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Vermilion Catholic QB J.T. Lege (Photo provided by J.T. Lege and courtesy of the Daily Advertiser)

Vermilion Catholic Senior Trio Sets Tone For Breakout Season

Vermilion Catholic Senior Trio Sets Tone For Breakout Season

by Jace LeJeune

The Vermilion Catholic Screamin’ Eagles have had themselves a very impressive season going 10-3, winning the District 7-1A championship, and going all the way to the Division IV state semifinals as the number one seed in the bracket. It was very successful indeed, but it was not always easy. Entering the season, the Vermilion Catholic Screamin’ Eagles had to adjust to a new coach after previous coach Ozzie Blaze had resigned. The Eagles hired a young graduate assistant coach from the University of Louisiana Lafayette in Brady Thomas as Vermilion Catholic’s Head Football Coach. It was a tall task for Thomas as he had to get the team back to their winning ways after a 4-6 season in 2016. However, there was a lot of optimism as Thomas was a former Ragin’ Cajuns quarterback and he got the chance to share his expertise with one of the best quarterbacks in the Lafayette area around in J.T. Lege. It was very important for Coach Thomas to build a relationship with his talented quarterback coming in since he was a QB guru, but he knew the potential that Lege had.

“With me being a quarterback coach, I had to build relationships with J.T. as well as the other quarterbacks once I got there,” Thomas said. “Whoever was taking snaps for me had to be on the same page. J.T. and I had a very close relationship. We still do to this day. That offense went where he went and we knew a lot of our offensive success was going to come from him.”

Building off a strong junior campaign in which he threw for 2,115 yards and 22 touchdowns, Lege was looking to have his best season yet. That all came to a halt in the second quarter of the first game of the season against Loreauville.

“He got hurt in the first game of the year in the second quarter,” Thomas said. “He was playing really well in that game and then, he hurt his knee.”

Vermilon’s star quarterback had to wait for the news if his senior season was going to be over before it really got started, but luckily, there was a sign of hope.

“When the doctor initially said it was a torn ACL, I was devastated, but later on that week when we did the MRI, I found out that I was able to play again,” Lege said. “I was ecstatic. It was great to hear that I would be able to play my last year of high school football.”

It turned out that 6-4, 185 pound quarterback would be able to return much quicker than anybody else would have realized as he would return four weeks later. Still, the Eagles had to find a quarterback until Lege could come back. Who would have known that there would be another Lege that would lead the offense over that four week period.

“J.T’s younger brother Drew came in and won three of those games,” Thomas said. “It kind of got us on track until J.T. would come back healthy.”

Drew Lege as well as Andrew Marceaux did a great job in J.T.’s absence, but it also helps when you are a young quarterback to have a great support cast around you in such guys like senior WR Kris Constantine and WR/CB Cauy Menard. Both players are a little different from one another, but both have made a huge impact over the course of the season.

Vermilion Catholic senior WR Kris Constantine proved to be the main receiving target for any of the Vermilion Catholic quarterbacks that have played this season during the J.T. Lege injury. (Photo provided by Kris Constantine and courtesy of Mia Bacilla)

Cauy Menard was one of the leaders of the football team. At 6-3, 185, Menard was going to be a factor on both sides of the football at receiver and defensive back. Being the football player that he is and the leader is, Menard made the transition for the betterment of the team to play on one side of the football and pretty much dominate.

“Cauy Menard was the first person that I met when I walked in the door,” Thomas said. “He and J.T. were the leaders of our football team. Cauy has similar size to J.T., but a little bit quicker. He was the type of player that whatever you ask him to do, he is going to do double. Starting out the season, we had him start at corner back and at receiver. As we went toward the middle of the season, we realized how valuable he was on the defensive side of the football so we decided to play him just on defense. We also had other guys to fill on offense so he could go on defense. As a result, he had multiple pass breakups and nobody wanted to throw on his side of the football.”

Kris Constantine, however, was the team’s other offensive star and really became the number one receiving threat for whoever was playing quarterback throughout the season. While Cauy was the leader on the football team, Constantine complemented Menard by bringing confidence and energy to his team.

