The hope for any team heading into a new year is to play on the final day of the season.
That goal, however, cannot be reached without completing a plethora of tasks along the way, and those are what Brother Martin coach Mark Bonis and the rest of the Crusaders have as their focus.
“I was just talking to our guys about process goals,” Bonis said following Tuesday’s practice. “I’m not really results oriented in the sense that I want to focus on the process. The big thing everyday is we want our kids — whether it’s film, whether it’s practice, whether it’s the weight room — doing their best. We know if they do that every day and come together as a team, individually and collectively we’ll be very special.”
One of those individuals Bonis is extremely high on is quarterback Garrett Mmahat. The sophomore got a chance to gain critical playing time last season after a gruesome injury to starter Drew Martin in Week 7, but Bonis was initially reluctant to thrust the young signal caller into the varsity spotlight.
After a two-week competition, Mmahat saw his first game action in the second half against Shaw helping the Crusaders hold on for a 37-32 win on the road. The following game in the final week of the regular season against Jesuit, Mmahat led Brother Martin to a 16-8 victory completing 9-of-15 passes for 152 yards including a 41-yard touchdown.
Mmahat got the start again in the first week of the playoffs against Scotlandville, and tossed another touchdown for the first score of the game in a 30-0 win. The Crusaders’ run with the 6-foot, 160-pounder finally came to an end in the Division I quarterfinals, 27-23, against a talented Rummel squad, but there was no question Mmahat cemented himself as the quarterback of the future for Brother Martin.
“(Mmahat) did a great job and I think he was a little nervous early on,” Bonis said after Mmahat completed 12 of his 23 passes for a whopping 323 yards with two touchdowns. “The more completions he had, the more confidence he gained and he played lights out. Very impressive for him to do as a freshman.”
“I think (the experience I got last year) is going to do a lot for me,” Mmahat said. “It’ll help me not be too hyped up for the games and gives me an idea of what’s to come.”
“He’s a field general,” Bonis said on Tuesday. “(He’s) everything that me as an offensive coach wants in a guy. He’s the first guy here and the last one to leave, and besides talented, he’s really cerebral in his approach…some of the best ones that we’ve coached here, he’s much further ahead at this point. As long as he continues with the mindset of being the best he can be every day, he’s going to be very special.”
Perhaps the most important aspect of the team that will contribute to Mmahat’s success this year is the continuity along the offensive line.
The Crusaders return all five starters up front including the biggest of the bunch in 6-foot-2, 283-pounder Jayson Montgomery-Scott, and also have both backs returning in senior Chris Smith and junior Jaylon Spears.
“Our offense is a real strength on our team this year because we have a lot of players coming back,” defensive back Nick Turner said. “We’ve got a returning o-line, Garrett’s coming back, our running backs are back and we’re filling in the receiver spots but those guys are pretty good. The offense is going to be really good and the defense is going to carry our weight.”
Receiver is where Brother Martin lost the most talent, but they do have the speedy dynamo Davonn Moore back in the fold, who will also be a key piece of the Crusaders’ secondary and special teams as a returner.
Moore’s presence in the defensive backfield along with Turner, a Georgia Tech commitment, has Bonis confident in a group that will also include another returning starter in senior safety Joshua Payne-Morgan.
“We think our secondary is going to be one of the most complete secondaries we’ve had since we’ve been here,” said Bonis, whose team is working to replace various starters in their front-seven. “We still need to develop some depth (along the defensive line)…We lost three key guys from last year (at linebacker) and we’ve got to grow up there pretty fast.”
Seniors Noah Labbe (6-foot-3, 235 pounds) and Kyle West (6-foot, 240 pounds) will be the key players Bonis expects to rely on early on as the rest of the group gets up to speed.
Brother Martin got its first game-like action in last week’s scrimmage at Covington, and will be back on the field for Friday’s jamboree at Ponchatoula against Fontainebleau at 5:30 p.m.
“I’m excited to see what we can do,” Mmahat said of the upcoming jamboree. “We want to see what the offseason has done for us and see where we can go from there.”