FOOTBALL TOP STORY
Falcons celebrate Homecoming with 52-31 win over rival Northlake.
Saint Thomas senior quarterback Kade Bleakley scores four rushing TDs and passes for two more. Senior Leslie Matherne was named Homecoming Queen at halftime.
HAMMOND—The Saint Thomas Aquinas Falcons celebrated Homecoming and collected a key 52-30 District 8-2A victory over the Northlake Christian Wolverines in action Friday at Pete Valenti Field.
The win improved STA to 2-2 in league play, while Northlake fell to 1-3.
“It’s a good win,” said Falcon head coach Hutch Gonzales. “A week with lot of festivities and all that good stuff, but the important part was to come out here and get a win in a football game. We had a game plan. We felt we had great matchups on the outside with our wide receivers. We have really good skill players, but we’ve been struggling up-front a little bit so we wanted to ask them to do less and put more onus on our skill guys and they really responded. They played well and we our proud of the overall effort tonight.”
Saint Thomas opened the scoring on their first possession in the first quarter as the Falcons marched 67 yards in nine plays capping the drive on a four yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Kady Bleakley. Adam Hetzinger booted the point after to give Saint Thomas a 7-0 lead with 8:03 left in the period. It would be the first four rushing touchdowns for the Bleakley while he passed for two more.
Northlake answered three plays later when quarterback Devon Tott found Glynn Valentine on a hitch pass to the sideline that went for a 63-yard touchdown. The point after was missed leaving the score 7-6 with 6:38 remaining. Saint Thomas responded with a second straight scoring drive marching 70 yards in eight plays for a touchdown. The drive ended with Bleakley going in on a seven yard scamper off the option play. Hetzinger added the PAT to make it 14-6 with 4:09 left in the period. Highlighting this drive was Bleakley finding Brandon Tallo on a 30-yard pass completion that moved the ball down to the Wolverine 40 and then another 15-yard completion to Jaylen Jackson that put the ball at the Wolverine 15 yard line.
A Devon Wilson pass interception for Saint Thomas gave the Falcons possession at the Northlake 46. But Northlake forced the Falcons to punt after Bleakley was sacked for a 13-yard loss. The Wolverines took over at their own 26 and scored three plays later on a 67-yard touchdown run by Nick Morman. The two-point conversion failed and Saint Thomas continued nursing a 14-12 advantage with 11:07 left in the first half.
The Falcon defense got on the board when Northlake quarterback Devon Tott was sacked by the Falcon pass rush and he coughed up the football. SeniorLuke DiBenedetto scooped up the ball and rambled 23 yards for a Falcon touchdown. Hetzinger added the PAT to make it 21-12 with 8:07 left in the period.
Following a Northlake punt, the Falcons took possession near midfield. Three plays later Saint Thomas scored their fourth touchdown of the half when Bleakley connected with Adam Hetzinger on a 53-yard touchdown pass. Hetzinger kicked the PAT to make it 28-12 with 5:34 remaining.
The Falcons were not done, however, as Adam Hetzinger booted a onside kick and recovered the ball giving the Falcons possession at the Northlake 49 yard line.
Saint Thomas took advantage of the short field with Bleakley scoring on a 23-yard touchdown running straight up the middle of the Wolverine defense. Hetzinger added the PAT to make it 35-12 with 4:50 left before halftime.
Highlighting the drive was Bleakley breaking loose on a 30-yard run that moved the ball to the Wolverine 23.
Following a Northlake punt, the Falcons put together an eight-play drive reaching the Wolverine 35. But the Falcons could not convert a fourth-and-1 situation and turned the ball over on downs with less than a minute left in the half.
In the third quarter, the Wolverines cut into the deficit when Morman operating out of the pistol formation took the snap and broke three tackles in rambling to a 57-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion failed leaving Saint Thomas with a 35-18 lead with 8:53 remaining in the period.
The Falcons recovered a Wolverine onside kick attempt at their own 49. Saint Thomas mounted a seven-play, 53-yard drive that was culminated by a Bleakley to Tallo 39-yard touchdown reception. Hetzinger added the point after to keep Saint Thomas a comfortable lead at 42-18 with 5:46 left in the quarter.
The Wolverines kept chipping away the lead, however as Northlake put together a four-play, 56-yard drive that was capped by a Wesley Brown 10-yard touchdown run up the middle to cut the Falcon advantage to 42-24 with 1:41 left. The drive was aided by a personal foul and face mask penalties against the Falcons.
Following a Falcon punt, the Wolverines marched 56 yards in six plays capping a drive with a 12-yard touchdown run by Brown. The point after was successful and Northlake trailed 42-31 with 10:27 left in the game. The drive was aided by a pass interference penalty and a 37-yard pass completion from Tott to Rashaan Duke that moved the ball to the STA 12.
