DOUBLE DUTY: LeBeouf, Sotile hungry to usher Bulldogs into postseason contention
DONALDSONVILLE – Both have started since their freshmen year. Both made all-district on both sides of the football on offense and defense last season. And both are tired of coming up just short in their quest to make the playoffs.
James LeBeouf and Frankie Sotile lead a contingent of 10 seniors returning to Ascension Catholic, a football program with a rich tradition and three state championships, that have never played in a playoff game.
“James and Frankie are hard working kids that play their hearts out,” Ascension Catholic head coach Rick Bolotte said. “I just hope that they can be good leaders for us this year and stay healthy. We only lose five starters from last season. A lot of kids go both ways but the kids know what to expect of me and I know what to expect of them.”
Bolotte enters his third season at the helm of the Bulldogs and has grown on the likes of LeBeouf and Sotile.
“It is like a family with Coach Bolotte,” LeBeouf said. “We do everything together as a team on and off the field. He is a good coach but he is getting a lot stricter.”
Sotile appreciates Bolotte’s commitment to the Ascension Catholic program and to its players.
“He has been around and he knows his stuff so I trust him,” Sotile said. “It seemed like he wanted to be here and he has stuck around. He is the longest coach I have ever had.”
All-district honors have come LeBeouf and Sotile’s way from the moment they set onto the field in the Bulldogs’ purple and gold and their years of experience will by relied upon this season not only on the field but off as well.
“We have been starting since our freshmen year and we have had a lot of good leadership before us,” LeBeouf said. “We have always been almost just like leaders to the guys in our class and now as seniors, we are going to try and be good leaders on and off the field. We are going to do what we know how to do best and enforce all the rules. When Coach Bolotte is talking everybody has to be quiet. I had to correct somebody earlier today for that.”
Sotile said playing as a freshmen with upperclassman has made it a simple transition to trailblazer.
“Since we have been starting since our freshmen year, I have just found that being a leader has come easy just because we have had so many ahead of us,” Sotile said. “You have to push everybody. If they are struggling you have to put forth the extra effort to go help them. You have to step up your game.”
Ascension Catholic fell short of the playoffs last season with a 4-5 overall record and 1-4 district mark and despite the addition of Christian Life and St. John to their district, LeBeouf and Sotile say anything short of a playoff berth for the first time since 2005 will not do.
“It has been frustrating never making it to the playoffs and this is our senior year and we are determined to make it no matter what it takes,” LeBeouf said.
“I want to make the playoffs and advance,” Sotile added. “I have been waiting for the playoffs and always coming up short but this year we are going to make sure we put forth the extra effort and we are going to make it.”
LeBeouf made first-team all-district as a freshmen defensive lineman. Last season, he earned first-team honors both at running back and linebacker after rushing for 506 yards on 87 carries and a team-high seven touchdowns, while catching five passes for 73 yards and one touchdown and registering a team-high 78 tackles, with three sacks and one interception.
“You have to mentally tough and in good shape,” LeBeouf said. “We really never knew any other way than both ways the whole game so you just have to work hard.”
Sotile was also an all-district lineman as a freshmen and last season earned first-team honors on the offensive side of the ball and second-team honors on the defense after helping the Bulldogs rush for 1,330 yards and 17 touchdowns.
“I have found that year by year I have gotten stronger and it has just become more natural to know that you are going to be on the field the whole game expect for maybe three plays,” Sotile said.
Both LeBeouf and Sotile say you only get back what you put into game of football.
“It is a love hate relationship,” LeBeouf said. “You love to play the game on Friday nights but you hate practices. It is our senior year and we only got 10 guaranteed games left so we are going to do our best.”
“You love it one day and hate it the next,” Sotile said. “ It is the only sport in the world that you can hurt somebody and not go to jail for it. It is game time and it is the best time of the year. Better than Christmas. We are going to make the most of it.”