Although the Isidore Newman Greenies Fell Short of Their Goal, There is Plenty to Be Proud Of In Greatest Two Year Stretch in Program History
by Jace LeJeune
The Isidore Newman Greenies have always been relevant in regards to football in South Louisiana especially since when both Peyton and Eli Manning spent their high school playing days with the Greenies. A guy that has helped the Greenies not only stay relevant, but become a consistent state championship contender is none other than Head Coach Nelson Stewart, who was a former teammate with Peyton Manning. All Stewart has done at Isidore Newman is win. Over the last 13 seasons, Stewart has won 108 games and has led to the team as far as the semifinals. Even with all that the Greenies have accomplished, the team has just been one game short of playing in the nearby Mercedes Benz Superdome. This past season, the Greenies fell short of reaching the state title by losing to the eventual Division III state champion Notre Dame Pioneers football team 48-21. Although the Greenies did not make the Superdome, there is plenty to be proud of for this senior group. For the first time in the Nelson Stewart era, the Greenies have had two straight 11 win seasons and made two straight Division III state semifinal appearances. It is even more impressive that the team has accomplished that feat after winning only six games in 2016. A big reason for the success of the last two seasons has been senior QB Martin Butcher.
Butcher has achieved a lot of success in two years playing in one of the best quarterback programs in South Louisiana. It did not take long for Butcher to put his name quickly on the map. In his junior season, Butcher set a single season passing record at Isidore Newman throwing for 2,447 yards and 23 touchdowns breaking a record that was held by the future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning. It was a record that not even Butcher could even imagine. He even got a pleasant surprise from the football legend himself.
“Breaking the passing record held by Peyton Manning my junior year was an unbelievable feeling,” Butcher said. “It was something that I will never forget. Peyton left me a voicemail after I broke it, which was awesome too.”
Butcher followed up with an even better senior year shattering his older record by throwing for 2,459 yards and 40 touchdowns at the end of the regular season. With a rich tradition in quarterbacks, Butcher will have his name in the record books as one of the all time greats. Over his career, Butcher has thrown for 6,218 yards and 82 touchdowns. In regards to the record books, he stands both first and second in passing yards in a season, most touchdown passes in a season, and most total touchdowns in a season. The 6-1, 190 pound quarterback may not stand out physically, but Louisiana Football Magazine’s recruiting guru Lee Brecheen loves what he sees in the senior record breaking quarterback.
“Martin Butcher may not be super tall or big, but he is smart, has great feet in the pocket,” Brecheen said. “He could help a lot of DI schools that are not offering.”
So far, Butcher is weighing his options. Some of his offers include Georgetown, University of Alabama Birmingham, Western Illinois, Virginia Military Institute, and even a preferred walk-on from Tulane. As both signing periods come closer, Butcher is looking at if these schools meet his criteria.
“When looking for a school, I am really just looking for the best fit and the academics as well,” Butcher said.
Butcher has been a great student in the classroom as he has over a 3.1 GPA and a 29 on his ACT. As a student of the game, he bases his game on fellow record setting quarterback Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints.
“I model my game after Drew Brees because both being 6-0, we have to have good pocket movement and accuracy,” Butcher said.
Like Brees, having a couple of passing records could not be done without a couple of go to wide receivers and luckily for Butcher, he had one in senior wide receiver Murray Calhoun.
Like Butcher, Calhoun has a lot of similar qualities. He may not be the biggest guy at 6-1, 185 pounds, but what he does have is good hands, speed, and exceptional route running skills. He has also set a couple of receiving records at Newman, which is also impressive considering NFL star Odell Beckham Jr. one time played for the Greenies. Calhoun has set records including most all time receiving yards, most all-time receptions, and single season receiving yards. Over his career, he had 81 receptions for 1,364 yards and 21 touchdowns. Like Butcher breaking Peyton Manning’s records, breaking Odell Beckham’s records at Newman is something that Calhoun would have never thought of doing.
“I admire Odell because he went to Newman and he’s one of the best route runners in the NFL,” Calhoun said.
This is another player that Brecheen is really high on.