Following the kickoff, the Falcons regained the momentum by putting together a key 10-play, 56 yard drive that ended with Bleakley scoring his fourth rushing TD of the game. Bleakley ran in for the two-point conversion score to make it 50-31 with just 5:52 remaining in the contest. A 15-yard pass reception from Bleakley to Jackson on a key third down conversion highlighted the drive.
Northlake went to a hurry-up offense but turned the ball over on downs. The Wolverines recovered a fumble in their own end zone late in the game resulting into a two-point safety score for Saint Thomas making the final score 52-30.
“We just didn't have many answers for (STA) them offensively, said Northlake head coach Anthony Agresta. “We played much better in the second half and that’s more like a Northlake football team, but we had just dug a hole that was a little too deep for ourselves early. I’m proud of my kids effort. Hats off to Saint Thomas they really did a great job.”
Saint Thomas, now 3-4 overall, will play at Springfield next Friday.
JV Falcon wrap up season with 14-0 win over Hannan.
Saint Thomas defense collected 11 tackles for losses and five sacks.
HAMMOND—The JV Falcons wrapped up their season in impressive fashion scoring a 14-0 shutout of the visiting Archbiship Hannan Hawks in action Wednesday. The Saint Thomas defense collected 11 tackles for losses and five sacks while freshman Casey Artigues led the offense on a pair of 65-yard drives for scores rushing for both touchdowns.
The Falcons got on the board midway through the second quarter using eight plays to march 65 yards with the drive capped off by a five-yard run by Artigues. Saint Thomas went for two with Artigues again doing the honors to take an 8-0 advantage at the half. Freshman running back Hayes Daigle was the workhorse on the drive rushing four times for 37 yards.
Saint Thomas burned up the third quarter with another 65-yard drive converting a pair of fourth downs and scoring two minutes into the final period. Artigues performed the duties scoring on a three-yard scamper. The try for two fell short but the Falcons held a 14-0 lead with just 6:10 left to play.
Falcons and Tigers combine for 91 points.
Saint Thomas Aquinas comes up short 54-37 in scoring fest.
HAMMOND—The math geeks were kept busy Friday as the Independence Tigers and Saint Thomas Falcons combined for 91 points in a key District 8-2A contest with the Tigers earning a 54-37 victory. Independence used a solid running game and a collected three Falcons turnovers to roll up 54 points, while Saint Thomas used an impressive passing attack and two successful onside kicks to tally their points. The win put the Tigers into a tie with the Falcons in district play with each posting a 1-1 mark.
“There is no other way to say it but that we are not a good tackling team right now and have a lot to work on,” said Falcon head coach Hutch Gonzales. “Offensively, the guys are starting to understand what we are trying to do and executing much better. We did a lot of good things in the passing game, and we were able to run the ball with more consistency.”
Indeed the contest was a battle between the ground game and the passing game as Independence rolled up 441 yard on 37 rushes, while Falcons used an air attack to amass 351 yards on 24 pass completions. Senior quarterback Kade Bleakley tossed four touchdown passes with three going to junior Adam Hetzinger who had six catches for 140 yards. Senior Brandon Tallo followed up his nine catch performance last week against Pope John Paul II
with seven catches for 65 yards against the Tigers.
The Falcons dominated the first two possessions of the game forcing a Tiger punt on the game’s opening drive and then marching 68 yards in seven plays to take the lead on a 37-yard toss from Bleakley to Hetzinger with 6:58 showing in the first. Independence answered, however, two minutes later and went on a 28-3 run to go by 18 at intermission. Indy seniors Stephen Jackson and Anthony Mcclain did the damage combining for four touchdown as Jackson scored on runs of 52 and 28 yards and Mcclain rushes of 30 and 25 yards.
The two teams took a break from their scoring spree in the third quarter but more than made up for in the final period as the Falcons scored 27 points and the Tigers tacked on another 26. Indy struck first scoring on a 26-yard run by junior Malik Merrell and that was followed by a Falcon 65-yard pass from Bleakley to Hetzinger.
The Tigers built their largest lead of the contest scoring twice as Merrell scored from 48 yards out and Mcclain on a 34-yard interception return giving Independence a 48-16 advantage.
The Falcons dominated the final six minutes scoring three time sparked by converting two onside kicks, but the Tiger lead was too large to overcome. Junior Zach Gore scored on a six-yard run, Hetzinger collected his third touchdown of the night on an 11-yard pass from Bleakley and junior Tyler Tillman scored on 45-yard toss from Bleakley.
Junior Tyler Tillman and seniors Luke DiBeneditto and Zach Gras paced the defense with Tillman collecting six tackles, DiBeneditto notching four and half tackles and recovering a fumble and Gras with four solo tackles.
