Coming into his fourth season, St. Thomas Aquinas head coach Randell Legette has a aggressive program, going 17-15 in three seasons.
The Falcons went 5-2 a yr in the past, capturing the second District 10-2A championship in as a few years, falling to Dunham within the Division III playoffs in a difficult yr because of the pandemic.
“Everybody skilled issue final yr,” Legette mentioned. “Each day was a curler coaster. We simply labored onerous day-after-day, hoping for one of the best and that we might have a season. I feel that paid off in the long term. It was powerful. You didn’t know who can be out there every day. I feel the youngsters did an ideal job of adjusting and doing what we had been asking them to do. Regardless of dropping a jamboree and a sport, it was rewarding simply attending to play.”
There are key gamers to switch resulting from commencement, together with an excellent athlete in Casey Artigues, positive offensive linemen Peyton Parker and Logan Husser and a strong defensive lineman in Kylen Smith.
St. Thomas Aquinas returns 12 starters from a yr in the past, together with six on either side of the ball.
That begins on offense with senior quarterback Drew Milton (5-10, 165).
Milton was the district Most Helpful Participant a yr in the past. Milton was an excellent defensive participant as nicely and can return to begin at free security once more, the place he additionally earned all-district honors.
“Drew is a superb child, inside and outdoors of the classroom and on the sector,” Legette mentioned. “He has solidified himself as a twin menace participant who can harm defenses.”
The working again place is excellent in addition to a pair of all-district performers return this season in senior Devaki Williams (6-1, 220) and junior Darrius Vaughn (5-10, 190).
“We have now one other younger again in sophomore Kendrell Perry and it’s a actually good group that permits us to rotate and share the load,” Legette mentioned.
The large receiver place options senior Chase Daigle (6-1, 170), who had an excellent junior season. He can be joined by senior Lajalen Jackson (5-10, 185) and sophomore Cace Reed (5-9, 165).
“We have now two seniors in Daigle and Jackson and a younger man in Reed,” Legette mentioned. “The 2 seniors have been a part of our program for a very long time and know what we anticipate. Daigle is a superb all-around participant who will block and catch it and has nice character.”
Junior Nunzio Martello (6-3, 240) is again after incomes all-district honors a yr in the past as a good finish and defensive finish. Martello strikes to deal with this season on offense and stays at finish on protection.
Junior Justin Smith (5-10, 225) is a returning starter at proper guard whereas sophomore Jax Peterman (5-11, 200) is the left guard. Senior Braden Moore (5-11, 230) is the middle.
“Nunzio will transfer inside and assist us out,” Legette mentioned. “We want his expertise. Braden is a senior and Smith received lots of reps final yr. The remainder of the fellows are younger and it will likely be a first-time expertise on the varsity degree for them. The veterans will present steering as they develop as gamers.”
Taking up at tight finish is junior Gaige Truxillo (5-10, 185).
“We anticipate Gage to fill the function nicely for us,” Legette mentioned.
Apart from Martello and Moore, one other two-way performer, the defensive entrance options three new starters, together with juniors Dante Dotey (5-11, 237) and Blaine Schilling (5-10, 170), together with freshman Hunter Gambel (6-2, 170).
“We have now Nunzio and Moore who’re strong whereas Dotey has expertise,” Legette mentioned. “Hunter Gambel has actually come alongside within the spring and summer time and we’ve excessive hopes for him. We anticipate them to deal with the scheme nicely and to carry out nicely.”
Linebacker needs to be a power, with three returning starters, together with two-way stars Williams and Vaughn, together with junior outdoors linebacker Austin Davis (5-10, 185).
“We have now lots of expertise with Vaughn and Davis,” Legette mentioned. “We have now others who will rotate in.”
Milton anchors the secondary, together with senior Danik Reed (6-3, 185) and they are going to be joined by Reed and junior Blaine Schilling (5-10, 170).
“We like our secondary general and the whole again finish of our protection,” Legette mentioned. “We really feel excellent general about our protection.”
The Falcons open the season at Hamilton Christian earlier than a tricky house problem in opposition to an excellent Episcopal group. Street journeys to Loranger and Independence comply with. The non-district schedule concludes with video games in opposition to West Feliciana and Riverside.
District play opens at house in opposition to Northlake Christian Oct. 22 earlier than street video games in opposition to Springfield and Pope John Paul II conclude the common season.
“We begin on the street and Episcopal is nice,” Legette mentioned. “I really feel like West Feliciana and Riverside are conventional opponents who compete at a excessive degree. Hannan is a rival whom we haven’t performed in a number of years. Loranger is all the time very aggressive. Northlake Christian has an ideal coach in James Willis. Pope John Paul II and Springfield can be challenges. We simply want to remain wholesome to win the league and put together for the playoffs.”
Depth can be a key with as many as six gamers going each methods for the Falcons however there’s expertise available for an additional good season in Hammond.
“If you play at a 2A degree, you will have lots of two-way gamers,” Legette mentioned. “Depth is all the time a query mark. I’ve been suggested by some nice coaches to have our second and third degree gamers able to go. These gamers assist you to win championships and we’re working onerous to get them prepared, ready for Friday nights.”
Having misplaced within the opening spherical of the playoffs in all three seasons, Legette is able to see that change this season.
“We have now to recover from the hump,” Legette mentioned. “We have now to go deeper into the playoffs, to get previous the primary spherical. That’s the important purpose proper now.”
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