GF 2024 Spring Tour: Catholic High School (Baton Rouge, LA)

On the second stop of the 2024 Gridiron Football Spring Tour, beat writer Jace LeJeune makes a stop at Catholic High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. As one of the most prominent programs in South Louisiana, the Bears are entering Year 2 in the Hudson Fuller era and what a debut it was for Fuller as he guided the program to a 12-2 record and also the Division I Select State Championship with a 55-31 blowout victory over Acadiana High School.

“I am really proud of what the guys from last year’s team was able to do in overcoming adversity and getting better each week. Really for us, that is always the goal and that is put a team together and let them get better week to week, but also be the best team that we can at the end of the year.”

Catholic High School (Baton Rouge, LA) HC Hudson Fuller

Now, entering year two, the Bears are now going to be the hunted as they now have to carry the mantra of being a defending state champion. However, according to Coach Fuller, the principles and the message stays the same no matter what the circumstances are heading into a brand new season.

“We are principle driven. We don’t see those principles change as they are guided by the mission of Catholic High School and that’s what we are focused on. From year to year, those things will never change. For us, fighting entitlement, making sure that we have the drive what it takes to be elite, and staying focused on our principles is what we want to do.”

Catholic High School (Baton Rouge, LA) HC Hudson Fuller

For the first time in four years, there will be a new quarterback under center as the Bears will have to replace its most productive quarterback in school history in Daniel Beale, who led the team to three state championships and has signed to play for the Ragin’ Cajuns.

The biggest question for Bears fans is who is going to be the starting quarterback this season. Right now, there is some good competition among four guys that are fighting for that spot.

“The guys have handled things well. We are fortunate to have a mix of guys that have a lot of different talents. I am looking forward to seeing those guys compete. For us, we are not thinking about just replacing a certain player. Every year is a whole different team, and we are just asking of our guys to be the best that they can be. Right now, we got two rising juniors and two rising sophomores competing for the job in Baylor Graves, Turner Goldsmith, Pearce Tompkins, and James Pendarvis. All of them are getting reps and competing.”

Catholic High School (Baton Rouge, LA) HC Hudson Fuller

What will help whoever wins the quarterback competition will have plenty of help around him with a veteran offensive line, talented running backs, and also talented receivers to throw to.

“We are really excited about the guys up front, and our backs are able to give us consistency there. We lost our two senior guards up front, but we are feeling good about the carryover and the knowledge that we have. We expect to have a good wide receiver core. We are not in a situation in which we think that we are going to be one dimensional. We should have a balanced attack.”

Catholic High School (Baton Rouge, LA) HC Hudson Fuller

The Bears will have a strong offensive line led by Erv Smith, who is a 1st Team All-District and 1st Team All-State selection. The 6’2, 285 pound bruiser is an aggressive player on the field, but also has the versatility to play all the positions on the offensive line including center, guard, and tackle. Colleges love what they see in Smith as he has been offered by Grambling, McNeese State, Prairie View A&M, Texas A&M Commerce, Southeast Missouri, Lamar, Nicholls State, Louisiana Tech, and Southern.

“Erv Smith is going to be one of our biggest vocal leaders this year. When you turn on the film, you see his physicality, and I am excited to see what he can do this year.”

Catholic High School (Baton Rouge, LA) HC Hudson Fuller

Along with Smith, the Bears have one of the best upcoming offensive linemen in the state in 2026 OT Blaise Thomassie, who was recently offered by Florida State. The ground game can be a young quarterback’s best friend and the offense does return three talented running backs that will all share the load including Rylan Parker, Jeremy Fisher, and Jayden Miles. Miles has been racking up the offers recently as Ole Miss and Florida State have offered him in the last couple of days.