Falcons take the early lead and then outlast rallying Jaguars.
Saint Thomas Aquinas opens District 8-2A play with 36-26 victory over Pope John Paul II
HAMMOND—District 8-2A play began Friday and the road teams dominated the action with three district travelers earning wins including the Saint Thomas Aquinas Falcons who outlasted the home-standing Pope John Paul II Jaguars 36-26. The victory evened the Falcons overall mark to 2-2.
“I thought we executed really well on our first three drives, but with a lot of guys playing both ways we got a bit gassed on defense and gave up a couple of turnovers that allowed them to get back in it,” said Saint Thomas head coach Hutch Gonzales. “We don’t have all the depth we would like right now, but this group always gives us everything that they have leaving it all on the field. I was proud of the way they overcame some mistakes and fatigue and finished to get the win.”
Indeed the Falcon offense was working on all cylinders for most of the contest as senior quarterback Kade Bleakley connected on 18 of 28 passes for 242 yards and five touchdowns. Senior wide out Brandon Tallo proved to be his favorite target on the night as the senior collected nine receptions for 170 yards and two touchdowns.
Junior Tyler Tillman and senior Luke DiBeneditto combined with 15 and half tackles with Tillman accounting for eight and a half. Junior Adam Hetzinger added five and half tackles and prevented a Jaguar touchdown recovering a high snap on a punt managing to get off the kick to prevent a turnover in the Falcon’s end zone.
The Bleakley-Tallo duo started the scoring for Saint Thomas as the Falcons took the game’s opening possession 75 yards in seven plays with Bleakley tossing a scoring pass to Tallo from five yards out. Junior Adam Hetzinger added the extra point and Saint Thomas led 7-0 with 8:58 showing.
The Falcon defense pitched a three-and-out on the Jaguars first possession and the Saint Thomas offense rewarded their effort with a four play drive that culminated in a four-yard touchdown reception by sophomore Dustin Dyson. The point after was missed but the Falcons took a 13-0 lead with 5:20 left in the first.
The Falcon defense took center stage again on Pope John Paul’s ensuing possession as junior Tyler Tillman recovered a Jaguar fumble setting the Falcons up at the Pope John Paul 20. The Jaguar defense stiffened this time, however, and Saint Thomas had to settle for a 21-yard field goal by Hetzinger padding their advantage to 16-0 with 2:18 showing.
The early Falcon scoring spree continued just minutes later as Bleakley intercepted a Jaguar pass setting up his offense inside the Jaguar’s’ 45. Seven plays later Bleakley hit Hetzinger with four yard strike with 6:59 left before halftime. Hetzinger booted the point after giving the Falcons a 23-0 lead.
The Jaguars offense got on track to start the second half as they took the opening possession in for a score with Reese Satterlee doing the honors. The point after was missed but Pope John Paul was on the board.
The Jaguar defense delivered on the Falcons next possession forcing a punt and the Pope John Paul offense cut into the Falcon lead again with a scoring drive highlighted by the running of senior Matt Castillo who finished the scoring march with four-yard run. The extra point was missed but the Jaguars were closer at 23-12.
The Falcon offense responded on the next possession with Bleakley going back to Tallo connecting for an 10-yard touchdown giving Saint Thomas a 29-12 lead with 11:54 left in the contest. Not done yet, Bleakley padded the Falcon lead minutes later with another touchdown toss. This time to senior Jacob Becerra and with the Hetzinger kick the Falcon held a commanding 36-12 lead.
Saint Thomas would need the big advantage as the Jaguars found the end zone two more times in the final period with Pope John Paul adding a pair of scoring drives before time expired.
JV Falcons score a 28-8 win over the Jaguars with an impressive run game.
Freshman Casey Artigues and junior Zach Gore combine for 269 yards rushing and three interceptions. QUICK GAME GALLERY.
HAMMOND—The JV Falcons used an impressive ground game to run past the visiting Pope John Paul II Jaguars Wednesday night as Saint Thomas collected 292 yards rushing to score a 28-8 win.
The Falcons and Jaquars traded a pair of three-and-outs and interceptions to start the contest but with 6:40 left in the second quarter Saint Thomas got their ground game going marching 60 yards in just four plays to take an early 6-0 lead as junior Zach Gore did the honors from one yard out.
Pope John Paul II returned the favor two possessions later converting a third and fifteen into a 47-yard touchdown and then added a two-point conversion to take an 8-6 advantage at halftime.
Saint Thomas retook command of the contest to start the second half marching 65 yards in 11 plays to regain the lead 14-8. Freshman Casey Artigues capped off the march with an 11-yard score and Gore scampered three yards for the two-point conversion.
