Crowley set to renew rivalry with Rayne
CROWLEY – Up until two years ago, it was one of the longest standing rivalries in Acadia Parish - Crowley High vs. Rayne High.
But once the two teams went their separate ways during the 2010 district realignment, the schools decided against playing each other.
Tonight, the rivalry will be renewed when the Gents play host to the Wolves in a pivotal District 4-4A contest at Gardiner Memorial Stadium.
This year, the matchup has much more at stake than just bragging rights.
The Gents (4-3, 2-2) are coming off of back-to-back district losses and are trying to claw their way back into the league race.
The Wolves (6-1, 2-1) are coming off their first loss overall and first in the district as they attempt to stay atop the league standings.
Needless to say, both teams need a victory in a big way.
“This is a big game for us coming off of two losses,” said CHS coach Josh Fontenot. “It’s big in the fact that it is Rayne and that’s a rival and also because they are 6-1, so that’s some big power points for us if we can win.
“And then it (victory) will put us at 5-3, which guarantees you a winning record which we haven’t had in a while.
“There are a lot of big implications on this game, but for the main reason, we need to win to get back on the winning track.”
For Rayne, a victory keeps the Wolves in the running for a district championship.
“We’re coming off the worst game we’ve played all season long,” said RHS coach Curt Ware, whose squad dropped a 23-11 decision to Eunice last week. “Not to take anything away from Eunice, but we definitely weren’t at our best.”
That aside, Ware said his team still has every goal it has set still ahead of it.
“If we win out, we’re still going to be the district champions,” he said. “We might have to share it, but we’ll still be district champions.”
Looking at the big picture, Rayne is sitting in a comfortable position (No. 11) in the LHSAA power ratings that were released last week.
“You want to go into the playoffs on a good note and get the highest seed possible, so the biggest game of the season is right now,” said Ware.
Crowley, on the other hand, is near the bubble with three weeks remaining in the regular season. The Gents are currently at No. 30.
“It’s getting close to a must-win situation,” said Fontenot. “Of the next three games, to guarantee a playoff spot, I think we have to win two of them. I like our odds against Madison in Week 10 so one of these next two games is extremely important. We want to beat Rayne, though. We want to beat a team that’s 6-1, we want to beat our rival and we don’t want to be on a three-game losing skid.”
In order to avoid a third straight loss, the Gents will have to find a way to contain the Wolves’ potent ground attack that has put up big numbers all season long.
Trent Duhon leads a three-headed ground attack that includes Javon Cormier and Byron Mouton. That trio has combined for over 1,600 yards and 17 touchdowns thus far.
Duhon leads the parish with 117 carries for 888 yards and 11 touchdowns. Cormier has racked up 451 yards and four touchdowns on 70 carries while Mouton has 53 carries for 325 yards and two touchdowns.
“Rayne has three good backs and they are all solid,” said Fontenot. “Trent is a bruiser and he plays his position very well. He knows how to be a power back, he has some speed to him when he gets into the open field and he’s good.
“Javon is their speedster and they run their speed sweep stuff with him. Byron is a newcomer for them, but he has come on very well. He’s not very big, but if he gets in the open field, we will have a tough time getting him down.”
Crowley will counter with a pair of very talented backs in Ty’Von Griffin and Chris Lewis. Griffin has totaled 747 yards and 11 touchdowns on 134 carries while Lewis has 542 yards and six touchdowns on 93 carries.
“They have a real big offensive line and they have two quality backs,” said Ware of Crowley’s offense. “The fullback and tailback are both real good. The fullback (Griffin) runs real hard and he looks like a pretty well put together kid and the tailback (Lewis) is fast.”
When you add in quarterback Pate Broussard, who has completed 72 passes for 914 yards and eight touchdowns, the Gents’ offensive potential is almost limitless.
“Their quarterback is real nifty,” said Ware. “He’s not real big, but he runs well and he throws it pretty good, too. They are a pretty good offensive football team. They’re not supper flashy in what they do but they do it pretty good.”
Defensively, both teams had their struggles last week.
The Gents surrendered 420 yards of offense and eight touchdowns in a 52-27 loss to LaGrange while Rayne, a typically stingy defense, gave up 345 yards and 18 first downs in a 23-11 loss to Eunice.
“Anytime you play a team that is primarily a veer football team, you have to take away the fullback,” said Ware. “You have to worry about the pitch, but the number one thing you have to do is stop the fullback.
“Last week, our effort wasn’t what it had been. Prior to that game, we hadn’t really given up much yardage. We didn’t get ourselves mentally prepared to play (against Eunice) and that’s what we have to do this week. We had a real good day of practice yesterday and I think we will come in ready to play.”
Crowley’s defense will be put to the test once again by an offensive front that could be one of the biggest across the board that they have faced.
“I think the strength of their team is definitely their offensive line,” said Fontenot of Rayne. “They have a lot of size there, a lot of experience and they are athletic. They have played very well all year and I think that’s what makes Rayne good on offense this year. It’s a good unit and I think it will be the best offensive line we will have played all year as a whole.”
The key for Rayne this week will be to get back to the basics on offense.
“We have to get back to doing what we do, which is control the football,” said Ware. “You know, a little play-action here and there to keep people honest and I think we’ll be fine.”
For Crowley, the big issue will be coming together with a number of fresh faces filling in for some injuries to key plays. The Gents were already without the services of defensive lineman Kaj LeMaire and they lost a two-way starter at tackle, Luke Stutes, last week due to a concussion. Linebacker Ed Yokum is also questionable this week following an injury at LaGrange.
“We have to do everything shorthanded,” said Fontenot. “We have guys going both ways this week that haven’t done that at all this season. We’re beat up and we’re down two more starters after the LaGrange game but that’s the story of the season.
“Being 4-3 is not horrible, but we don’t want to end up 4-6. We’re going to have to very much pull together and come together as a unit and play well in all three phases of the game. There’s no offense, defense and special teams units; there’s one unit because everybody is part of all of them right now.”