“Kris is just a fun guy to be around,” Thomas said. “He has a lot of God given ability to catch the football. The first thing that I wanted to work on was his route running ability. At that level, if you can get a kid that can catch the football as well as he can to give him separation with route running, that would really make him more dangerous. He got a lot better at his route running and what made him really special was his ability after the catch. He had the ability to make seven yard hitches into 70 yard touchdowns for us.”

Even J.T. knew how fun it was to throw them the football.

“Kris was our go to guy and his speed was very hard to defense while Cauy was strong going up for the ball, which was a big advantage in the red zone,” Lege said.

A lot of times both players lined up against each other as Menard was the best defensive player on the team as a cornerback while Constantine was the best offensive playmaker on the team. As a result, it made both players better in the long run.

“Each day we would go out and practice 1 on 1 with each other to try to make each of us better. If we made mistakes, we would work to fix them,” Menard said. “As the season went on, Kris continued to excel as our #1 receiver and I began playing only defense so their wasn’t many times we lined up at receiver together. However, I think what made our passing attack so dominant was the fact that so many people stepped up throughout the year. No matter who was playing receiver with Kris, they always stepped up and made plays with their unique skill set which I think was the biggest compliment to Kris’ game.”

“We were both pretty tall wide receivers,” Constantine said. “He is 6’3, and I’m 6’1 so we were both good at jump balls.”

With both Constantine and Menard leading the team to a 4-1 record, they knew they were in good shape heading into the sixth game as their star signal caller was going to make his return.

“When I found out that J.T. could play, I was probably happier than him because he plays a huge role in our team,” Constantine said.

“J.T. is one of the best high school quarterbacks I have ever seen, but more importantly, he is a great person,” Menard said. “He was a captain, a leader and a role model for the younger guys. I am thankful for Andrew Marceaux and Drew Lege for stepping up in J.T.’s absent and leading our team but getting a guy like J.T. back gave our team extra confidence towards the end of the season and into the playoffs.

As the season drew to a close, the Eagles had a lot of momentum finishing the regular season with the district championship, winning eight games, and having the number one seed with their star quarterback healthy and their star skill players at his disposal. After playoff wins against St. Martin’s Episcopal and Ouachita Christian, the team was one step away from going to the Superdome against their district rival Lafayette Christian Academy in which the Eagles defeated earlier in the regular season to help clinch the district championship. However, this time, the Knights won on a last second field goal to send the team to the Division IV state championship and ending Vermilion Catholic’s dream season.

Vermilion Catholic senior WR/CB Cauy Menard did whatever the team needed to do including moving to defense full time at the end of the season. (Photo provided by Cauy Menard and courtesy of Gabby Landry.)

“This loss was one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to experience,” Menard said. “It still hurts today, but to know that we gave it our all is a gratifying way to end the season.”

It was a disappointing end to the season for the Eagles, but it was still an incredible season for a team that quieted a lot of doubters over the course of the season.

“This season was very special for me,” Lege said. “Getting hurt in the 2nd quarter of our first game of the season was very tough for me, but even while I was out my team managed to win games. At the start of the season, the seniors came together and set a goal for the team to make it to the dome. Many people doubted us at the start of the season and said we were only going to win 3 games, but we used that as motivation throughout summer workouts as well as the season and ended up having a great ride.”

“From the beginning our goal was to work harder than any other team in the state,” Menard said. “We were a team that set out to prove the doubters wrong and the biggest thing was we played for each other. I knew every week my teammates were gonna give me everything they had and I tried to do the same for them.

“I’ll remember this season for the rest of my life it was that special, and honestly, I knew our potential from the start,” Constantine said. “I knew that we were a championship caliber team.”

Not only did the season end the Vermilion Catholic senior’s careers at the school, but it also ended for Coach Thomas as he resigned from the school after only one season due to personal reasons. The school has gone back to ULL for the school’s next head coach as the team has hired former ULL Head Coach Kevin Foquier to take his place. All three seniors have a lot of respect for their head coach who helped guide the ship and set the foundation for this program to be successful in the future.

