GF Media Day 2023 Preview: Episcopal High School (Baton Rouge, LA)

The Episcopal Knights have a lot of high expectations heading into the 2023 season after having 30-5 combined record the last three years. The program has also won two district championships and has been in back-to-back Quarterfinal appearances during that time. Last season, the Knights won 10 games, but lost in the district championship game against Dunham and also lost in the Quarterfinals against Notre Dame. However, what is most impressive about what the Knights have done the last two years is that they had two Quarterfinal teams after reloading and losing a lot of key contributors from the year before.

“We want to be consistent in everything that we do. We are going to adapt to our personnel. Last year, we had nine seniors. This year, we will have 13 seniors, so you have to play off the type of talent that you are going to get it year in and year out. We feel that we want to lay a foundation with the younger guys so when it is their turn to become seniors and juniors with varsity experience, then they are ready to go. We just feel that 9-12 we got a solid foundation, a solid program that we are developing kids on and off the field and being able to contribute to the varsity level.”

Episcopal Head Coach Travis Bourgeois

For the last 24 years as the Knights head coach, head coach Travis Bourgeois has been a model of consistency for the Episcopal program as the team has won close to 170 games and has been a district and playoff contender every year. Coach Bourgeois the epitome of being a teacher and a leader as he has not only brought the Knights success on the gridiron but has also led the girls basketball team and boys baseball team to a lot of wins as well. Being a part of so many kids’ lives and having an impact on them through sports is something that Coach Bourgeois is proud of the most since he has started his standout coaching career at Episcopal back in 1995.

“The family atmosphere. Everybody takes care of everybody. It’s a Pre-K to 12th school so I get to experience a kid when he was three years old all the way up to when they graduate. I am getting to the point now where I am starting to coach a second generation of kids now. It’s just a good place to be. The administration is very supportive. We all have that important goal of putting academics first, but athletics also plays a huge part in today’s kids.”

Episcopal Head Coach Travis Bourgeois

After winning ten games and making the Quarterfinals last year with a young team in 2022, Head Coach Travis Bourgeois has been preaching to his team about being more physical in the offseason in order for the Knights to accomplish the goals of winning district and making an even deeper run in the playoffs for this upcoming fall.

“We got to continue to get better, continue to improve, because there were a couple of times last year that we got exposed with our physicality. That has been our big thing this summer. The reason we lost those two games last season was because of physicality. We’ve got to become a more physical, stronger team if you want to survive in the playoffs.”

Episcopal Head Coach Travis Bourgeois

The Knights will be replacing the school’s all-time leading passer in Lewis Ward and will have a new starting quarterback in Zack Hu. Hu is a very talented thrower of the football and will have the help around him that will help him settle into his new role.

“First of all, Zack physically can handle it. He’s thrown for baseball and is our starting catcher on the varsity level. He is really athletic. He is really cerebral. Now, he just has to get the reps. Last year, he got a few snaps, but most of the time, the game was in hand. We are just telling Zack that he’s got to utilize the people around him. He’s got a good group around him. Our job as coaches is to put Zack in a good position to make him feel really comfortable. As the season goes on, he will get more relaxed and everybody has to go out there and do their part. It’s just not on the quarterback.”

Episcopal Head Coach Travis Bourgeois

Fortunately for Hu, he will have a lot of options to lean on including two players that went to our Gridiron Football Media Day in 2025 RB Reid Chauvin and 2025 WR David Olinde.

Chauvin and his 2024 counterpart Braeden George were one of the deadliest one-two punches in the Baton Rouge area last season. With Chauvin being “Mr. Inside” and beating you as a power runner and George being “Mr. Outside” and beating you with his speed, the dynamic running back duo combined to rush for over 2,000 yards and 30 touchdowns last season.

Then, when Hu has to throw the football, he can go to Olinde, who was the Knights’ number one receiver last season with 30 catches for 502 yards and four touchdowns while also being a third option in the running game with two touchdown runs last season.

The Knights’ Wing T offensive attack not only has two bonafide 1,000-yard rushers in the backfield, but the Knights can also lean on four of their five returning offensive linemen as well to lead the way on the ground.

“Four offensive linemen return. That’s going to help. Our punter and kicker is back. Our deep snapper is back and we have eight starters back on defense. We can’t sit around the quarterback position. We just have to focus on our strengths and the weaknesses that we do have, we have to fine tune them and get them better because in the end, you want to make that push in the playoffs.”

Episcopal Head Coach Travis Bourgeois

As Coach mentioned, the defense is going to be a year older and more experienced with eight starters returning including 1st Team All-District selections Ethan Ott and Chase Cresson leading the way.

