NOT SHORT ON DELIVERY
The height of Ascension Catholic seniors Scott Charleville and Josh Thibodeaux is sometimes the topic of witticism during film session at the field house but the pairs' expectations to make the playoffs this season are not short on delivery.
Both list at 5-foot-7 and 175 pounds but neither believe any obstacle can prevent the Bulldogs from reaching their goals.
"Scott and Josh are not tall people," Ascension Catholic head coach Rick Bolotte said as he enters his second season at the helm of the Bulldogs. "Scott loss some weight this year and gained some speed. Josh is going to be as strong as ever. He always is."
Bolotte and the Bulldogs are looking to better a 5-5 campaign that saw Ascension Catholic just miss the Class 1A playoffs last season.
"They are good solid athletes and smart football players," Bolotte said of the two seniors. "They know our scheme and know what to do in different situations. They are great leaders."
Charleville returns to lead the Bulldogs' offense at quarterback after throwing for 525 yards and four touchdowns on 32 of 91 passing in his first season under center.
Thibodeaux enters his third season starting at linebacker after registering 82 tackles, five sacks and four forced fumbles in being named to the All-District 9-1A first team.
They are two of eight seniors that lead a squad of 38, which understands the steep tradition of Ascension Catholic football that lines the walls of that field house. A tradition that includes state championships in 1943, 1973 and 1992. A tradition that has led the Bulldogs back to the lore of solid gold helmets.
That tradition holds a special place in the heart of Charleville, whose father, Bobby, is first cousin to Bucky Mistretta, Ascension Catholic's head coach during its last two titles.
"I just used to always love coming to Ascension Catholic games," Charleville said. "Finally getting to be a part of it means a lot."
Thibodeaux, who gets his fire from his father, Chuck, who was an All-State pitcher at Assumption, continued playing after tearing ligaments in his ankle against White Castle his sophomore year.
"You got to have heart," Thibodeaux said. "A lot of people may say they are hurt but it is whether you can get back on the field and keep playing. That is what I figure heart is. It is not going to stop me."
Both saw playing time as freshmen, the last time Ascension Catholic reached the playoffs in 2005, and learned from upperclassmen like quarterback Warren Couch and linebacker Ryan Pizzolato.
"Waiting here four years and finally getting a chance to lead your team - it means a lot," Charleville said. "I learned a lot since I been here especially when I was a freshmen. Last year it helped me a lot getting some experience in."
The comrades agree that a strenuous weight lifting regiment is key to success.
"I am small guy but small guys can make it up if you get in the weight room and work out," Thibodeaux said. "I love the game because it is fun. If you are not having fun, then you don't need to be playing."
Charleville also sees an influx of upperclassman at skills positions as a plus.
"I think every year our work ethic gets better," Charleville said. "We get stronger and gain more experience. We finally have older guys playing in specialty positions. We aren't relying on freshmen as much as in the past."
Bolotte believes with the Bulldogs' depth and senior leadership, Ascension Catholic is primed for another playoff run and Charleville and Thibodeaux can't wait to strap on their helmets.
"There is no better feeling," Charleville said. "Every year we have been winning a few more games than the year before. This year we should at least win seven games and make the playoffs."
The only cause for falling short of the playoffs this season would be psychological errors, according to Thibodeaux.
This is my last year and I am looking to go all out," Thibodeaux said. "Anything less than the playoffs will be a mistake on our part because that means we did something totally wrong. We have enough talent this year and enough kids. We have the same schedule as last year and half of the losses were due to mental mistakes. We just have to be stronger mentally and see how far it takes us into the playoffs."