The Falcon defense pitched a three-and-out on the Jaguars next possession and the Saint Thomas offense cashed in another 11-play drive to pad their lead as Artigues again found the end zone on a 12-yard jaunt. The try for two failed but Saint Thomas had a 20-8 advantage with 6:17 left.
Artigues finished off the Jaguars on the Falcons next possessions reversing field on a run that covered 43 yards and set up a three-yard touchdown run by freshman Mason Dominick. Artigues found freshman Mikel Coston open for two to close out the scoring.
Knights hand Falcons 24-14 setback.
Saint Thomas comes up short in game of field position and miscues.
HAMMOND—The Saint Thomas Aquinas Falcons dropped a 24-14 loss to the visiting Episcopal Knights in a non-district contest played at Pete Valenti Field in a contest of field position.
“Field position was huge tonight,” said STA head coach Hutch Gonzales. “We started on our twenty or less nearly every possession—they did not. One, because of our turnovers and two, we weren’t able to run move the ball in the second half.”
The Knights (2-0) used a balanced offensive attack in distributing the football mixing the run and pass with their Wing-T offense.
Episcopal got on the scoreboard first on their first offensive possession. The Knight put together a no-huddle 13-play, 73-yard drive that ended with a 10-yard touchdown run by Caden Dickinson. Russ St. Romain kicked the PAT to make it 7-0 with 7:40 left in the period. Highlighting the drive was a pair of runs by Chris Hatzis of 10 and 12 yards and quarterback Kaden Edenfield completed three of four passes for 47 yards.
Saint Thomas Aquinas answered scoring on their first possession. The Falcons marched 75 yards in 13 plays on a drive was capped when quarterback Kade Bleakley rolled out to the right side scoring on a six yard touchdown run. Adam Hetzinger added the PAT tying the contest at 7-7 with 3:06 left in the quarter. The Falcons had three third-down conversions to keep the drive going which included a roughing the passer penalty against the Knights on a third-and-13 situation.
The Falcons mounted another drive crossing midfield however, running back Devon Wilson coughed up the ball on a 15-yard gain that resulted with Episcopal recovering it to end a scoring threat.
The Knights capitalized on the turnover mounting a 60-yard drive in 10 plays scoring on 17-yard touchdown run on by running back Cole Carmouche. Russ St. Romain kicked the PAT to give Epsicopal a 14-7 edge with 6:03 remaining in the first half. Running back Chris Hatzis sparked the drive rushing for 37 yards on six carries for the Knights.
Saint Thomas committed another turnover on its next possession. Episcopal's Brandon Garrido intercepted a Bleakley pass attempt at the Falcon 45 and returned the ball down to the 27.
Episcopal took advantage of the miscue scoring on a eight-play drive that ended with a 26-yard field goal by Russ St. Romain to make it 17-7 with 1:46 left to play in the half.
Saint Thomas responded by executing its two-minute offense to perfection. The Falcons marched 80 yards in 10 plays down to the Episcopal 18. Two plays later, Bleakley found Will Hetzinger wide open in the end zone for a 18-yard touchdown pass play. Adam Hetzinger added the PAT and Saint Thomas trailed 17-14 at the break.
In the third quarter, the Falcons punted on their first possession. Episcopal threw a pass interception on its next series as Ryan Dawsey picked off a pass attempt at the Falcon 45. But a roughing the passer penalty negated the play giving Episcopal a automatic first down at the Saint Thomas 39. The Knights would have to punt three plays later as the Saint Thomas defense stiffened.
Saint Thomas benefitted from a roughing-the-punter penalty on Episcopal giving STA possession at their own 40. The Knights were flagged for a face-mask and a pass interference penalties moving the ball down to the Episcopal 33.
But Episcopal's defense held forcing the Falcons to turn the ball over on downs after Bleakley was sacked on a fourth-and 11 situation.
STA punted on the first play of scrimmage in the fourth quarter. The Knights took possession at their own 42 and mounted a drive that reached the Falcon 23. STA's defense stiffened and Episcopal was forced into a field goal attempt. A bad snap from center saw Edenfield throw a desperation pass into the end zone where the ball was tipped and caught in the air by Howell Eglin for a touchdown leaving the score 24-14 with 7:42 left to play in the game.
The Falcons mounted a 10-play drive reaching the Episcopal 10 yard line. Highlighting the drive was a 35-yard gain by Wilson. But a 15-yard loss by Bleakley on a quarterback sack followed by a holding penalty pushed Saint Thomas back to its own 37 facing a fourth-and-goal situation.
Episcopal intercepted a pass attempt by Bleakley at the Falcon 10 ended the scoring threat with 3:07 remaining to play.
“We had some big miscues that we are going to have to get corrected and we'll go from there."
continued Gonzales. “We knew they (Episcopal) were a disciplined football team. Our defense made a lot of big plays. We just have to take advantage of opportunities when we get them and we didn’t always do that tonight.”
