Young talent has Berwick looking toward big things
The 2014 Berwick High School Panther football team. (Submitted Photo/Courtesy of Wade Gussman Photography)
An infusion of young talent has the Berwick football program looking forward to big things.
The Panthers’ freshman and sophomore classes come in with a winning tradition.
When Craig Brodie took over the Berwick program, he reached out to junior high and youth league coaches in the area.
Berwick Junior High and several Berwick-based youth league teams won championships, and now these kids are the Panthers’ future.
“In the past, many kids have gotten lost between junior (high) and high school,” Brodie said. “But now we have the junior (high) coaches, Josh Montgomery, Trevor Richard and Don Jones assisting us, and that has made the transition a lot easier.”
Berwick has 20 freshmen and 22 sophomores that have had a lot of success the last couple years.
On offense, the Panthers will remain a triple option team in 2014.
Senior Jeremy Boudreaux takes over at quarterback. Boudreaux started a couple games last season, so he has some experience.
“At one point last year we rotated quarterbacks so Jeremy is comfortable back there,” Brodie said. “He has really matured, and he understands what we’re trying to do.”
Sophomore Cameron Wiley will back up Boudreaux. Wiley was the starting quarterback on the junior varsity team last year but missed a couple games with an injury.
“We have confidence that if we need him he can handle it,” Brodie said.
The Panthers will employ a host of running backs this season. Expect seniors Braden Billiot and Marquis Rogers to carry most of the rushing load. Other backs in rotation are seniors Draylan West and Justin Morvant, sophomore D.J. Robicheaux and senior Tre Matthews.
“We have a bunch of capable runners, and depending on formation, we can do a lot of different things with them,” Brodie said.
“We switched to this offense in my second year, because we were a spread team, and we just didn’t have the athletes to run that offense,” Brodie said. “But now we have some break-away athletes.”
The big boys upfront this season are junior Blake Bergeron, senior Seth Lejendre, sophomore Trent Hebert, sophomore Bristol Gros and junior Brodi Mire.
“Seth is a three-year starter, Blake is a two-year starter and Trent was a part-time starter last year,” Brodie said. “We have some experience there, and I think they’ll play well.”
Berwick’s wide receiver corps can be explosive. The Panthers would like to get the ball in the hands of playmakers like freshman tight end Kenan Jones, the high jump champion for St. Mary Parish at the junior high level a year ago.
Senior Brandon Naverro and junior Audwin Williams will give Boudreaux big targets outside, while Kenan Jones also will rotate in at receiver along with Morvant and senior Zach Dupuy.
“We have been working on fade routes and simple screens where the defender has to tackle those big guys in space,” Brodie said.
This year, the Panthers will have to play players both ways.
“Unfortunately, we still don’t have enough athletes to avoid having some players going both ways,” Brodie said. “We will rotate (players) as need to keep guys fresh.”
Wil Broussard comes from H.L. Bourgeois to take over the defense this year.
“He has been a great addition; he also ran the weight room this summer,” Brodie said. “He’s all business on the field; he’s stern with the kids, but he’s never loud and they respect him already. Wil will be very important as we build this program. He enjoys working with the kids in the weight room.”
Berwick’s base defense will be a 3-4 with an attack scheme this season.
“We going to be an attack and react defense (read on the run),” Brodie said. “We’re going to play more aggressively, and I think we have the athletes to do that more than sitting back and reacting; we just don’t have the size on the D-line to do that. And it’s not just us. It seems like all the coaches I talk to in the area has the same problem. Big bodies are in short supply right now.”
The strength of the unit will be the secondary, which returns all four starters.
Dupuy, Morvant, Rodgers and Billiot will see most of the action early on.
“Those guys did a good job last year, and we will run the same scheme but add a little more man-to-man coverage,” Brodie said. “We have several kids in the mix for playing time back there like Cameron Wiley and Lorenz Clark. We also have Ryan Hover, Tanner Caldwell and Cody Roberie fighting for playing time. We need those guys to mature because the starters play both ways.”
Billiot was a second-team All-District 9-3A selection a year ago.
The linebacker corps is led by Matthews, a three-year starter and second-team All-District 9-3A selection at linebacker a year ago.
“Tre has experience and he has good motor,” Brodie said. “We expect a lot from him.”
Others working at middle linebacker include junior Lionel Langley, Hebert, junior Tanner Caldwell and sophomores Cody Roberie, Ty Duthu and Cooper Roussel.
“They are going to have to grow up quickly,” Brodie said. “We need them to learn the defense, step in and perform.”
The outside linebackers have caught the coaches’ eyes this offseason.
“We’re excited to see the kind of damage Brandon Naverro and Kenan Jones can create,” Brodie said.
Also expect to see sophomore Orry Arcemont, Robicheaux and West on the edge for the Panthers.
“All these guys looked pretty good coming off the edge this spring,” Brodie said. “It’s a rush position, and we want them to get off the ball and hurry the quarterback.”
Lejendre, who played every snap last season for Berwick, leads the defensive line.
“We will rotate some offensive linemen on the D-line in certain situations and formations,” Brodie said.
Junior Gavin Barrilleaux and West will see situational time at nose guard, while two-year starter and senior Ronald Barrow will be in the mix as well.
This season’s special teams may be truly special, with senior Shannon Theriot working as a kicker.
“She’s a great athlete,” Brodie said. “She was an All-State softball player last year, and she’s played soccer her whole life. During the fall, we had a free day in the gym and somebody got a football out and she started kicking field goals in the gym and I was like ‘Wow.’ The guys were wowed, too, and she approached me about kicking this year and I said come out in the spring and work with Sean Comeaux.”
Comeaux, a former Nicholls State kicker, punter and holder, is the Panthers’ special teams coordinator.
“Sean worked with her and she has some life in that leg,” Brodie said. “She’s a left footer but when she kicks the ball, you hear that thump.”
Senior Rodger Rodriguez also is working as a kicker.
“It’s neck-and-neck right now with those two, and it’s too early to pick one; we will see how things go,” Brodie said.
Sophomore John McCorkle also is working at kicker for the Panthers.
Billiot and Boudreaux are working at punter for the Panthers, although Brodie hasn’t decided on a starter yet.
“Right now, Braden, he’s first string,” Brodie said.
While Broussard is a newcomer to the Panthers’ staff, Paul Gilder, Kenny Williams, Lud Henry, Trey Smith and David Spencer all return to the sideline as assistant coaches for Berwick.
Berwick opens the season Sept. 5 at Delcambre.
Additional reporting by The Daily Review Sports Editor Geoff Stoute