Terriers looking to avoid injuries
Sat. May 19, 2012 at 6:37 p.m. | By Chris Singleton/Staff Writer
Vandebilt Catholic coach Brad Villavaso (right) goes through spring drills with players at Vandebilt Catholic High School in Houma. (Photo by Abby Tabor/Staff)
Seventh in a 13-part series
The injury bug didn’t go easy on the Vandebilt Catholic football team this past season.
The Terriers suffered through many injuries throughout the season, losing key starters like quarterback/running back Elijah McGuire, fullback Aaron Smith and others for many games.
As it tries to bounce back for the upcoming season, Vandebilt coach Brad Villavaso is hoping the injury issues are a thing of the past.
“We’ve got to stay healthy,” Villavaso said. “Our depth is not real great. We’ve got a few guys who can come in. If we stay healthy, I think we can be a successful ball club this year. It’s all depending on the summer and how we do in the weight room.”
Villavaso, who is taking over the Vandebilt program after former coach Laury Dupont retired from coaching earlier this year, said the Terriers have been hard at work during spring football drills, trying to improve on a 5-6 overall record last year and a trip to the Class 4A bi-district playoffs.
After watching his team play in its blue versus white spring game on Friday at Buddy Marcello Stadium, Villavaso, who is entering his second stint as Terriers’ head coach, originally coaching the team from 1996-2006 before leaving for an assistant coach job at Ole Miss, said the 85-players on Vandebilt’s spring roster are headed in the right direction.
“I feel like we had a good spring,” Villavaso said. “We got some new things in on offense, and we played great defense the whole time. I saw a lot of good things on both sides of the ball. We’ve got some young guys coming around. We’re going to work hard this summer and get ready for the fall.”
One of those players who are looking forward to the upcoming season is McGuire, who is entering his senior season as one of the area’s top offensive players and college recruits for 2013. After only playing in three games last year before missing the rest of the season with a broken toe and a finger injury, McGuire said he is ready to get back on the field and help his team.
“I really didn’t want to go to any of the football games last season because it was hard to see my team play without me on the field, but being the person that I am, I went and supported my team,” said McGuire, who broke loose on two long touchdown runs during Friday’s scrimmage. “So this year I’m going to try to step up and be a leader like Coach Villavaso wants me to be. I’m a tough guy. I’ll fight through injuries, so I’m going to stay healthy. It’s my last year, so I’ve got to do good and go all out.”
During spring practice, McGuire and Vandebilt’s offense have been adjusting to a new system under new offensive coordinator and former longtime Terrebonne High coach Pat Kee. McGuire will share the quarterback role with sophomore-to-be Bailey Pere.
The Terriers will operate out of the pistol-formation this year, which Villavaso said will allow them to take full advantage of the play-making abilities of their two quarterbacks and other key returners like Smith, who will be a senior and was the team’s leading rusher last season with 753 yards and seven touchdowns, senior running back Devin Knight and junior tight end/defensive end Chase Hawthorne.
“It’s a hard offense to defend,” Villavaso said. “They are going to be times when they (McGuire and Pere) are both of the field. You’ve got to put your best guys on the field. Guys that can make plays. From watching the spring game, those two guys can make things happen. You don’t want one of them holding the clip board, so we’re looking forward to seeing them both on the field.”
While the offense adjusts to a new system, Villavaso said the Terriers defense will remain the same and will return most of its players from last year.
Junior safety Jordan Bergeron said the unit has made progress from last year.
“We’ve been working hard this spring,” Bergeron said. “The younger guys are stepping it up. We’ve got a lot of good, healthy competition. The spring game definitely builds up our confidence level for the season. Our goal is to go 10-0. If we keep working like this, we can achieve that.”
Hawthorne said the Terriers are happy to have a familiar face like Villavaso as coach.
“It’s real good,” he said. “He’s real strict and all. That’s how a coach is supposed to be. He is a great enforcer of the rules. He’s mad about football, and he’s a good motivator. We feed off of that. It really helps us.”
And Villavaso said he hopes that intensity and determination carries into the 2012 football season.
“The kids played hard all spring,” Villavaso said. “They are disciplined. Everybody is working hard. I just hope we can come together and mend ourselves into one, and hopefully by the beginning of next year, we’ll be ready to go.”
Coming Monday: E.D. White Catholic.