Gents travel to Opelousas
On paper, the Crowley Gents should walk away from Opelousas’ Donald Gardner Stadium with another victory Friday evening.
The only problem is, their game against the winless Tigers isn’t on paper; it’s on the field.
And the last time the Gents entered a game in St. Landry Parish as a prohibitive favorite, they left with their only defeat of the young season.
That was two weeks ago when the Gents (3-1 overall, 1-0 District 4-4A) fell to an 0-2 Northwest team on a wet and muddy field.
Conditions for Friday's game could be similar and to Fontenot, that is a concern.
“It’s going to be a wet game and the last time that happened, we didn’t handle it very well,” said Fontenot whose Gents turned the ball over four times against Northwest. “That’s my main concern: how are we going to handle the wet conditions in an environment where we should be able to win the game?
“We were in this exact situation two weeks ago and we failed, so that’s more what I am concentrating on more than anything else.”
The Gents were able to put the loss to Northwest behind them last week when they dismantled the Beau Chene Gators to the tune of 46-19 in the district opener for both teams.
In that game, the Gents turned the ball over twice, but used a balanced offensive attack that led to 484 yards of total offense to offset the miscues.
“We did improve; we got better last week,” said Fontenot. “We still have things to work on, but we responded well after a loss. That was a good thing; we came in and beat a team that we were supposed to beat and we handled our business.
“Now, the goal is to keep it going and put together a nice little winning streak.”
The Gents find themselves in a familiar position, much like last week, in playing a team that is considered an underdog.
However, that doesn’t mean Opelousas will just roll over and Fontenot knows his team will have to be clicking on all cylinders.
“Opelousas is a very athletic team and they’re going to run the spread (offense) with anywhere from one back to zero backs,” said Fontenot. “They have a very athletic quarterback, a couple good receivers and a good running back. They put some pressure on you with the spread; they try to make you tackle them in space and that’s a problem when you’re dealing with the type of athletes they have.”
First-year starter KeAndre Jones leads the Tigers’ offense at quarterback and he has shown both the ability to run the ball as well as air it out when needed. The junior signal caller completed six passes for 103 yards last week in a 42-20 loss to Eunice and he has split the rushing load with Mandell Sam, who rushed for 130 yards three weeks ago in a 49-6 loss to Lafayette.
Sam, who will also lineup under center at times, caught two passes last week for 57 yards and a touchdown.
“They are pretty balanced and a lot of their runs come from quarterback scrambles,” said Fontenot. “Their quarterback is very athletic so it will be a challenge to keep them bottled up. They have a lot of good athletes out there running around and causing trouble for some people.”
Fontenot said the Tigers have shown the ability to move the football on opponents. The problem, he said, “is right now, it looks like they’re just having a little trouble with finishing drives.”
Defensively, the Tigers will run a 4-2-5 alignment in which Sam also plays a key role in at free safety. He will be joined by two other speedsters in the secondary in defensive backs Arnold Sturkey and Christian Boutte.
“Defensively, they are not fancy, but they play very hard and they have a couple of guys that you really have to take notice of,” said Fontenot. “One of them is No. 7 (Sam) and he’s one of their better football players.
“When we’re going to throw the ball, we need to be very aware of where he is at. They will blitz and put pressure on you which will cause some trouble so it will be another challenge for us.
“But if we go in there and play, it shouldn’t be anything that we can’t handle.”