Holy Cross Tigers
By Lee Brecheen
Head Coach: Scott Wattigny (1st year)
2022 Record: 3-8
Class & District: Class 5A (District 9)
2022 Playoffs: Lost to St. Paul’s in 1st Round of Division I (Select) Playoffs
The tradition at Holy Cross goes way back to as they produced multiple college and NFL players, with hits most notable being Hank Lauricella, who was an All-American RB at Tennessee and was the Heisman runner-up in 1951. The Tigers have won state titles in football in 1945 and 1963, but they have not made it to the state championship since 1967 and have not won the New Orleans Catholic League since 2002, which is the longest drought of any current Catholic League member. However, Holy Cross has hired Scott Wattigny to help change the culture and identity of the program.
Coach Wattigny graduated from Holy Cross where was a talented defensive end/linebacker I covered back in the day in the Louisiana Football Magazine. He has 10 family members who have graduated from Holy Cross.
“We are a team that is redefining the culture within the school and program,” Coach Wattigny said. “Offensively , we return plenty of speed and look to find ways to utilize them. Defensively, we expect to be multiple up front so teams cannot get comfortable with us. We will rely on our special teams to help setup drives for us both offensively and defensively.”
Holy Cross will return Cole Canatella (6-0, 180, Sr.), with a cannon arm and a big-time leader. This kid got hurt in 2022 and returned from a torn muscle in his shoulder in less than two weeks for his team last season. Canatella threw for 1,163 yards and 11 Touchdowns in under eight games in 2022. This is his year to blossom and show everything he has. He has great feet, can run when needed and has a cannon again for an arm.
One of the top wide receivers in Louisiana returns for the Tigers in Koby Young (6-0, 180, 4.4 speed) and looks every bit of it on the field. Young reminds me of Odell Beckham, Jr. with his build and speed when he played at Newman High School in New Orleans. Young had 42 catches, 703 yards and four touchdowns as a WR in 2022, would have had more, but played QB when Canatella missed time with an injury. Young is not the only receiver opposing defenses have to worry about as Holy Cross also has a speedster in Krosse Johnson (5-9, 175, 4.38 speed) brings another playmaker for this offense. This kid ran a 10.54 in the 100m in track and might lower that his senior year. One more wide receiver in the room who will play a lot and has a lot of experience is senior Finn Martin (5-9, 165) who is a big-time playmaker in space.
The Tigers return two big-time running backs in Ke’Rynn Smith (5-8, 175) who not only has speed but has power despite his small stature. Smith rushed for 482 yards in 2022 as a FRESHMAN! The run game also returns Claude Johnson (5-7, 170) who missed a few games in 2022 with an injury but ran for 416 yards in limited games and did a great job. There’s talented RB Kayden Andoh (5-10, 180), who would start for most Class 5A programs. At fullback the Tigers have senior FB Kohen Johnson (6-0, 210) to help lead the running backs through the holes.
The offensive line has a chance to be good before season is over with leaders in OL/DE Collin Wensel (6-1, 205) who is a rare two-way starter in Class 5A, OL Brady Landreaux 6-0 230, OL Noah Remetich (6-3, 275), OT Kaden Bourgeois (6-3, 270), center Albert Pumila (5-10, 255) and OL/DL Todd Cole (6-2, 270) who is another two-way starter also. You also have talented TE/FB Derrick Johnson (6-3, 230) an athletic blocker and has good hands.
The Defense will be led by 4 tough linebackers with a lot of experience and gritty players in senior Trent Santos (5-11, 210) who is a big-time tackler, Billy Eaton (6-1, 195), Nick Digerolamo (5-8, 180) who is tough as nails, Collin Wensel and Jake Roberts (5-8, 180) who is another tough kid at linebacker for the team. The defensive line lost a few talented players but returned DE Max Landry (5-11, 205) and Collin Wensel. The defensive line also has John Best (6-1, 210) and Cole Todd (6-2, 285). The secondary returns leader scrappy hitter Matthew Casamo (5-8, 170), FS Devin Woodson (5-9, 165), CB Reece Gordon (5-10, 170), DB Cedric Harmon (5-11, 160), Dylan Hazelwood (5-9, 170), CB Josh Brown (5-8, 160) are all really good defensive backs for this program in the Catholic League. The defense also has two hybrid players in OLB/S Jourdan Johnson (5-10, 180) and OLB/S Tommy Ashby (6-1, 195).
On special teams, they will have a first-year kicker in soccer player Noel Mora. He hit his first-ever field goal attempt made from 42 yards out but he is still learning how to kick the football.
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