”Give credit to Episcopal’s defense as they capitalized on our mistakes, but were going to learn from it and bounce back and come back be ready to play next week,” continued STA defensive coordinator Boomer Nunez. “We didn’t stop their offense to help our offense so we got to get better.”
Saint Thomas (1-1) will travel to play Catholic-New Iberia next Friday night.
Falcons impress in opener with 63-14 win over The Church Academy.
New head coach Hutch Gonzales get his first win on opening day.
HAMMOND—The Hutch Gonzales era kicked off in impressive fashion Friday nigth as the Saint Thomas Falcons opened their season under their new head coach with a 63-14 romp over the visiting Crusaders of The Church Academy..
“We scrimmaged some bigger, established teams before the start of the season that were just better than us, but when we compete with teams on our level physically we can be pretty darn good,” said Falcon head coach Hutch Gonzales. “The guys continue to improve each week and it is always special as a new head coach to get your first win at home.”
The Falcons wasted no time taking charge of the contest. After handing the Crusaders a quick three and out, Saint Thomas marched 60 yards in just three plays as senior Kade Bleakley tossed the first of six touchdown passes to sophomore Dustin Dyson for 31-yards. The point after was missed but the Falcons led 6-0.
The Falcon defense delivered another three and out and Bleakley went to the air again for another score completing a five-play drive with a 28-yard touchdown strike to senior Will Hetzinger. Brother Adam Hetzinger added the extra point to put Saint Thomas up 13-0.
The defense chipped in two more points on the Crusaders next possession as they forced a safety on a punt. Bleakley followed that up on the Falcons ensuing drive with a third touchdown toss this time to senior Jaylen Jackson. Hetzinger converted and the Falcons we up 21-0 after one quarter.
Jackson continued his heroics setting up the next touchdown with a 31-yard interception return to the Crusader seven. Sophomore Devon Wilson cashed it two plays later with a one-yard plunge. The Falcons were not done yet with their first half scoring spree. Bleakley hit Dyson for 69-yard touchdown and with Hetzinger’s point after Saint Thomas held a commanding 35-0 lead at the half.
Saint Thomas opened the second half much like the first as Bleakley connected with Wilson for an 84-yard touchdown his fifth of the night. The Crusaders were dismissed three plays later and Bleakley went back to work this time with a 28-yard scoring toss to Jackson.
A short punt set up the Falcons next score as Saint Thomas started on the Crusader 25 needing just three plays to cash in as junior Ryan Dawsey scored from three yards out.
The Church Academy got on the board on their next possession when sophomore Caleb Kibodi collected a pass and ran for a score. The Falcons answered on the ensuing kickoff as Dyson rumbled 73 yard for the Falcons final touchdown. Kibodi added another score for the Crusaders on their final possession with a 58-yard run after catching a short pass to close it out.
The Falcons will continue their homestand next friday when they host Episcopal.
Falcons scrimmage Newman in pre-season workout.
Saint Thomas will have one more tune-up next Friday in the Jamboree as they take on Saint Charles-Catholic on the road.
NEW ORLEANS—The Saint Thomas Aquinas Falcon football team began preparations for the 2017 season with a scrimmage against Isidore Newman played at Michael Lupin Field in New Orleans.
The field is the same turf where NFL Super Bowl champion quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Eli Manning had played on when they attended Newman in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The scrimmage included a controlled portion and a live 12-minute period with no coaches on the field.
“We had some guys that were confused,” said Saint Thomas head coach Hutch Gonzales. “We had some guys on defense that left wide open receivers in space out there especially on key third-down situations. There just some stuff right now that we have to look back at the film and see who was in the wrong place and get it fixed.”
“That’s good group of football players (Newman) over there,” continued Gonzales. “That’s what this Newman team does in throwing the ball down field a lot. During the timed quarter we were tough up front as they struggled to run the ball, but were gonna have to figure it out in the back end of our defense.”
Saint Thomas was not able to find the end zone in both the controlled and live segments of the scrimmage, but did have opportunites to score.
Meanwhile Newman found the end zone several times in the scrimmage which pitted first and second units of both schools against each other.
Newman's first unit scored on its first initial drive from their own 30-yard line. The Greenies marched 70 yards in 14 plays culminating the drive with a one yard touchdown run.
The Falcons saw its first unit drive come to a halt on a pass attempt that was batted up in the air and picked off. The Falcons had several passes either tipped or batted down at the line of scrimmage. Another drive by the Falcon first unit was stopped by a interception at midfield.
The Falcons’ second unit reached the Newman 43 on solid runs by Zach Gore. However, quarterback Casey Artigues was sacked and then had a pass batted down to end the drive.
