In his first year as head coach of the Vandebilt Catholic football program, Lance Ledet is not shying away from playing top competition – even before the regular season begins.
The Terriers scrimmage Class 5A power and will face Class 3A power St. James in jamboree action.
It is something the Vandebilt players are on board with.
"We are excited," senior defensive back Chris Bonvillain said. "We want to play some of those bigger and better teams so we can be a contender. We can’t play mediocre teams and expect to be good. We are excited about the opportunity."
Ledet became the 16th head football coach in Vandebilt history after replacing Jeremy Atwell, who spent five seasons at the school and had a 29-26 overall record, in February.
Ledet, a Schriever native and graduate of E.D. White Catholic, is in his first season as a head coach after previously being an assistant coach at Brother Martin, Destrehan High School and St. Pius X Catholic School in Houston.
He was a part of state title teams at Destrehan and St. Pius.
"This is a good fit," Ledet said. "I like being back at a community school. The administration has been great. The city of New Orleans is so big. Here it is tight-knit. It is kind of like it was when I was at Destrehan. It has been busy for sure. With no spring ball, it has been tough. Football is still blocking and tackling and I haven’t seen our guys block and tackle a lot yet so there are a lot of unknowns still, but the kids are working hard and buying into the process."
Senior linebacker Chandler Rhodes said Ledet brought with him a strenuous weights and conditioning program that he said will benefit the Terriers, who went 5-6 overall last season and fell in the first round of the Division II playoffs.
"He implemented some workouts that we had never seen before," Rhodes said. "It shocked all of us. The percentages, the workouts, it was like nothing we had seen before. We had to change our attitudes and be mentally tough. We believe in what he is trying to implement. We work hard every day in practice and our coaches expect more than the best. We are pushed to our limits and I think that will give us the edge over other teams. I think people are really going to feel us this season."
Ledet said Gavin Daigle and Jean-Luc Lapeyre are battling it out for the starting quarterback spot.
"I like our receivers a lot, but we all know football is a quarterback-driven sport," Ledet said. "We have two guys there now and someone needs to step up. I think if we get some good quarterback play, we will be able to move the ball. It probably won’t be decided until Week 1. We are going to be multiple offensively and spread the field because I feel like that is where we have our most talent, but we want to be physical and run the football with an (run-pass option) system."
Daigle said the Terriers are feeling confident.
"It has been a fresh start," Daigle said. "Everything has been great, no negatives at all. Any setback we may have, we use it to push forward. Everything has been great with Coach Ledet. "Our goal is absolutely 10-0 this season. Losses are not fun and are not what we are looking for this season. Coach Ledet talks about leadership. We are all working to build that leadership and we know everyone has their role on the team and everyone can get better."
Senior Jacorey Well is back as a major receiving weapon for the Terriers.
"It has been a big change getting used to the offense," Wells said, "but the communication and awareness to be great is a lot better than last year. I think everybody is on the same page. The grind has been different. We have three stating receivers coming back so we are well experienced there. I think we will be tough to stop as long as we buy in and put in the work, everything will fall into place. We are ready to see all the work pay off."
On defense, Ledet said he likes what he has seen from the Terriers so far.
"Defensively, I think we will be fine," Ledet said. "We are young on the defensive line, but I like our linebackers and our secondary. We don’t have much depth so we have to stay healthy. We will be multiple out of a 3-4 and give you an even front as well. We are more complicated on the back end in the secondary."
Bonvillain said while the Terriers lost some key players from last year’s team, others are ready to step into those roles.
"We lost some guys, but it has forced some guys to step up and take leadership roles," Bonvillain said. "We are all getting closer and playing as one. Things are different, but way better. It is so much more intense. We are off to a good start. All the coaches they brought in have been perfect fits."