“He was a really good coach,” Constantine said. “He changed the culture at VC.

“He was a great role model and a great coach,” Menard said. “He was someone I looked up too and was always amazed at the football knowledge he possessed. He played a big part in making sure we gave it our all everyday and played for each other. He also helped continue a great football culture at Vermilion Catholic. I am thankful for everything he has done for me and I wish nothing but the best for him in the future.”

“He was one of the best coaches I have ever played for,” Lege said. “He changed the culture around school and the team. The players bought in to what he was saying and we had a great season.”

As far as what the future holds for these three senior players, it is still uncertain, but all three have the ability to play at the next level.

J.T. Lege will go down as one of the best players to ever go through Vermilion Catholic. In his Eagle career, he has thrown for over 4,276 yards and 50 touchdowns while being named 1st Team All-District and two time 1st Team All-Parish. While being a star football player on the football field, he is also a great student in the classroom scoring a 22 on his ACT and having a 3.8 GPA. When he is not playing football, he is playing basketball. Lege has been contacted by a couple of schools to continue his football career, but he has not made a decision yet where he is going to play, but he does have a message that he wants college coaches to know.

“My dad, who is a former high school coach, always told me to be coachable so any coach willing to take a chance on me can rest assured that I would do whatever it takes to be successful,” Lege said.

Cauy Menard was a star player on both sides of the football. At 6-3, 185, he did whatever the team needed to do on both sides of the football and played any role that was given to him exceptionally. As a result, it allowed him to become a versatile football player. He ends his Vermilion Catholic career with 72 tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack, 15 pass breakups, one forced fumble,  and two fumble recoveries on defense while having nine receptions for 71 yards and three touchdowns. Off the field, Menard is a good student as well as he has scored a 21 on his ACT and has posted a 3.5 GPA and is a two sport athlete playing baseball after the football season is over. However, he is still trying to look for his first college offer. Menard has the size and the football knowledge needed to play at the next level.

“My message would be that I am a hard working player that strives to be the best person I can,” Menard said. “I would give it my all every single day to make an impact on a team interested to have me.”

Kris Constantine, like Lege, will go down as one of the most productive players to ever play at Vermilion Catholic as well especially at the wide receiver position. At 6-1, 160, he finished his Vermilion Catholic career with 55 catches for 933 receiving yards and  18 touchdowns while being recognized as 1st team All-Parish, All-District, All-Acadiana, and All-State. Like Lege, he plays basketball and has been contacted by schools to play at the next level including Nicholls State and the University of Findlay. Constantine is a player that can score on any given play with his 4.5/40 speed, hands, and his impressive route running.

“I work really hard and I am very passionate about the game,” Constantine said.

No matter where these three players go in their careers, they will never forget where it all started and will miss the experience of playing high school football.”

“I am going to miss the atmosphere of each and every home game at Vermilion Catholic,” Constantine said.

“I am gonna miss the whole experience of playing underneath the Friday Night Lights,” Menard said. “I’m gonna miss our great fans and the competition that comes with the game.”

“I think I will miss playing in front of our amazing fans the most,” Lege said. “I will also miss the memories I made playing football for VC.”

 

All three players had to go through adversity throughout the season. Lege had to go through a knee injury. Menard had to make the transition to play one side of the football full time while Constantine had to improve on areas to his game to have the type of season he had and become the type of player he is today, but these three seniors went through those obstacles for the betterment of the team and to help set the foundation for a very bright future for Vermilion Catholic football.

 

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About Jace LeJeune

Jace is from Addis, LA but resides in Port Allen, LA. Jace attends Southeastern Louisiana University and is majoring in Journalism. This is Jace's third year as Associate Editor at Louisiana Football Magazine. He is also a graduate from Catholic High School in Baton Rouge where he was the editor of the school newspaper the “Bearly Published.” While at CHS, Jace also announced their football, basketball, and baseball games for the Bruin Broadcast Network which is the Catholic High’s streaming website for their events. On weekends, Jace is the PA announcer for his middle school football games. At home, Jace enjoys time with his family and friends. Besides being a huge football fan, Jace is also an avid NHRA drag racing fan.