Crowley faces stiff challenge in rival Eunice
Crowley's Ty'Von Griffin outruns defenders after a reception during the Gents' 52-48 victory over Rayne last week.
CROWLEY – There’s an old coaching adage that says a team’s most important game is the next one.
That’s certainly the case for the Crowley Gents.
Their next one - at Eunice Friday – is certainly the most important since it will have major implications in the District 4-4A race for both teams.
“Every week is a big week and this one is huge for us,” acknowledges CHS coach Josh Fontenot, whose team pulled off a 52-28 victory over state-ranked Rayne last week to move back into the District 4-4A race. “We have kind of put ourselves back in the hunt for a district championship with the win last week and regardless if it is a five-way or one-way tie at the end, it’s still a district championship.”
Crowley’s victory over Rayne last week left the Gents and Wolves with two losses each in league play. Eunice and LaGrange each sit atop the standings with just one loss. LaGrange rounds out the regular season at Washington-Marion next week.
“For Eunice, it’s a chance at an outright district championship because if they win and Washington-Marion were to beat LaGrange, they (Bobcats) are the champs by themselves,” said Fontenot. “So both teams really have a lot on the line going into this game.”
The bigger picture for the Gents (5-3, 3-2) is that they are in need of a victory to boost their power rating which is currently at No. 27 according to the LHSAA’s unofficial power rankings.
Getting that victory will be a difficult task against a Eunice team that has a few impressive victories under its belt this year.
The Bobcats have defeated Washington-Marion and they handed Rayne its first loss of the season two weeks ago. They also own victories over Northwest, St. Martinville and Opelousas.
“They (Eunice) are a good football team and they know how to win,” said Fontenot. “They have a winning tradition and they have a coach that has been there running the same system for years. When you have that, you can be very successful and they are. I have a ton of respect for them and they are a good football team.”
Offensively, the Bobcats run out of the same formation the Rayne Wolves used against the Gents last week: wing-t.
Unlike Rayne, however, they have run more spread formations recently.
The Bobcats are led on the ground by running back Darious Richard, who posted 213 yards and a touchdown in the Bobcats’ 23-11 victory over Rayne.
Alex Richard also played a huge role in that victory, completing nine of 14 pass attempts for 103 yards and one touchdown.
“Their fullback (Darious Richard) is the key,” said Fontenot. “They do a lot with him. They line him up in the wing-t fullback and they’re getting into more of a spread-type offense and it’s to try and get him the ball in space.
“They also have two very tall cornerbacks that they put at receiver some and they can go get it. Their quarterback is young, but they do a good job of calling plays for him. They don’t ask him to win the game for them, they ask him to make a few throws and get the ball to the fullback.”
Fortunately, it will be the second week in a row that the Gents have played a wing-t team so they should be a better prepared. Last week, in their first outing against that formation this year, they struggled, giving up 390 yards on the ground and 476 total.
“Rayne is good and their fullback is good, one of the best we’ve faced,” said Fontenot. “But, when you look at what we did, we were very much misaligned a lot; we did not play our safeties very well.
“When you’re playing against the wing-t, you have to do certain things to stop it and there are things you must take away. And we didn’t. That has to change and it has to change this week.
“This is the second week in a row we see this type of offense and the good thing is the fact that we were able to go back and show them on film all our mistakes. Coach (Jeptha) Wall and his staff are coaching their tails off and the kids are playing their tails off.
“We just have to play very focused. If we can do that, we will be alright.”
The Gents will counter with an offense that was nothing short of spectacular last week. Behind quarterback Pate Broussard, the Gents racked up 491 yards and 23 first downs.
Broussard had a career night through the air, completing 18 of 28 pass attempts for 345 yards and seven touchdowns. The Gents also got 146 yards on the ground courtesy of Chris Lewis, who picked up the bulk of that (105 yards) on 17 carries.
“Last week was one of our best offensive performances that we’ve had since I’ve been here,” said Fontenot. “That was as good as we’ve ever played on offense.
“And the exciting part about what happened was that it was very much built up to. You saw us throw all year and progress to get to that point. We were very much a run-oriented team to start the season with very few passes.
“As we started to give our quarterback a few more responsibilities, he went through some growing pains, but he learned from his mistakes. He made those corrections and you saw it all come together last week.”
The offensive fireworks that the Gents put up last week were impressive, but Fontenot knows that was a feat that will be difficult, if not impossible, to duplicate. That’s especially true against Eunice, which has given up just 14 points per game this season. The Bobcats have held their opponents under 20 points in six of their eight games. They surrendered 20 points in a victory over Opelousas and were outscored 21-6 last week at Vermilion Catholic.
“Eunice’s defense is pretty good,” said Fontenot. “They held Rayne to 11 points and we held them to what, 48. They held LaGrange to 19, we held them 52. So that says a lot. When I look at their defense I see a very well-coached group of kids who play very, very hard. They probably aren’t the biggest or the fastest team we’ve played all year on defense, but as far as being well coached, they’re probably the best or one of the best. They’re comparable to LaGrange.
“They’re going to play hard, they’re going to be in the right spots and we’re going to have to execute extremely well to put up the type of performance we had last week.”
The main key for the Gents this week will be to avoid the big game hangover. That was something they were unable to do earlier in the season following a dramatic 22-21 victory over Westlake.
The following week, when they were the heavy favorite, they dropped a 22-20 decision to Northwest, which was 0-2 at the time.
“That has been something that we have had trouble with and something I’m very, very worried about,” said Fontenot of following up after a big victory. “We are very aware of it and I probably wasn’t the nicest coach this week just because we need to realize it.
‘Hopefully we’ve drawn attention to it enough and the kids realize that we have a lot to play for.
“We’ve given up 100 points in the last two games so they’re playing a little angry this week. Offensively, we kind of feel good about where we’re at so we just need to keep moving forward and not be satisfied and I think we’ll do that.”