A couple of weeks ago, St. Thomas More High School hosted the Air It Out 7v7 Tournament, which featured some of the top high school football programs in the Acadiana area. As the last major 7v7 tournament we covered before the start of football season, there was a lot of attention by these high schools to work on their offensive timing and communication heading in 2023.
The tournament was one of the biggest high school football 7v7 tournaments that one would find with 36 schools slotted in the event. The event was so big that it had to be divided into a two-day event with the smaller schools playing on Wednesday and the larger schools playing on Thursday.
The first day included the likes of Opelousas Catholic, Westminster Lafayette, Vermilion Catholic, St. Edmund, Erath, Loreauville, Kaplan, Church Point, Catholic New Iberia, St. Martinville, Peabody, Central Catholic, Ville Platte, Notre Dame, Abbeville, and West St. Mary along with a JV division that allowed ASH, Cecilia, Teurlings Catholic, and St. Thomas More’s junior varsity teams to have a chance to compete as well.
Every team got the chance to play three pool play games before competing in the playoff bracket. Coming out of the Bayou Division, Opelousas Catholic and Westminster Christian Academy (Lafayette) posted undefeated records in pool play with Vermilion Catholic and St. Edmund being right behind them at 2-1. Meanwhile on the other side in the Basin Division, Catholic New Iberia won all three of its games with St. Martinville being right behind them at 2-1.
However, all that gets thrown out the window when the playoffs start. St. Martinville and Catholic New Iberia met for the championship round to end a full day of games. The Tigers went through Vermilion Catholic (17-14) and Opelousas Catholic (19-12) to get to the title game while the Panthers went through Church Point (19-12), Ville Platte (10-0), and Loreauville (10-8) to get their chance for an undefeated day.
In the championship game, it was the St. Martinville Tigers that stole the show and came up with an impressive performance to defeat the Catholic New Iberia Panthers by a final score of 20-7 to win the Small Schools Air It Out 7v7 Tournament Championship. After the Tigers won seven games including a district championship last year, it turned out to be a great start for head coach Vincent Derouen and crew heading into 2023 with a tournament championship.
The next day, it was time for the big schools to be in front of the spotlight. Heavy hitters like Acadiana, Teurlings Catholic, Holy Cross, St. Amant, St. Louis Catholic, Lafayette, Tioga, Alexandria, Carencro, Cecilia, Comeaux, Northside, Westgate, Breaux Bridge, North Vermilion, and of course, the tournament’s host St. Thomas More all battled it out for a chance to win the Large Schools Air It Out 7v7 Tournament Championship.
After a highly competitive and entertaining day of pool play, only four teams went undefeated heading into the playoffs including St. Thomas More, Acadiana, Alexandria, and Carencro. All four of those teams have big time state championship expectations heading into the 2023 season so it was going to be a great appetizer to see what teams are ready the most for the upcoming fall. Two of those teams would meet head-to-head in the championship game.
It was no surprise that two of the best passing attacks in the state would meet head-to-head for all the marbles in Alexandria and St. Thomas More. On the way to the last game of the tournament, the Trojans, led by head coach Thomas Bachman went through Tioga (27-0), Holy Cross (23-7), and a very explosive Acadiana Wreckin’ Ram team in an unbeaten semifinal matchup (21-20) to get to the championship while the Cougars went through North Vermilion (10-3), Comeaux (26-11), and a scrappy Westgate team in the semifinals (13-8) to set up the finale.
Despite the many explosive weapons on both teams, the championship game was won on defense. After St. Thomas More’s offense kicked a field goal to go up 13-8 late, it was an interception by 2025 DB Brian Broussard Jr. that sealed the deal for the Cougars to defend their home turf and win the Large Schools Air It Out 7v7 Tournament championship.
“That really has been a few years just to refocus the style of play that we are going to play on defense, and it is starting to come into fruition not only just with schemes, but just personnel. The guys that we put into those same situations two years ago are now filling those roles and doing so at a high level. We know Peyton David was going to be a great player for us eventually. He played inside linebacker as a freshman, played outside linebacker as a sophomore and a junior. Now, he slides in at the safety spot. Brian Broussard has only gotten better. He was our main corner last year as a sophomore and he had quite a few picks in the event.”
“Not normally do you see defenses shutting out offenses 7 on 7, but our defense was able to do that a few times during the event so that was really exciting to see just seeing them play team ball and them reacting to schemes or the ball being in the air. That was one of the biggest keys to our success, which was our defense developing not only over a year, but I think it has been the past two to three years that guys are beginning to lay a foundation, and they are starting to reap those benefits.”St. Thomas More Offensive Coordinator Shane Savoie
Offensive Coordinator Shane Savoie did a great job in putting on the event and is rewarded with an overall team performance by his St. Thomas More Cougars throughout the day.
“I don’t think that was our expectation going in. Obviously as competitors, we want to win, but for us, it was more about getting in the work and getting in situations where guys would have to grow and develop. It really gave us that opportunity so being able to get as many snaps as we could by getting all the way to the finals was definitely worthwhile for us, and for our kids, it is just exciting for them to win it.”
“If we made the semis, I was going to happy and pleased with our day. Playing teams like St. Amant, St. Louis, Westgate in the semis and ASH in the championship, it is really more about the event in trying to bring teams around the state and just have a good group of teams there. They are there to get better, but to also compete.”St. Thomas More Offensive Coordinator Shane Savoie
Having the trigger man return after leading a state championship in 2022 also is a sign of great things to come for the St. Thomas More Cougars as Sam Altmann is already looking to have another great season as a senior.
“It’s always a lot more calming as a coach when you have that position solidified. Last year, we were still playing two quarterbacks all the way into week five so to have that solidified and to also see Sam’s development was great. He made some throws on Thursday that were just phenomenal. He is starting to become more and more comfortable, but also physically, he is maturing. He has been making some throws that are just impressive.”St. Thomas More Offensive Coordinator Shane Savoie
Not only was the event great for the winning teams like St. Martinville and St. Thomas More, but it was also a successful event for everybody that was a part of it. Having a big, competitive, and successful 7v7 tournament is a great leaping board into the fall while also giving coaches the benefit of focusing even more on coaching up their team.
“The only reason we created the event was to create a first-class environment for our kids in our area and now, it has expanded beyond our area. To come and get some great work in, we want coaches to be able to show up with their team and coach their team without having to worry about the water, the trainers, the schedule, and to just show up and coach. I think our parents and support staff did a great job in helping us create a kind of event for those schools and teams. The event is going on eight years strong and it has grown from 16 teams to now 32 teams as well as a whole JV division. It’s exciting to see how many more schools want to get involved and how much we want to create a big event that people just want to be at.”
“Obviously, the Acadiana area has done really well in football and really just in athletics over the years. Now, people are starting to recognize that statewide how good the teams are and how good the coaching is in our area. It is just an event to be able to focus on those teams and showcase that talent.”St. Thomas More Offensive Coordinator Shane Savoie
Watch Gridiron Football’s live streamed games from Wednesday below with Andy and Jace doing color commentary for the playoffs!
Watch Gridiron Football’s live streamed games from Thursday below with Andy and Jace doing color commentary for the playoffs!
Check out our complete photo gallery of the two-day 7v7 tournament at St. Thomas More High School with photos taken by Andy Bryson, Jace LeJeune, and Will Strother!