No. 1 Bobcats finish regular season perfect
By John Burson
The play may not have been perfect in Eunice High School’s 26-7 win over the DeRidder High Dragons Friday at Bobcat Field.
But the result was perfect as the Bobcats finished the regular season undefeated for only the third time in their history with a 9-0 record.
Eunice High teams in the 1985 and 1997 seasons managed to go 10-0 in their regular seasons. This year’s edition played one less game due to a cancellation thanks to Hurricane Gustav.
Bobcat head coach Paul Trosclair congratulated his team for achieving the perfect mark in his post-game comments. But Coach Trosclair expressed disappointment his team’s offensive play.
“It is a great accomplishment to go unbeaten,” said Trosclair. “But our offense didn’t play well. Procedure penalties on offense put us in poor yardage situations, and four turnovers are unacceptable.”
Coach Trosclair did like the play of his special teams and defensive unit. “They made some big plays for us,” he commented.
The Bobcats blocked a PAT kick as well as two punts by the Dragons. Junior defensive back Tharold Simon intercepted two passes, returning one for a touchdown.
Another positive for the Bobcats was the play of senior running back Tyler Collins, who rushed 23 times for 116 yards and a touchdown. That yardage just added to all-time school career rushing totals.
After DeRidder moved into Bobcat territory on the game’s initial drive, the Cats forced a punt to take over at their own 32-yard line.
But the Cats quickly put themselves in a hole with a offside penalty prior to their first snap, leaving them with a first-and-15 situation. A drop on a third-down pass ended the possession.
After a 50-yard punt by Chris McCoy, the Bobcat defense held the Dragons to force a punt. Austin Young returned the short punt seven yards to give the Cats possession at the DeRidder 32-yard line.
After runs of two yards by Collins, and 11 yards by Young moved the ball to Dragons’ 19, Collins burst up the middle on the next play for the 19-yard touchdown. Jeffery Burge kicked the PAT for a 7-0 Bobcat lead with 3:36 left in the opening quarter.
DeRidder was stopped on a fourth-and-one gamble at their own 29 on their ensuing possession, presenting the Cats with a great opportunity to add to their lead.
After moving to the 9-yard line, a motion penalty and an offside infraction moved the Cats back to a third-and-goal from the 15. Senior quarterback Mitchell Fuselier dropped back to pass, was sacked from his blind side, and fumbled with the Dragons recovering to end the drive.
Thanks to a 30-yard pass from junior quarterback Samuel Peterson to
running back Ronald Acker, the Dragons moved into Eunice territory. But a fake punt pass attempt on a fourth-and-8 from the Eunice 32 fell incomplete to end the drive.
Eunice drove the ball to their own 49 before a lost fumble gave the ball back to the Dragons. But the Bobcat defense picked up the offense on the Dragons’ first play when Peterson was intercepted by Simon at the Eunice 21, returning it 15 yards.
The Cats put together a solid drive, moving from their own 36 to the DeRidder 25 in eight plays. But the scoring threat ended on yet another fumble on the next play with 2:20 left prior to the half.
The Dragons picked up a first down on a 19-yard run by Richmond, and with about a minute to go, Peterson tried a pass down the middle of the field. Simon reacted to the throw for his second interception, then picked up a couple of blocks as he headed down field for a 67-yard touchdown.
Burge hit the PAT kick to give the Cats a 14-0 lead with 51.8 seconds left in the half.
At the start of the second half, the Bobcats hurt themselves with a couple of penalties to waste decent field position at their own 44.
But the Cats would pin the Dragons back at their own 16 following a punt, forcing a punt by the Dragons. A bad snap led to a blocked punt and recovery by the Cats at the DeRidder six-yard line.
On second down, Nick Frank would run in from the six-yard line for a touchdown with 7:06 left in the third quarter. After a PAT kick by Burge, the Cats held a 21-0 lead.
DeRidder would respond with an impressive 71-yard, 16-play drive for a touchdown. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Richmond would score on a four-yard run. The PAT kick would be blocked, however, by the Cats’ Heath Leonards.
The Cats would respond in kind after Collins returned the ensuing kickoff 22 yards to the Eunice 43.
It took the Cats 10 plays to score, with Darryl Thomas racing seven yards for the touchdown with 7:00 left in the game. The PAT kick was blocked, but the Cats held a 27-6 lead. The big play of the scoring drive was a 20-yard pass from junior quarterback Stuart Turner to Young.
The Bobcats had another scoring opportunity on DeRidder’s next possession when Vondray Vallare blocked a punt to give the Cats the ball at the Dragons’ 24. But, in a eerie replay of an earlier possession, a procedure penalty on first down put the Cats in a first-and-15 situation.
On a fourth-and-11 from the 25, Peterson intercepted a pass at his own one-yard line to end the Bobcat scoring threat.
The Dragons would pick up a couple of first downs as the game winded down to its conclusion.