However, when the Bears need to throw the ball, they do return a couple of veteran receivers in Cohen Leblanc, Chase Cathey, and Amari Clayton. Clayton, who at 6’2, 195 pounds, is a big play receiver with track speed that can put pressure on the backend of a defense. The football and track state champion has received offers from Grambling, Graceland, McNeese State, Nicholls State, Southeastern, and Mississippi Valley.

“You are going to see great things from Amari this year. He played a big role last year. He was really consistent in making big plays, but he is also a physical blocker and plays hard. He had a great track season where he won some relays for us.”

Catholic High School (Baton Rouge, LA) HC Hudson Fuller

Moving over to the other side of the football, the Bears have one of the best defensive secondaries in the state of Louisiana led by two brothers in Jacob Bradford and Blaine Bradford. Jacob is a 1st Team All-District and 1st Team All-State selection that has received multiple offers including Vanderbilt, Marshall, Grambling, Tulane, ULM, Arizona State, Texas Tech, Houston, Louisiana Tech, and Arkansas State while his younger brother Blaine is the highest ranked safety in the country for the Class of 2026. The four-star prospect has received offers from the top college programs including LSU, Texas A&M, Florida State, Colorado, TCU, Stanford, Oregon, Oklahoma, Georgia, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Baylor, Arkansas, Penn State, and others. This season will be the last time they share a high school field together, so they are both looking forward to the opportunity.

“It’s real fun knowing that he’s behind me. He’s at corner. He’s at safety. We are all family on the team. We give each other a hard time because we are brothers, but it’s fun, competitive, and it’s everything when he’s out there. He does his own thing. He’s got the swag and he is just himself. He doesn’t try to follow anybody else.”

Catholic High School (Baton Rouge, LA) 3 star 2025 CB Jacob Bradford on his brother

“Just coming to high school together, playing together has always been set in stone. Jacob is a competitor no matter who it is. It can be a NFL wide receiver that he is going up against, but he is going to talk some smack in his face and is probably going to win the rep too.”

Catholic High School (Baton Rouge, LA) 4 star 2026 S Blaine Bradford on his brother

The brothers are close, but really, that side of the football has come together to become an ultimately strong group to watch out for this fall.

“There’s some big parts returning and a lot of knowledge returning after one year in. There’s just a high level of knowledge at this point. CJ Jones has had a really good offseason. Sam Norman is stepping into a big role We got a lot of guys that have been stepping up over the last couple of months, which has been big for us.”

Catholic High School (Baton Rouge, LA) HC Hudson Fuller

With other strong pieces on the defensive front including RJ Fleming-Ricard, Tarjon Dearbone, Maxwell Maurer, Harrison Kidder, and others, there is a lot to like. Finally, the Bears return their kicker and punter in All-District selection Sean Perrett, who has a reliable leg and has made some clutch kicks in the past for the Bears.

Three of the players that were mentioned also got surprised at the end of practice with invites to play in the 2023 Gridiron Football All-American Bowl Game. Last season, Blair Rousseau and Colin Coates got to represent Bear nation in the All-American Bowl Game and now, Erv Smith, Amari Clayton, and Jacob Bradford have been invited to play in the prestigious game this year.

“I am very thankful. It’s an honor and I am glad to get this invite.”

Catholic High School (Baton Rouge, LA) 2025 WR Amari Clayton

“It is going to be fun of having that experience of playing with the boys.”

Catholic High School (Baton Rouge, LA) 2025 OL Erv Smith

“I am excited. The more football, the merrier. I am excited to play one more game with some of the best out there.”

Catholic High School (Baton Rouge, LA) 2025 CB Jacob Bradford

“It’s a great honor for them. They all got great character. They are leaders on the team and do a great job in the classroom with their academics. They are really the whole package there.”

Catholic High School (Baton Rouge, LA) HC Hudson Fuller

The defending champs will make their first public appearance of the 2024 campaign this Friday, May 17th at Dale Weiner Field.

Check out all of the photos from practice taken by Pierce Hull!

For more of our Gridiron Football Spring Tours, click below!