“Up front, we will have Ethan Ott back, who is a three-year starter and JB Sessums, who is a two-year starter. Chase is right there, and he makes our calls. He is our leading tackler. Will Ribes is on the backend and led us in interceptions last year. Chase Finley and Taj Callahan are on the outside. Those two guys are returning experience. Brody Bailey is back, and Nathan Sanchez is back as well. We got some names out there that do return experience.

Episcopal Head Coach Travis Bourgeois

With that experience, Bourgeois expects the upperclassmen and the seniors to carry the same torch that last year’s seniors Lewis Ward and Cale Buhler did a season ago.

“We do return a couple of guys on the offensive and defensive side of the football, but every year, I tell my seniors that we are going to be as good as our senior class. Last year with the all-time leading quarterback Lewis Ward and team captain Cale Buhler, those were some outstanding leaders that led by example and showed the other guys on how to do things. That is what this senior class has to be. We got to have leadership step up. We got to have a couple of guys voicing their opinion and everybody else has to follow. This year, we got the experience back outside of the quarterback position and as a coach, I want to see leadership. I want to see guys take over this team because coaches can only do so much. I am excited about the spring we went through. We wrapped up summer activities and a couple of weeks, we will get back to the field. That’s the biggest challenge for this year and just because you return some players, it doesn’t mean you are going to be better. At the end, you got to get out there and perform.”

Episcopal Head Coach Travis Bourgeois

One of those seniors that will be setting the tone and will be leading by example is 2024 center Will York, who will be wearing a very special number this season in memory of Episcopal great Jimmy Williams. Williams, who passed away last summer after his battle with cancer, was an all-time great player at Episcopal and also was an All-SEC player at Vanderbilt before having a good career in the NFL playing for the San Francisco 49ers and the Seattle Seahawks. Williams spent the last couple of years giving back to his community and teaching kids as the team’s defensive coordinator before his passing. Williams’ legendary number 8 jersey has not been worn since his playing days with the Knights and York will get the unique opportunity to honor the Episcopal legend’s legacy.

“Number 8 hasn’t been worn since Jimmy’s senior year at Episcopal. I talked to his wife Chandra and her son Ace, and we wanted to bring back number eight. People retire numbers and don’t bring them back. Nobody knows why so instead of retiring his number, treat it like the LSU #18. We want to have the coaches decide for the guy that best represents the program in honor of Jimmy not only on the field, but off the field. This year, it is an offensive lineman in Will York. A funny story about this is that Will York’s dad also coached Jimmy when Jimmy was in 7th and 8th grade. It’s a good circle that is coming back so obviously, Will cannot wear the number 8 because he’s an offensive lineman, but we are going to put a #8 on his jersey so instead of his retired number hanging up in the closet, now, year in and year out, we will talk about #8 and keep Jimmy’s legacy alive around South Louisiana.”

Episcopal Head Coach Travis Bourgeois

Jimmy would love nothing more than his Knights team to make a run at the championship, but before getting to that point, the team must go through a district that has a lot of unique challenges with it.

“Dunham returns. They won the district last year. We won the district the two previous years. Dunham got us last year and they had a great team last year. East Feliciana has tons of athletes and we always have our hands full with East Feliciana. Capitol is getting a new coach. They are laying the foundation and trying to establish some stability. Baker’s back in after being 3A a couple of years and they are back playing 2A, and Northeast rounds out our district. It gives us a good mixture and a good balance of what you are going to see. There is the strength on the line from Dunham and the skill and athleticism from the other teams in our district that will help us get ready for the playoffs.”

Episcopal Head Coach Travis Bourgeois

As mentioned in the beginning, the team is talented, motivated, and experienced to make a run in 2023, and because of those three tangibles, Coach Bourgeois expects it to be a big year and an opportunity for them to overcome the hump.

“That’s the thing. We’ve only been getting to the Quarterfinal round, and we just haven’t been able to get over that hump in the quarterfinals. It’s an experience team that plays with energy, and that’s what I like about them. This team plays with a lot of energy, and it is time for them to learn some lessons on how to control that emotion. They are a fun team to watch and just because you are a year older doesn’t mean you are going to be a year better so we have been on these guys all summer and leading into fall camp. Hopefully, those guys can continue to work and continue to improve because we got a challenging schedule ahead of us and we are looking forward to it.”

Episcopal Head Coach Travis Bourgeois

Catch all of the Episcopal action on VSN this fall with Jace LeJeune doing play by play this fall!

Check out all of our GF Media Day 2023 previews HERE!