Gents host Madison for Senior Night
CROWLEY – With the chances still on the table for a share of the District 4-4A title and a playoff berth already secured, one would think that the excitement of playing in the postseason for the first time since 2011 would consume the Crowley Gents.
But that isn’t the case for coach Josh Fontenot and his squad, which logged just two victories in 2012.
For the Gents, all their focus remains on Madison (3-6, 0-4), who the Gents play host to this evening on Senior Night at Gardiner Memorial Stadium.
“The only thing that we have said all week about the playoffs is that if we win, we will have a first-round home game. That’s it,” said Fontenot, whose squad currently sits at No. 14 in the LHSAA’s unofficial power rankings. “None of these kids have ever played in a playoff game so we’re going to leave it like that until next week.
“The focus this week has been on Madison. Everything else is out of our hands. The only thing we have control over is how we play against Madison.”
Fontenot says that continuous improvement is what he is looking for in this non-district matchup.
“We cannot afford to be rusty or anything heading into the playoffs,” said Fontenot. “We want to be extremely sharp. We want to come into this and try to dominate this game and do it with no hiccups. That’s what we should do and that’s what we’ve practiced to do.”
In order to do that, the Gents will have to avoid a letdown after picking up a pair of huge district victories over Rayne and Eunice in consecutive weeks. Those two wins gave the Gents an outside shot at winning a 5-way share of the league title if Washington-Marion defeats LaGrange this evening.
“We can’t play down to our opponent’s level,” said Fontenot, whose team lost earlier in the season to Northwest in a game that the Gents were favored to win. “This team has enough athletes to be able to beat you.”
The disturbing thing about the Jaguars is the fact that they are pretty much unknown in this area.
“No one really knows anything about them,” said Fontenot. “Heck, I didn’t know anything about them until we decided to schedule them last year.
“What you have to understand about them is that they have probably won 2-3 football games in the last four years and this year, they’ve won three and they were real close in another one.
“So right now, Madison is kind of excited about playing football, where they haven’t been in the past. If I’m a coach at Madison, I’m talking about knocking off a 4A playoff team and ending my season with a win to build on for next year. They are going to come in and play hard because they have a lot to play for.”
The Jaguars, who are coming off four straight losses, are led offensively by quarterback Jarvis Williams. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound sophomore is one of the team’s leading rushers. He has also shown the ability to throw the ball well at times.
Williams is joined in the backfield by running backs Robert Brown and Camario Powell, each of who posted 100-plus yards on the ground in a 30-22 victory over General Trass earlier in the season.
“We’re back to playing almost a true spread team, which we haven’t played since (Washington) Marion,” said Fontenot. “They like to throw it. Whenever they can protect, they have some good route schemes. They have just had trouble protecting their quarterback this year.”
The Jaguars will also run the football.
“They’ve added a little speed option,” said Fontenot. “They are smart at what they do and they understand what their strengths and weaknesses are and they try to capitalize on the strengths which is throwing the ball and getting it to their athletes.”
The Gents will counter with an offense that racked up 332 yards in a 28-20 victory over Eunice last week.
In that game, quarterback Pate Broussard threw for 190 yards and two touchdowns while running back Chris Lewis rushed for 136 yards and one touchdown.
“It’s fun to watch because of the growth of our quarterback and receivers and the two running backs who are getting more and healthier every week,” said Fontenot of his offense. “It’s been fun to see them progress and kind of grow before our eyes.”
That offense has shown the ability, especially last week, to be a big-play team and also to be a ball-control team that can move the chains when they need to sustain drives.
“We talked earlier in the season that we didn’t want to be a home run offense, but I think the best part of the Eunice game was that we showed some home run plays and we showed that we can drive the ball and kind of grind it out three yards at a time,” said Fontenot. “We’re starting to come together on that end and it’s pretty exciting. It starts with Pate and it kind of trickles down from there.
“And our offensive line is getting healthier as well and they have played pretty well the last two weeks against two pretty good defensive fronts.”
Defensively, the Jaguars run a 3-3 stack, similar to what the Gents ran during the Brent Indest era.
“The good thing that I think helps us this week is that Madison plays a new defense that we haven’t seen in a while,” said Fontenot. “It’s kind of a dying defense (3-3 stack) and we haven’t seen it all year. In a week where it would be kind of easy to take a deep breath and kind of relax, we couldn’t because we have to kind of sharpen ourselves up on a new defense. I’m kind of excited about that because it makes us focus on something new.”
In the case of the Gents, the defense rebounded from a difficult game against Rayne and held Eunice to just 207 total yards and 11 first downs last week. The Bobcats were limited to just four first downs in the second half.
“We played a lot more disciplined football last week than we have the three weeks prior,” said Fontenot. “We tried to take away the inside run because that’s where we’ve been hurt in the past. And I thought we did okay with that.
“If you take away a team’s ability to run the ball consistently, that’s how you win games. If we make people throw it, we’ll have a chance.”