Later Artiques was sacked for a loss and threw a interception to end another drive. Saint Thomas returned the favor when Newman’s first unit mounted a drive to the Falcon 45 where Falcon linebacker Terrance Jackson intercepted a tipped pass to stop the drive.
In the game condition segment, Newman put together a 10-play, 70-yard drive that was climaxed by a four yard touchdown run.
The Falcons could not answer as Newman’s defense intercepted a Ryan Dawsey pass attempt three plays later. The other two Falcon possessions during timed play saw Saint Thomas punt and then a Dawsey pass attempt was intercepted in the end zone on the final play of the scrimmage. The latter possession was setup by a pair of Newman personal foul penalties that moved the football down to the 36 yard line.
Saint Thomas will prepare this week for its Jamboree contest against Saint Charles-Catholic slated for Friday in Laplace.
“We gotta another tough one next week against Saint Charles,” said Gonzales. “Our guys will have to respond. Offensively, we need to be more consistent. A couple of our drives we just didn’t finish, and we had too many dropped passes. The focus this week is to finish our drives and make progress. We’re working to get better every single day, and I expect we will.”
Falcons ready to start a “new” season.
With a double-digit class of freshmen, a new coach, a new approach, and a new District, Saint Thomas Aquinas Football will have a lot of "new" this season.
HAMMOND—Saint Thomas Aquinas Football will have a lot “new” this season as the Falcons welcomed a new coach with a new approach, a pair of new teams in the District, and 13 freshmen along with some upperclassmen returning to play on the gridiron.
Hutch Gonzales was named the new head mentor of the Falcon football program replacing John White. Gonzales, who inherits a team that finished with a 3-7 mark last season, was an assistant coach at Lakeshore and Fountainbleau for several years. He played at SLU when football was reinstated at the University at wide receiver.
Gonzales welcomed 45 players to this year's squad and will have 15 seniors dotting the roster. He also will have several new faces coming out for football.
“Our senior leadership is awesome and it’s great to have,” said Gonzales. “We actually have some guys that came out late when they found out that I was coach and wanted to play. It is also encouraging to see a big freshmen class come out because that’s the future of the program. We need to work on the numbers in the junior and sophomore classes but overall our numbers are up.”
The Falcons return seven players on the offensive side of the ball. Gonzales will have a new signal caller directing multiple spread alignment that will feature four wide receivers. Senior Kade Bleakley and junior Ryan Dawsey will be competing for the quarterback position.
Joining them in the backfield will be junior Zach Gore and Devin Wilson at running back. Bleakley and Dawsey will have an abundance of experienced receivers to throw as well. Senior Will Hetzinger returns at the slot position and sophomore Jacob Becerra, senior Jaylin Jackson and sophomore Dustin Dyson all are returning starters at the other receiver spots.
Up front, the Falcons return junior right guard Trystan Gulotta, senior left guard Patrick Davis and senior right tackle Jake Richardson. New starters will include senior Cameron Perrin at center, freshman Kylen Smith at left tackle.
Defensively, the Falcons return 10 starters and Gonzales will employ the 3-4 alignment that features three down lineman and four linebackers. Along the line, the Falcons will have all three returning starters in senior Tyler Edwards at nose guard and senior Zach Gras and junior Justin Deliberto at the end positions.
Seniors Terrance Jackson, Luke Beneditto and junior Tyler Tillman return at the linebacker spots. The lone newcomer will be sophomore Thomas Wiseman.
The secondary will have four players returning with seniors Craivon Lewis and Tyrice Edwards holding down the corners. Junior Adam Hetzinger is the free safety and is joined by older brother Will Hetzinger at strong safety
The kicking game will feature the Hetzinger brothers as senior Will Hetzinger was named All-State as a punter last year and Adam Hetzinger will continue to handle the punting and placekicking duties.
The schedule will have the Falcons opening at home the first two games hosting The Christian Life Academy in week one followed by and Episcopal in week two. The District 9-2A competition begins early this year as the Falcons take on Pope John Paul in week four. The league has two newcomers in Amite and Independence due to reclassification.
“We have a extremely talented district,” said Gonzales. “When you add a team like Amite along with Saint Helena, who won the District last season and has a lot of talent returning, that is pretty strong. But then there is Northlake that is always tough and well coached, and Independence coming down from 3A making this one of the tougher 2A Disitrcts in the state.”
“I feel like we stack up well athletically, we just have to go out there and play and believe that we can play with those teams and if we do, we can make some noise in our district,” continued Gonzales.
Gonzales pointed out in the limited time he has seen in the team’s preseason conditioning and drills what might be a chief strength for his squad.
“Our skill guys are big and can really run, and we are a lot bigger up front than we have been in previous years,” Gonzales said. “We got some better size on both sides of the ball.”
