NEW ORLEANS (WGNO)— Perhaps one of the biggest moments for Isidore Newman School’s football program last season was playing back-to-back games on national TV, facing St. Charles Catholic, then Berkeley Prep.

A year later, head coach Nelson Stewart says he wants the nation’s top recruit, Arch Manning, and his team to have a season with far fewer distractions.

In late September, Newman will travel to Sabine Parish, where they will take on Many, last year’s Class 2A state runner-up. ESPN inquired about broadcasting the game, however, Stewart told WGNO Sports that Newman politely declined.

“As coaches, if we get caught up in the limelight, they are still teenagers, they are still kids,” Stewart explained. “I don’t think anyone needed to see me play when I was 18 years old on national TV, and that is not something we are interested in.”

Newman’s 2022 slate is challenging, and Stewart said playing that type of schedule while getting his team ready for the playoffs is job one.

“We wanted to give our kids a Louisiana schedule. Go to River Parish, go to Belle Chasse, hosting Riverside, going to Hahnville, Benton, going to Many, that’s what high school football is all about,” Stewart continued. “Over the past few years, we have been spotlighted on ESPN, but we are not interested in that. It’s just as important to be on Friday Night Football. We want to give a good Louisiana schedule with balance and a lot of good physical play up front. I know I have done my job when we get in the playoffs, we are ready to hopefully make a run and see if we can finish it out.”

Stewart, who played high school football with Peyton Manning, says team building is far more important than national TV.

“Give them that chance to play together. I think that’s how it was when Peyton was here, when Eli was here. We would like to continue to follow that [Tony] Reginelli model. I think if you don’t get caught up in that, you really get a chance to be a team and make a run of it, so we hope so,” said Stewart.

Newman plays De La Salle in the jamboree, scheduled for Friday, August 26, Uptown at Lupin Field.

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