Bonvillain readying for more football

Joseph Bertrand
December 11, 2014
Smart911 reaches year mark
December 16, 2014
Joseph Bertrand
December 11, 2014
Smart911 reaches year mark
December 16, 2014

Thibodaux High School quarterback Peyton Bonvillain’s senior season was nothing short of electric – one of the best statistical runs any local player has had in the past several years.

But for all its magic and luster, the Tigers’ year had an incredibly anti-climactic end – a 27-15 setback against Scotlandville in the second round of the Class 5A State Playoffs.

Just two weeks removed from the heartbreak Bonvillain is already working hard to better his game in an effort to make sure his heart never gets shattered on a football field ever again.

The dynamic quarterback said he’s been working out throughout the past week in an effort to ready himself for the college level.

The Tigers’ standout is currently uncommitted, but is receiving interest from several local schools interested in his services. Some schools are looking at Bonvillain as a quarterback, while others have interest in obtaining a receiver, halfback or defensive back – all of the different hats he’s worn throughout his colorful prep career.

“It was hard taking that loss the way we did,” Bonvillain said. “I felt like we were better than (Scotlandville), but we underestimated them. It hurt so bad knowing that in that moment, I would never get another chance to play high school football. Knowing our Road to the Dome was over really hurt – it was a feeling that I said to myself I never wanted to feel again.”

For Bonvillain, his final memories of prep action may be sour, but the past two years have been nothing short of special.

Bonvillain started his junior year as the unknown man in a two-person quarterback committee for Thibodaux’s offense.

The guy generating all of the attention at that time was Bonvillain’s counterpart senior halfback/quarterback Donta Johnson – a powerful, bruising runner that had used his sophomore and junior seasons to firmly entrench his place as one of the better playmakers in the area.

But by about midway through the 2013 season, Bonvillain was well on his way to becoming a household name among local defensive coordinators, as well.

Bonvillain wasn’t ever as strong or powerful of a runner as Johnson, but he was quicker to the edges – he started at safety for the Tigers as a sophomore because of that speed. In the passing game, it was no comparison – Bonvillain was better. The gap because so wide that by the back-end of the 2013 season, Thibodaux head football coach Chris Dugas was almost exclusively playing Bonvillain at quarterback and Johnson at tailback.

It was a recipe that worked well for the Tigers, who won three of their final four games to finish 6-4 on the season.

“He’s come such a long way,” Dugas said late last season. “He’s made so much progression and it’s gotten to where it’s really hard to keep him off the field.”

The Tigers made the Class 5A State Playoffs in 2013, but they weren’t a team that showed the consistent ability to win close games. Three of the Tigers’ four regular season losses came by seven points or fewer. The team’s playoff game was heartbreaking as well – a 43-40 opening-round loss against Zachary.

Bonvillain finished the season completing 64-of-102 passes for 1,230 yards and 16 touchdowns. On the ground, he pushed forward for 613 yards with six touchdowns.

Bonvillain and Dugas both said throughout this year that the memory of that disappointment was something that they carried with them in their preparation for 2014.

It showed.

With Bonvillain as the team’s unquestioned starting quarterback and offensive leader, Thibodaux dominated for most of the year.

Bonvillain was right in the middle of the action, giving fits to opposing defenses because of his versatility and ability to attack from all angles.

Sometimes it was with his legs – he rushed for more than 1,300 yards with 20-plus touchdowns on the season.

Other times, it was Bonvillain’s arm that did the damage. He threw for more than 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns on the year.

When the Tigers wanted to really show off, they’d put Bonvillain at wide receiver. He caught a couple touchdown passes on the season.

All put together, Bonvillain’s numbers helped contribute to a magical 9-1 season for Thibodaux – a year that saw the Tigers roar past parish rivals South and Central Lafourche (both via blowout) and also River Parish district rivals Hahnville and East St. John.

The team’s only loss was a mid-season war with Destrehan that ended 21-14 in the Wildcats’ favor. But Thibodaux statistically dominated that game from start-to-finish, outgaining the Wildcats by more than 100 yards throughout the game. Bonvillain took multiple head-on blows in the defeat, but he kept fighting throughout the defeat.

“We really played well and left our hearts on the field on that night,” Dugas said earlier this season. “I think that game sort-of let our players know that we could play with anyone in Louisiana on any given night.”

The Tigers entered the playoffs with hopes of a state championship – the No. 6 seed in Class 5A. They were matched with Captain Shreve in the opening round of the playoffs – a North Louisiana foe that battled to a 5-5 record on the regular season.

Not wanting to be letdown in the opening-round of the postseason for the second-straight year, Bonvillain played arguably the best game of his career against Captain Shreve, accounting for six total touchdowns in the win – including passing, rushing and receiving scores.

But the team’s path to the championship ended the next Friday when a slow start plagued the Tigers against Scotlandville.

Thibodaux fought until the bitter end, but could never overcome its early hole, falling by 12 points in the road-based game.

Bonvillain said he puts blame for the loss on himself – something he said any leader should do in a situation of adversity.

The Hornets gave Bonvillain multiple defensive looks throughout the game, limiting him to 5-of-13 passing with 84 yards and two interceptions.

“The moment when I realized it was over was when we got on the bus,” Bonvillain said. “That, and when I hugged my father Dean Bonvillain after the game. I told him I was sorry because I felt like it was my fault, but he said it was OK because we had an amazing season and that nobody could take it away from me.”

But because of the way it all ended, Bonvillain is working-hard.

He posted an Instagram photo of himself alone on the Tigers’ track last Friday, perfecting his conditioning in advance of Signing Day.

Where he’ll go, he’s not yet sure.

But once he gets there, he knows that he doesn’t ever want to experience failure again.

His senior season was magical – no doubt.

But he said the next time he takes the field, he wants to make sure there’s no possibility that the magic can ever run out on a football field again.

“My offseason goals are to get bigger – somewhere around 200 pounds, and to get faster -1 want to bring my 40-time down to about a 4.5. It’s currently a 4.6,” Bonvillain said. “I also want to get more flexible and just keep learning the game, but most of all, make the grades so I can make sure I can play at the next level of competition.

“It hurt real bad knowing that we should’ve been playing Friday night, but couldn’t…. The fact that we know we should’ve won that game hurts us all a lot more.”

Thibodaux High School football player Peyton Bonvillain had his heart broken in the second round of the LHSAA Class 5A State Playoffs. Not wanting to ever feel that same disappointment ever again, Bonvillain is working to get bigger, faster and stronger so that he can make a big splash at the next level.