Gents host Church Point in key 4-AAA tilt
By Chris Quebedeaux
CROWLEY – It may only be Week 7 of the prep football season, but tonight’s showdown between Crowley High and Church Point at Gardiner Memorial Stadium could go a long way in determining the outcome of the District 4-AAA race for 2009.
The Gents and Bears enter the 7 o’clock contest with identical records, both at 5-1 overall and 1-0 in league play. Both teams also earned votes in this week’s LSWA Prep Polls with Crowley grabbing the No. 13 spot followed by Church Point at 14.
“Whoever wins this game is going to put themselves in a good position to compete for a district championship,” said Church Point coach John Craig Arceneaux. “The winner of this game will be in much better shape than the loser, but it won’t make or break the season for either team.”
Crowley High coach Tommy Tate agrees.
“Each week is a big challenge for everybody in district and this happens to be Week 2,” said Tate. “There are three teams that are 1-0 right now. They are one of them, we are one of them and, of course, Eunice is the other one. It’s just a big ballgame for both teams.”
Crowley is coming off a big win last week when they upset Iowa, 38-14, on the Yellow Jackets home field. In that game, the Gents rolled up 177 yards and three scores on the ground while also scoring on an 81-yard kickoff return and a 37-yard interception return.
CHS quarterback D’Myrus Daniels led the offensive charge, rushing 21 times for 110 yards and three touchdowns. Tonori Boutte followed with nine totes for 47 yards.
“The thing that catches your eye right away is their team speed,” said Arceneaux of the Gents. “They have some guys that can run. Offensively, they’re going to spread you out. The quarterback can run the ball, he can throw the ball... Anytime you can put a guy back there as a duel threat, it’s going to present some problems. And Boutte with his speed, if he gets out there in the open, we don’t have anybody that can catch him. I don’t know if there’s many schools that have somebody that can get him if he gets out there in the open.”
Arceneaux counters with a trio of talented running backs that have combined for just under 1,400 yards and 15 touchdowns in six games. Von Duplechain leds the pack with 549 yards and four touchdowns on 77 carries. Joseph Carrier has 473 yards and five touchdowns on 92 carries and Bruce Citizen has 346 yards and six scores on 49 totes.
“It seems like those three running backs have been there forever,” said Tate. “They bring a lot of confidence to that offensive huddle and they are capable of making big plays any time they touch the ball. They are really strong kids and arm tackles don’t bring them down. You’ve got to get some hats around them and you’ve got to wrap them up.”
Citizen has also been effective as a receiver, hauling in nine passes for 101 yards while Duplechain and Carrier each have a few receptions on the season.
“They are throwing the ball a little bit more,” said Tate. “They’re just trying to get the ball out in the flats to either Carrier or one of the wingbacks. They’re trying to get some high percentage throws in the flats, just trying to get the ball to them in open spaces so they can try and make plays.”
Defensively, both teams have been successful, especially the last two weeks.
Although Crowley did give up over 100 yards through the air the last few weeks, they held Iowa to just 33 yards on the ground and Rayne to just 41. The only time the Gents allowed more than 100 yards rushing was in Week 1 against Class 4A Jennings.
“Crowley just plays such an aggressive style of defense now,” said Arceneaux. “They have plenty of speed in the secondary so you’re not going to have many big plays against them if you are able to come out of there in the running game. They have guys back there that are going to run you down. So they force you be disciplined, they force you to drive the football and they are going to give up very few big plays. Just the aggressive style they play presents a problem.”
Church Point has also been pretty selfish defensively, giving up less than 200 total yards of offense in their last three outings in victories over Rayne, Erath and Northwest.
“I think their defensive front is much improved,” said Tate. “They are very active up front. They have three big guys and they seem to make plays. John Leger, Donavon Darbonne and Dexter Charles, those three guys create a lot of matchup problems inside because of their size and the way they play. And, of course, their two inside backers and outside backers do a good job with their reads and their scheme.”
Fortunately for Crowley, Church Point’s running attack is similar to the one the Gents saw and stopped last week against Iowa.
Against Iowa, Crowley gave up 44 rushing yards in the first half but hit the Yellow Jackets for minus 11 yards on the ground in the final 24 minutes.
“Iowa had a really good running game and we were fortunate enough to be able to tackle their quarterback and their running back and keep them bottled up,” said Tate. “We face the same big challenge this week in stopping Church Point’s running game. That’s one of the things that they do best. We have to finish up a really good week of preparing for what they do offensively and then go out there and get good alignments, good reads, good play recognition and of course, play hard, play with a motor.”