Hutch takes the helm.
Former Southeastern Lion to lead Falcon Football.
HAMMOND—Saint Thomas Aquinas Regional Catholic High School has selected Covington native Hutch Gonzales as head coach for the Falcon football team. Gonzales is a familiar face in Hammond as he played wide receiver for Coach Hal Mumme’s first Southeastern Louisiana University Lions team after the return of football.
While at Southeastern, Gonzales was an All-Conference Wide Receiver. He signed professional contracts to play wide receiver for the CFL Saskatchewan Roughriders in 2006 and for the AFL New Orleans VooDoo in 2011. He has been offensive coordinator for both Lakeshore High School and Fontainebleau High School.
“I could not be more excited to have the opportunity to join the STA family and coach the young men of their football program,” said Gonzales. “My family and I are excited to be back in the Hammond area as both my wife and I attended Southeastern. I am very familiar with the many successes that this program has had through the years and can’t wait to help them get back to the top of their game. This is a great football community and there is nowhere else I’d rather be.”
Gonzales and his wife Ashley have two children: Samantha, age seven, and Max, age four.
Falcons collect post season honors.
Saint Thomas puts 11 on All-District Team and junior Will Hetzinger honored with LSWA First Team All-State selection.
HAMMOND—The Falcons earned 11 spots on the 2016 District 7-2A All-District Team including two first team selections with junior Will Hetzinger headlining the list earning First Team selection to the Louisiana Sports Writers Association All-State Team as the punter.
Senior Jacob Bordok earned first team honors on defense along with Hetzinger who was the first team punter. Second Team All-District honors went to Brad Lewis, running back; Jaylen Jackson, wide receiver, Zach Gras, defensive lineman, Luke DiBenedetto, linebacker; and Cravion Lewis, defensive back.
Seniors Glen Ferrill and Preston Richardson headed up the Honorable Mention All-District selections along with juniors Michael Dickson and TJ Jackson.
Falcons final offensive flurry falls just short.
Saint Thomas rallies from 19 points down to close within two before time ran out.
HAMMOND—The Saint Thomas Aquinas Falcon football ended regular season play with a 17-point offensive burst to rally from a 19-point deficit, but it was not enough as the Falcons came up just short
in a 19-17 loss to the Pine Raiders in a District 7-2A contest played at SLU’s Strawberry Stadium.
Saint Thomas was holding onto the last playoff spot in Division III with a No. 16 power rating entering the contest against Pine. The Falcons (3-7 overall, 3-3 in district) will have to await its playoff fate on Sunday when the LHSAA announces the playoff pairings for all select teams. Meanwhile Pine improved to 6-3 on the season and 3-3 in league play and will make the playoffs in the non-select Class 2A playoffs.
“Our offense sputtered tonight,” said STA coach John White. “But we made some big plays late. I’m so proud with the way we competed for 48 minutes. Real proud of our small senior class. They did a great job. There’s a slim shot we can get in the playoffs. We’ll see how everything turns out tonight and wait until Sunday and see what happens.”
Saint Thomas went three-and-out on its opening possession and had to punt deep in their own territory. Pine returned the punt 12 yards into Falcon territory and mounted a nine-play drive reaching the Saint Thomas 15 yard line. The Falcon defense stiffened and the Raiders missed on a 24-yard field goal attempt with 5:56 left to play in the first quarter.
Later the Raiders were forced to punt deep in their own territory and the Falcons began their next possession at the Pine 44. The Saint Thomas offensive unit could take advantage of the field position after going three-and-out again.
The first turnover of the game came in the second quarter when STA quarterback Tyler Finley threw a interception when Pine linebacker Jakob Simmons picked off the pass attempt at the 38 and returned it 37 yards down the Saint Thomas one yard line. On the very next play, Raider quarterback Joey Seal scored on a one yard plunge. Christian Edwards booted the point after to give Pine a 7-0 edge with 4:47 remaining in the half.
Saint Thomas punted for the fourth time in the first half on its next series. Chris Gordon of the Raiders returned the punt 33 yards down to the STA 26 to setup a scoring threat with 1:31 remaining before the break.
Four plays later, the Raiders scored on a one yard sneak by Seal. The point after was missed by Edwards leaving the score 13-0 with :57 seconds remaining. Highlighting the Raider drive was a 26-yard pass completion from Seal to Chris Gordon that moved the football down to the Falcon one.
Following the kickoff, the Falcons moved into Pine territory when Finley scrambled for a 28-yard gain reaching the Raider 31 yard line. But time expired before Saint Thomas was able to get another play off.
In the third quarter, the Raiders took the kickoff and drove down to the STA 20 on a 12-play drive. However, the Falcon defense stiffened and Pine did not convert on a fourth-and-four situation giving the ball up on downs with 7:11 left to play in the period.
