Interview with Brother Martin Head Coach Mark Bonis
By: Bradley Abadie
I was lucky enough to talk over the phone in an interview with Mark Bonis, the head football coach of the Brother Martin Crusaders. I got to ask him a few questions about his varsity squad, along with highlighting a handful of players on the team to keep an eye on during this 2016 Louisiana High School football season.
- In which areas of development have you seen your team improve upon throughout this past offseason in addition to the games that you have played so far in the regular season?
Bonis: “There’s no doubt that our team has been improving, but honestly, we still have a long way to go. We still need to continue to stay motivated and continue to better become well-rounded in all three phases of the game. I also think our team still needs to focus on having a greater sense of urgency at all times in our games as well. There’s no room for our team to get complacent throughout this season.”
- What kind of intangible qualities as football players and as young men do you see in brothers Bruce Jordan-Swilling (HB/LB #9) and Trey Swilling (DB #7) (both are verbal commits to Georgia Tech), as well as Jeremy Singleton (WR/DB #3) (committed to Houston) that will allow them to not only play, but have success at the college level?
Bonis: “I’d like to add our defensive tackle Matthew Clapp (DT #97) [younger brother of LSU guard William Clapp] to that list of guys as well. I think Mr. Clapp will most likely be given an opportunity to play at the next level. But yeah, these four guys are selfless, team-first players, they’re tough in every sense of the word, they compete well, and they just finish games. Truly and honestly, their success on the field just speaks for itself based on how hard they’ve worked to get to where they are now as players. Most importantly, these guys all embody the ‘Crusader Spirit’ both on and off the field, and they represent our team and our school extremely well.”
- Out of all of the players on your team, could you name maybe a two or three guys that have stood out to you as all-around players that show some combination between dedication in the classroom, leadership in the locker room, and heart on the field, that maybe deserve some attention from colleges that haven’t received any looks yet?
Bonis: “Yeah, there are three guys. Dylan Walker (DE #95), Vejon Wallis (DE #37), Pattre’en Hughes (WR #15). Pat is one of our wide receivers, and Wallis and Walker are both defensive ends. Each of these guys have good talent and good grades to match, so hopefully, these guys may possibly be given a chance to play in the future if they can keep up the good work this year. There’s no guarantees for them yet, but I think they’ll each have a chance to prove themselves.”
- Who is number 8 on the football team? I was very impressed when I saw him play live against St. Stanislaus, and I thought that he played pretty darn well for y’all in that game!
Bonis: “So, his name is John-Paul Pierce. He’s a dual-threat QB and he’s only in his junior year right now. He can certainly throw the ball, but he’ll occasionally run on you with his legs as well! He’s played well for us so far as our starting quarterback, and that’s just a credit to the entire offense as a whole. When everyone makes the plays that they need to on the offensive side of the ball, then everyone looks good! But yeah, he is just a good kid and a quality player that we’re very blessed to have on our team.”
- How excited is your squad and the entire Brother Martin community about playing on national television at Zephyr Field (Metairie, LA) against a well-known John Curtis team, and how important in terms of exposure is this game for the future of this school and its football program?
Bonis: “Honestly, we want to approach it as if it’s just another game, and mainly because that’s exactly what it is. Just another game. This game won’t be the ‘end all, be all’ game by any stretch of the mind. There’s good competition within our district and throughout the rest of our schedule this season, so we have to make sure that we’re prepared every week. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great honor for our school and our program to be on this stage, but we really don’t even want to focus on the fact that we’re televised or any of that, because it’s irrelevant in terms of the game itself. We just want to focus on our opponent and be prepared to show up, compete hard, and hopefully we’ll come out on top with a win.”
- Exactly HOW BAD would this team like to win a state championship this season? I’ve talked with some of the Crusader faithful, and everybody is sticking with the ALL IN slogan that has everyone donning the Crimson and Gold saying, “This could be OUR year!”
Bonis: “You know, it would definitely be nice, especially since the team hasn’t brought home a championship since 1971. All we want to do right now though is approach this season one game at a time. We still wholeheartedly believe in buying into the process and the development of our season rather than the prize at the end. It can be so easy to get lost in the lore of that because that’s what every team hopes for. In order to achieve that long-term goal, we have to focus on getting better, day-by-day and week-by-week. If we can keep achieving our shorter goals one step at a time, then we can hopefully have that opportunity to play for a state title come the end of the season.”
Bonis and the Crusaders will square off in a matchup against the John Curtis Patriots this Friday, September 23rd, at 7pm at Zephyr Field in Metairie, LA. It will be the feature game in this week’s GEICO ESPN High School Football Showcase, which will be nationally televised on ESPNU.