Experience should help Cardinals in 2012
Fri. August 24, 2012 at 12:04 p.m. | By Teddy Renois/Staff Writer
Tight end Stephen LeBouef (17), quarterback Benton Arceneaux (9), split end Colby Masse (89) and linebacker Geoffrey Hebert are all senior starters for the E.D. White Catholic Cardinals this season. (Photo by Teddy Renois/Staff)
Winning records and deep playoff runs had been the norm for the E.D. White Cardinals until the 2011 season.
Beset with injuries from the outset of the 2011 season, the Cardinals had to use inexperienced players before their time lending itself to a 4-7 mark and an first-round exit in the Class 3A state playoffs.
E.D. White would like to turn the negatives of the 2011 season into positives for 2012.
Boasting more experience and size on it offensive and defensive lines, E.D. White wants to return to its winning ways.
To do that, the Cardinals will still have to develop younger players quickly, however, this team can lean on the experience it gained last season.
Cardinals coach Kyle Lasseigne said even though he has experienced players returning, it doesn't mean that there will not be changes in his starting lineups.
"We still are trying to put the right kids in the right places. We have a lot of experience coming back, but the players might not be in their same spots," Lasseigne said. "We might have some offensive guys on defense or vice-versa. You never know, even though we have experience, how a player will react to a new position. If there was a positive with the injuries (of last season), it gave a bunch of guys playing time."
The one concern for Lasseigne entering the season is his offensive line. While the Cardinals return veteran players, most are skill position players. Getting his offensive to come together quickly, Lasseigne said, is a key for his team success.
"We've got to develop our offensive line quickly. We have some capable guys, but they haven't been together as a unit," Lasseigne said. "I think our skill people will carry us early. We are not used to saying that, but that is the case. The skill guys will have to hold the road for us while our offensive line develops. That will be a key. We do have some size. We just don't know if they will be offensive of defensive guys. Our main focus is our offensive line, and we want to find five guys that we can trust and go from there."
One of the skill players Lasseigne is counting is starting senior quarterback Benton Arceneaux. He was one of those players that got extensive playing time due to injuries last season.
"A lot of guys were thrown into spots they never thought they would be in. Now, those players are starters," Arceneaux said. "We have a lot more athletes in our backfield, and our offensive line is big and athletic. We lost a lot of close games (last year), but this year, we know what to do to win. All our main players are experienced in clutch situations, and we are looking to get it done."
The Cardinals want to take advantage of its talented backfield with its veer offense.
Senior wide receiver Colby Masse said a better rushing game will allow the pass catchers to make plays on the perimeter.
"It is more of a fun first offense, but we balance it well between the run and pass. Our running game will improve, and we have a lot more talent and that should open up the passing game," Masse said. "We definitely have a lot more experience and talent this year, and we are looking to do better. We came together last year, and no one had experience. This year we have more experience and that should help us."
Similar to the offense, the experience on the Cardinals defense is with their skill players (linebackers and secondary).
An area of strength is at linebacker where all-district performers Geoffrey Hebert and Stephen LeBouef return.
LeBouef said the focus of the players over the summer was to get stronger and become a more physical team.
"Our summer got turned up. Our workouts helped us improve our strength," LeBouef said. "We want to be a lot more physical, faster, and I know a lot of guys put on some weight. People may look at us and say we are small, but we are not small. We think we will have a change of pace with our speed and strength."
Hebert said having a faster and stronger defense will give the Cardinals an edge in games settled by a touchdown our less. E.D. White did not fare so well in those games last season going 0-4.
"We are definitely looking to improve on that. We worked hard over the summer, and we hope that will help us in those close games. We used the summer to get in shape and win those close games," Hebert said. "I like that we had a lot of seniors that played as sophomores. That gives us a lot of experience, and we have some young guys that stepped up over the summer. We are really excited for the season."
To produce a winning season in 2012, the Cardinals will have to navigate through one of, if not, the toughest 3A district in the state.
District 7-3A is home to the defending state champions St. Charles Catholic, and five of the six district teams made the playoffs. Only St. James, which was winless last season, didn't reach the playoffs.
Lasseigne said playing in District 7-3A was an eye-opening experience, and he is confident his Cardinals will compete better and improve on their 1-4 district record.
"St. Charles had a great season, but from week-to-week, anybody could beat anybody. It came down to who made the plays at the end of the game," Lasseigne said. "Unfortunately, we came out on the losing end of those games. I don't see (the district) being any different. It will come down to those same endings. I think we will compete better and avoid putting ourselves in those (losing) situation at times. I think we did damage to ourselves, and we are looking to correct that this year."