“I guarantee that DI schools will regret if they do not offer Murray Calhoun,” Brecheen said. “He will be Trey Quinn (Barbe/LSU/SMU/Washington Redskins) at 6-0 tall. He does not hand time 4.45/40 and he may be only 6-0 in height, but he has some of the best hands in the state and he can run. He is probably a 4.5/40 guy that is not getting a lot of respect outside of New Orleans. I think he can go to a Tulane or a ULM or a Louisiana Tech and become a stud. If he goes to a I-AA school, he can start right away. I think he can play anywhere.”
That statement is really encouraging for a guy that is one the fence of trying to play football at the next level. As of right now, Calhoun has received only one offer and that is from Stetson University. If he receives any other attention, then he could be a player that could be a steal for the right school. According to Brecheen, there are other players that could play either at the D-II or D-III level for the Greenies. Key senior contributors for the Greenies such as C/DT Preston Schnell, MLB Liam Rowan, and RB TJ Bush are a couple of players that have a chance to play at that level
Offensively, the team may get the headlines, but the defense has been a reason for the success for the Greenies. Senior leaders Schnell and Rowan have a lot to do with it.
Schnell is a tough two way player at 6-0, 240 pounds. Over his career, he has been named second team All-District and has had six sacks, 21 solo tackles, 24 group tackles, five forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries. Schnell may not be the biggest or fastest, but what he does bring is a lot of passion, intensity, and heart to the table.
“It would be a lifelong dream of mine to play at the next level,” Schnell said. “I’ve worked insanely hard these past few years and given everything I had to one day get an offer from a school to play football. No one in my family has ever participated in collegiate sports so I would be the first ever. Committing to a college such as Coastal Carolina University, Florida State, Tulane, ULL, or any DI school would be an absolute dream. My competitive drive, passion, ability to learn from my mistakes, will to thrive and contribute to any part of the team where they need me to be are my biggest strengths.”
For Schnell, he is looking for his first offer. Meanwhile, Rowan is looking for some more offers as he only has one from Louisiana College. Rowan is a tackling machine as a 6-1, 220 pound linebacker. He led the team in tackles both his junior and senior year including 90 from this season. However, being named team captain was his biggest accomplishment. When people ask him what kind of player he is, his response is to just go back and watch the Assumption game.
“They were a big 4A school with a lot of talent and it was a school that has an impressive record against a lot of the big name schools,” Rowan said. They had a powerful smash mouth run game and I love facing a team that thinks they can run it down our throats. It makes it a little more special when a small 2A team is able to dismantle a big 4A power run team’s game plan. I ended up with 13 tackles in that game.”
Going back on the offensive side of the football, another senior that is trying to get some attention is senior RB TJ Bush. At 5-8, 170 pounds, Bush is another small guy, but his explosiveness, versatility, and vision are all qualities that make him stand out. Bush has had only 192 touches, but he made the most out of it with 1,172 yards and 13 touchdowns. Bush has no offers, but all he wants is an opportunity to play.
“I would love to play football at the next level,” Bush said. “The place doesn’t necessarily matter. Whoever gives me the opportunity will be getting a dog. I just want to show what I can do.”
These players all want to play at the next level, but at the same time, if these seniors wanted a chance to wind the clock and play for the Greenies one more time, they would absolutely take that chance.
“I am going to miss running out the banner with my team,” Bush said. “It feels like going into battle with family and 70 plus guys that have your back. There is no feeling like it.”
“This program allowed me to express myself in ways nothing ever has,” Schnell said. “The coaches and my teammates inspire me everyday to become a better version of myself. All the summer workouts, late night practices, and two a days are going to be missed dearly. I might have hated some then, but now, I appreciate them so much more. I will never forget the lessons I have learned on and off the field.”
The ending might not be the story book ending this senior class wanted, but based off the success the program has had, this group will not be surprised if that better ending comes really soon.
“Granted, we didn’t reach out goal of winning state,” Rowan said. I think being the first Newman team to go to the semifinals two years in a row shows that Newman football has evolved into a winning culture and they’re on pace to achieve great things the way they’re rolling.”
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