Following a Falcon punt, the STA defense registered a quarterback sack of Seal for a 16-yard loss as linebacker Michael Dickson made the tackle. The defensive effort forced Pine to punt out of their end zone giving STA possession at the Raider 43.
Saint Thomas put together a nine-play drive reaching the Raider eight yard line. But the Pine defense held up stopping the Falcons on a fourth-and-goal situation at the five yard line on a incomplete pass.
Saint Thomas coughed up the football on its next series when Finley had the ball jarred loose on a scramble. Pine's Hunter Temples recovered it at midfield. The Raiders used trickery in a punting situation to convert a fourth down when the ball was snapped to Seal who lined up as a wide receiver. Seal then tossed the ball down field to Evan Sinopoli for a 16-yard gain and a first down at the STA 20 yard line.
Two plays later, Seal ran a bootleg play scoring on a 23 yard touchdown run. Edwards missed the point after, but the Raiders increased their lead to 19-0 with 5:20 remaining to play.
Moments later Wil Hetzinger fielded low snap in punt formation for the Falcons and instead of punting he was able to gain 21 yards to give STA a first down near midfield to keep the drive alive. A screen pass play from Finley to Brad Lewis netted another 22 yards moving the ball down to the Pine 38. On the very next play, Finley connected with Hetzinger on a 34-yard pass that put the ball at the Raider eight. Two plays later, Lewis scored on a six yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion was successful when Finley found Hetzinger in the end zone to cut the deficit to 19-8 with 3:51 remaining in the game.
An onside kick by Saint Thomas was successful when Chris Gordon of the Raiders scooped up the football, but had it jarred loose and recovered by the Falcons at their own 44.
Saint Thomas reached the Pine 15 yard line on six yard drive, but had to give the ball up on downs when Finley threw incomplete to Hetzinger in the end zone with 3:04 left. Highlighting the drive was a 47-yard reception by Hetzinger from Finley that moved the ball down to the Raider 13. Pine intentionally took a two-point safety when Seal was tackled in the end zone to make it 19-10 with 1:14 left.
Saint Thomas received the free kick at the Raider 48. Finley found Dejuan James on a 47-yard seam route up the middle that moved the football down the Raider 12. Finley connected with Hetzinger on the very next play on a 11-yard pass to make it first-and-goal at the Pine one. Finley then sneaked it over the goal from the one line for a touchdown. Adam Hetzinger kicked the point after to make it 19-17 with :48 seconds left to play.
Saint Thomas unsuccessfully tried another onside kick attempt when the the ball went out-of-bounds just out of the reach of a pair of Falcon players at the Raider 42 sealing the Pine victory.
“It was a big win for us,” said Pine head coach Bradley Seal. “We made it harder then it should have been at the end there, but we move on to the playoffs and we will play at home next week. Credit them, they kept taking shots at our defense all night. They (STA) played well.”
Football Top Story
All-State Hall of Fame
Northlake Christian 31
Saint Helena 54
Pope John Paul II 3
District 8-2A 2017
Amite 6-0, 3-0
St. Helena 5-1, 3-0
Independence 3-4, 2-2
FALCONS 3-4 2-2
Northlake 2-5, 1-3
Pine 4-3, 2-2
PJP II 1-5, 0-3
Springfield 2-5, 0-4
District Standings 2016
Saint Helena 9-1, 6-0
Northlake 7-3, 3-3
Pine 6-3, 3-3
FALCONS 3-7, 3-3
PJP II 4-6, 3-3
Hannan 4-6, 2-4
Springfield 1-9, 0-6
FALCONS 14-1, 6-0
District 7-2A Champs
Saint Helena 7-5, 4-2
Northlake 7-4, 4-2
Hannan 7-4, 4-2
Pine 2-8, 2-4
PJP II 1-9, 1-5
Springfield 2-9, 0-6
FALCONS 10-2, 6-0
District 7-2A Champs
Northlake 9-3, 4-2
Springfield 9-3, 4-2
Pine 6-5, 3-3
Saint Helena 3-8, 3-3
Hannan 1-10, 1-5
PJP II 1-10, 0-6
Northlake 11-1, 7-0
FALCONS 9-3, 6-1
Hannan 10-2, 5-2
Springfield 6-6, 3-4
PJP II 6-6, 3-4
Pine 4-6, 2-6
Saint Helena 2-8, 2-5
Mt. Herman 0-10, 0-7
2012 District 8-2A
Pope John Paul II 1-4
Saint Helena 0-5
2012 Season Records
Pope John Paul II 3-6
Saint Helena 2-7
2011 Season Records
Pope John Paul II 9-3
Saint Helena 1-9
Daily Star Sports