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Bro. Neal’s Chat with Coach Bonis #8: John Curtis Review, Rummel Preview

November 12, 2021

Chat with Coach Bonis #8: John Curtis Review, Rummel Preview

by Brother Neal Golden, S.C. (CJ ’57)

Two down, four to go in what Coach Mark Bonis calls writing “one of the best stories in LHSAA history for our kids and our fans.” The Crusaders finished the regular season with no losses on the field by belting John Curtis 41-12 last Saturday at Yenni Stadium.

As has become their custom, the Crusaders started strong but, as happened against Holy Cross the week before, didn’t build as large a halftime lead as they could have because of miscues. Martin dominated in total yards (260-18) and first downs (12-1) in the opening half but led only 10-0 thanks to two turnovers inside the Curtis 10.

The Crusaders avoided mistakes in the second half to tally four touchdowns and a field goal while holding the Patriots far below their average points this season. Coach J.T. Curtis praised Brother Martin “for playing extremely aggressively on defense.”

The awesome ground gain was again led by junior RB Torey Lambert who carried 25 times for 208 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Jordan Thomas added 109 yards on 19 attempts with a six-pointer. The other two touchdowns came on passes from QB Garrett Mmahat to junior WR Clayton Lonardo, one of which was a 72 yard catch and run that set the tone at the beginning of the second half and extended the lead to 17-0. Coach Bonis says that the play was intended to exploit another receiver’s matchup. “Garrett liked the matchup with Clayton better than the other one we had set up. He’s got confidence in his accuracy and confidence in Clayton, who made an outstanding catch and run after the catch.”

“Garrett is our point guard on offense. He decides to run or pass every play. I’ve told him that when he makes a decision, go with it. He’s become healthier after his shoulder injury and more confident.”

The Crusaders meet Rummel tonight in the first round of the Division I playoffs at Joe Yenni Stadium at 7:00 p.m. Martin trounced the Raiders 45-14 on October 8.

What are the challenges playing a team a second time? “The defense must change its mindset from the option football we’ve faced the last three weeks to a more traditional style of offense. In the off-season, we studied NFL film of teams playing division opponents twice in a season to learn about their game planning for the second game. We treated each game this year thinking we may see this team again in the playoffs–what things we put into the game plan, what things we hold back.”

Bonis actually prefers playing this week to the bye Martin would have gotten without the forfeits. “I’m very hesitant about byes. Our kids don’t want to be off, and I don’t want to be off. We want to play as many games as possible because that allows you to become better. Whenever we’ve had byes in the past, I was concerned that teams that were playing while we were off were gaining an advantage.”

The Crusaders have started fast in most games this season. “It’s even more important to start fast the second time you play a team. We’ve been stressing that in our preparation this week. We’ve made sure our practices have started fast. They’ve been wounded this year with everything that’s gone on. So they’re locked in and focused. In times of adversity, we change from a team mindset into a family mindset. That’s not a shallow slogan but a rallying cry for our guys. They’re a selfless group. They play for one another. I’m very confident our young men will be ready to play Friday night.”

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