After Previous Regular Season Success, the Vandebilt Catholic Terriers are Focused on Taking the Next Step
by Jace LeJeune
As one of the most stable programs in the Houma-Lafourche area, the Vandebilt Catholic Terriers have produced in the regular season with a high level of success especially in the regular season under the leadership of Jeremy Atwell. Coach Atwell took over a program and has built it into a district contender especially over the last two seasons. In 2016, the Terriers won eight games and last season, the team won seven. Even though the Terriers have had success over the last two seasons, the team wants to take the next step and find a way to make a run in the always tough Division II bracket which consists of arguably the best team in the state in U-High as well as traditional powers in St. Thomas More, St. Charles Catholic, and Parkview Baptist. Still, the Terriers are optimistic that a lot of success will come their way this upcoming season according to senior offensive lineman William Wade.
“We are all completely in and devoted to this game and school,” Wade said. “We will bring home many victories and play to the best of our abilities.”
No matter how many great skill players a team has, a team’s success will determine how the front five does on the offensive side of the football. In order for the front five to have success, those players have to take over leadership roles and as a four year starter, that is what Wade brings to the table according to Louisiana Football Magazine’s recruiting expert Lee Brecheen.
“I saw this kid start as a freshman and he had good feet then,” Brecheen said. “He moves well and is a very smart kid at 6-3, 300 pounds in weight. I think he can be either a center or offensive guard in college played mostly offensive tackle for his high school team.”
Wade has had a very productive high school career blocking for three consecutive 1,000 yards rushers and being named 1st Team All-District twice and second team All-District once. His size, versatility, and quick feet are all qualities that you want in an offensive lineman. He has been looked at by Nicholls State and Mississippi College as well as being contacted by bigger schools such as Ole Miss and Southern Miss. Still, Wade continues to devote his time into making himself better as a player and better for his team. In fact, he improves on his skills by participating in a specific type of training.
“I like to stay fit as possible,” Wade said. “I recently took up Crossfit in Houma. I also do extra feet drills, lifting, and running in my free time.”
While Wade is improving on his game, senior RB Drew Rios is trying to come back from last season after missing majority of that time due to an injury. The Terriers have been known to run the football with players such as Michael Lecompte and Brennan Rogers, who went on to walk-on at Nicholls State. Now, with both players gone, the Terriers will have to rely on Rios, who is a converted linebacker that is coming off an injury. Needless to say, Rios is finally healthy and has the tools to be just as great according to Brecheen.
“This kid is really tough and when he wants to, he can be incredible as a linebacker or running back for his team,” Brecheen said. “He can play either middle linebacker or fullback in college for the right I-AA program. At 5-11, 210 pounds now, he will be in the 220 pound range or even more in college. This is his year to show his complete game and upside.”
Brecheen is not the only one who believes that Rios will have a breakout season, but his head coach agrees as well.
“Drew is big, strong, has great vision, and burst,” Atwell said. “He is one of those kids that won’t necessarily impress in the 40, but you put him in pads at 195 pounds, he is a north south type runner that can move downhill, but also move well laterally. He is a guy that if we can give him the ball 30-35 times, we will give him that many carries.”
Rios is up to the challenge of being the bellcow after overcoming an injury last season.
“I feel fine,” Rios said. “I still have that ability to make great cuts and have great vision for the holes to run through,” Rios said.
Rios fits the description of what Atwell and the rest of the coaching staff want to do offensively, but whenever they need a big play, they will look at their best playmaker and arguably the gem of their senior class in Brennan Patterson. Like Rios, Patterson is another talented skill player coming off a season ending injury in a win against Archbishop Shaw. Still, he is going to be healthy enough to make big explosive plays for the offense.
“Brennan Patterson is definitely a big time recruit,” Atwell said. “He is going to make somebody extremely happy by taking this young man especially as he continue to recover with rehab and getting back to 100%.”
Brecheen agrees with Atwell that Patterson is a bright diamond in the rough.
“In 2017, he really improved as a playmaker and got bigger at 5-10, 180 pounds,” Brecheen said. “He runs a legit 4.5/40 and would be a I-AA steal as a signee in the state after this season.”
Defensively, the Terriers have another senior named Joshua Barker that is coming along and could really improve his stock by the end of the season.
“Joshua Barker is 6-4, 225 or bigger come when we kickoff the 2018 season,” Brecheen said. “This kid is a late bloomer as he has great height and has a chance to be over 250 easy in college. This is his year to show he is at least a D-III or D-II prospect in the end.”
According to Atwell, he has been impressed with the team’s mental toughness and how they are coming along throughout the offseason and as we head into the start of the regular season. He also believes that there are some underclassmen that are poised for big things early.
“Two of our receivers Jacorey Wells and Hunter Porche have been really impressive,” Atwell said. “Jacorey is going to be a junior and Hunter is going to be only a sophomore. Both of them are unselfish All-District players that can play vertically as well as become good blockers in the running game. Also, there is Chandler Rhodes, who is an inside linebacker for us. He is a junior for us this year and has started since his freshman year. He has been All-District the last two years and is without a doubt the leader for our defense and maybe the leader of our team. He is a no nonsense guy and is a special player.”
The Terriers will also be good on Special Teams with senior kicker Reid Bourg, who is good as they come in his area.
“I think one of the most underrated kickers in the Houma area,” Brecheen said. “He went 8 for 12 in field goals in 2017 and was 48 for 49 in extra point attempts. He has been a starter a long time for program.”
As far as his range goes, Bourg believes that he can kick just about from anywhere.
“My longest field goal was probably around 45 yards, and I kicked it in my 10th grade year,” Bourg said. “I believe that is my biggest strength and playing other sports like soccer and tennis have helped me improve my game.”
With big time skill players like Rios and Patterson coming back and an improved unit overall, the Terriers may be able to hang with the top programs in the Division II bracket. It also helps when the team has been through some obstacles, but still has the confidence that they can get the job done.
“We need to improve on our leadership and trust within each other that we can have a great season,” Rios said.
“There is honestly a much more fun atmosphere this year, and our players are doing extremely well in practice, which hopefully all the positive energy will turn into big plays during the season.”
Despite injuries, the Terriers are confident that they will not only be able to continue their regular season success, but at the same time, make those long postseason runs when November comes around. For right now though, the Terriers are focused to start the season on a good note. They will start the regular season next Friday against Thibodaux High School.
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