scott, Braud and Shephard. We feel good with those people. Buqoui is a true leader from a large British Martin family. Guillory and Harris are very competent.”
The defense is experienced and should be very good.
“Last year we were young and learned on the run,” Bonis said. “
In the front, Brother Martin should be very good. Highlights include Juniors seniors Kai Brown (6-3, 235), Dakota Burns (6-1, 250) and Brendan LeBlanc (6-1, 250) all back and excelling. Senior Andrew Arrilaga will also be taken into account.
“I love our defensive front,” Bonis said. “All of them have been playing since freshman year. Arrilaga will rotate while the other three are featured players. The concern is depth. Burns had a breakout season last year. LeBlanc and Burns are studs. “
Has experience as a linebacker as well with seniors Anton Brown and Ashton Sheperd, along with juniors Rylon Johnson and Blake Ranlett.
“Johnson has been playing since he was a freshman,” Bonis said. “He is the grandson of West Jefferson coach Willie Brooks. Brown is a senior and Ranlett will be playing outside. “
Solid second place, led by Torey Lambert in the corner and Corey Lambert Jr. (6-1 ½, 210) excellent in a free safe position.
Another person who stood out in the deep was Jahron Manning senior (6-1, 195).
Senior Austin Roberts (5-11, 185) will play some in another safe position while the other corners are senior Emilio Garcia and junior Gregory Jackson.
“We have a lot of flexibility in the backline, with guys who can play different positions and do different things,” said Bonis. “We struggled with youth last year but they are smarter and stronger now and have had a great season. They love to move around. Both Lambert brothers are very good. Corey is our leader and our best player. He can do everything you want and we’ll take him everywhere. Manning is very flexible. “
Leyton Liuzza returns as the main kicker while Liuzza and junior Jacob Zimmer will compete for the pitching task.
The fixture schedule is possibly the toughest in school history and perhaps the toughest schedule any Louisiana team will ever face.
The Crusade opens the way against the three superpowers.
The opening goal was at the two-time defending Division II champions St. Thomas More and LSU take on Walker Howard on September 3.
The second week featured Brother Martin in West Monroe, an eight-time state champion since 1993.
The Crusaders then traveled to Ponchatoula to face off against an extremely talented team of Ponchatoula, the defending champions of District 6-5A.
The match between District 9-5A opened with Jesuit, whom the Crusader defeated in a terrifying matchup last season, including in the state quarterfinals.
It doesn’t get any easier when the game with Saint Augustine and the powerful Archbishop Rummel of Division I.
After hosting Archbishop Shaw, Brother Martin ventured out of the school district again to take on defending state champion 4A Carencro on the road.
The last two games of the season were against Holy Cross and John Curtis Christian.
“In building our program, we always try to build a tight schedule,” says Bonis. “You want to try and play your best football at the end of the season. The ultimate goal is to raise the trophy, win them all. If you want to be the best, you have to play the best. By playing these teams, our kids were able to experience what we were like when all the schools were in the knockout stages. “
For the Catholic Federation, Bonis knew it would be difficult.
“The tournament was good, as always,” Bonis said. “John Curtis will always be a favorite. Saint Augustine is extremely talented and will try to get it. I know Rummel is young but it’s a championship show and you know they’re going to be good. Jesuit is solid and almost beat us twice last year. Shaw is definitely improving. Holy Cross is changing the charge and that will be a challenge.”
The skill is there. The fronts are good and the side games and kicks are solid. Coaching is great.
“We have good players, good coaches and very good leadership,” Bonis said. “It’s a fun group to be around. We are excited for the opportunity to play at our best.”
It’s easy to picture Brother Martin winning another county title and advancing further in the Division I state knockout.
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