Over the last several years, St. Paul’s, Mandeville and Ponchatoula have been the top teams in District 6-5A, with the Wolves being the dominant force. Covington has emerged as a contender as well.
Can another contender emerge in 2016?
We may find out Friday night when Fontainebleau opens district play at Mandeville at 7 p.m.
Mandeville (2-1) has posted victories over Holy Cross (16-0) and Division II power University Lab (35-14). The Skippers lost to unbeaten Barbe 26-17.
Junior quarterback Darren Steele has been solid for Mandeville, completing 50-of-85 passes for 662 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions while rushing 37 times for 182 yards and four scores. Senior Fritz Walker has 27 carries for 149 yards and two touchdowns.
The Skippers have three receivers who have ten receptions or more, including junior Roland Wallace with 16 catches for 174 yards and two touchdowns, junior Lovelle Williams with 12 receptions for 225 yards and a touchdown and junior Taron Jones with 10 catches for 126 yards.
Defensively, senior Jacob Hammant is the leading tackler with 19 tackles while senior Austin Faciane has 13 tackles.
Mandeville head coach Guy Lecompte is pleased but not totally satisfied with what he has seen from his team thus far.
“Their quarterback is playing pretty well and they are well coached and they play with a lot of passion and energy and they are right down the street,” Lecompte said. “Our entire coaching staff is doing an outstanding job. Josh Buelle is doing a phenomenal job with the defense. Steele has done an excellent job at quarterback for us and our receiving corps has played very well despite not having prior experience. Our offensive line is a strong spot for us.”
Chris Blocker has his Bulldogs at 3-0 with victories over Lakeshore (27-17) Bonnabel (33-0) and East Jefferson (45-13).
“We have eliminated mistakes thus far,” Blocker said. “The guys can see their growth from game-to-game. We have to avoid mistakes to have a chance to win this week but we remain pretty confident in what we have done.”
Senior Brandon Akkawi is the top rusher with 525 yards rushing. Senior quarterback Justin Stolberg played well against East Jefferson, providing balance for the Bulldog attack. He has passed for nearly 600 yards and six touchdowns.
Defensively, junior Michael Malbrough and senior Nick Stall are the leading tacklers while Stall leads the team with four sacks.
“They are one of the perennial leaders in the district annually,” Blocker said. “Coach Lecompte does an excellent job. It’s a challenge for us, no doubt, but it will give us a good idea at where we stand right off the bat heading into a tough district.”
Last year, Mandeville shutout Fontainebleau 35-0 at Fontainebleau. The Skippers shut down the Fontainebleau offense, holding the Bulldogs to just 42 total yards. Merrick Nicholas returned an interception for a touchdown while Evan Guillory and Drake Graham added interceptions for the Skippers. Cody Orgerson passed for two scores, including one each to Parker Orgeron and to Walker.
The Skippers have dominated the series of late, winning the last seven meetings. The Bulldogs last defeated the Skippers 19-16 in 2008.
“We can only control what we can control,” Blocker said. “We are aware of the streak but we don’t focus on it. We were not part of all of those games. We are looking at this game as an opportunity. That is the goal.”
“You get an idea through three weeks but there is still a lot of room for improvement in all areas,” Lecompte said. “Fontainebleau is 3-0 and you must respect that. They are an improved program and we understand that. We have to play our best and continue to improve.”