Gents look to get back on winning track at LaGrange
CROWLEY – Josh Fontenot knew it wouldn’t be an easy road to the playoffs for his Crowley High Fighting Gents in 2013 and with four weeks to go in the regular season, that path is getting a little rockier with each and every game.
The Gents, coming off a disheartening 28-21 loss to Washington-Marion last week, are currently in the midst of a brutal three-game District 4-4A stretch where they will face off against the top three teams in the league in as many weeks.
That stretch begins Thursday with a road contest at LaGrange.
“The next three games are huge, with all good teams,” said Fontenot, whose squad sits at 4-2 on the season and 2-1 in league play. “When you look at the scores from the last few weeks, everybody has kind of played each other and everything seems to be pretty even.
“Every team is beatable. It’s an exciting time, but we just have to end up on the right end.”
What Fontenot will be looking for this week will be the ability of his Gents to put together four solid quarters, something that has eluded them in each of their first six outings.
“What we’re missing right now is the ability to put together a complete game, and that’s been even in our wins,” said Fontenot. “We’ve always had a quarter, or a section in the middle of two quarters, where we don’t play very good football and either keep people in the game or dig ourselves a hole, which more times than not we’ve been able to get ourselves out of; which is a good thing.
“But if we could just put together a whole game, then we wouldn’t have to do that and we could control some things.”
It all starts with LaGrange, which enters the contest with a deceiving 1-5 record. The Gators secured their first victory of the season last week with a 19-7 win at Eunice.
The Gators’ five losses have been at the hands of perennial powerhouses Notre Dame (28-14), Barbe (42-18), University (33-22) and Calvary Baptist (35-6). They also lost their district opener two weeks ago to Class 4A’s No. 10-ranked Rayne.
“LaGrange is as good a team as you will play in our district,” said Fontenot. “I would bet, after watching everybody on film, they are the most physical team that we will play defensively, especially. They really, really come after you and hit you hard.
“They are not as big as a (Washington) Marion team, but they are probably more athletic than a Marion team, which says a lot because Marion is very athletic.”
Fontenot said last week’s loss to Washington-Marion left a bad taste in his team’s mouth and the Gents are more than ready for the test LaGrange presents.
“This is another huge challenge for us, but it’s one that we are excited about,” said Fontenot, whose team rallied from a two-score deficit last week to take a lead, only to relinquish it in the final seven minutes.
“The kids are kind of angry after last week, knowing that we let one kind of slip out of our hands. They are handling that well. Instead of being down, they are angry and that’s a good thing. That’s what you need after a tough loss. You need to get mad and push forward and they are doing that.”
LaGrange will provide a stiff challenge for the Gents on both sides of the football.
Starting on the offensive side, the Gators run out of multiple formations and they seemingly hit their stride last week when they posted 340 total yards of offense against a very stout Eunice defensive unit.
Running back Markell Hawthorne torched the Bobcats for 150 yards and two touchdowns on just 18 carries while quarterback Quindon Barry completed 11 of 19 pass attempts for 118 yards. Barry’s main target in the victory was Jeremiah West, who logged 52 yards receiving.
Alvinosky LaFleur shared time with Barry at quarterback in the Gators’ 14-12 loss to Rayne two weeks ago. He completed four passes for 30 yards and he picked up another 36 yards on eight carries.
“They (LaGrange) are hard to prepare for because they do a lot of different things,” said Fontenot. “They use a lot of formations and they don’t favor just one thing. They are not a wing-t team, they are not a spread team and they’re not an ‘I’ team. But at times, they’ve been all of them; you just don’t know what you are going to get.”
The key, said Fontenot, is an impressive offensive line and quality backs.
“The athletic ability is definitely there and everything they do is good and sound,” said Fontenot. “They just don’t seem to stick with one thing, which makes it hard for us to prepare for.
“I guess the bad thing for us is that they are starting to figure out what they want to do and they are starting to put it all together. When you have a team that is that athletic and physical, when they start figuring what they want to do and get good at it, then it becomes very hard to defend and stop.”
Defensively, the Gators held Eunice to just 150 total yards of offense last week. More impressively, they limited Rayne’s potent offensive attack to just 183 yards two weeks ago.
Those are numbers that have Fontenot concerned.
“Rayne is probably putting up almost 400 yards per game so that (holding the Wolves to 183) says a lot,” said Fontenot. “With them being so athletic - and they are super well coached - it makes them dangerous. They are a good unit, probably the best we’ll play all year.”
The key for the Gents, said Fontenot, will be consistency.
“It’s up to us to do some things that maybe we haven’t done before or maybe do things that we have done, just do them better,” he said. “We can’t turn the ball over this week, that’s for sure.”
On the injury front, the Gents will get Alex Ashby back at free safety after he was sidelined three weeks ago with a concussion.
“We get Alex back and that’s good,” said Fontenot. “He feels good and we’re excited to have him back. He’s kind of the voice back there for us in the secondary and he’s done a good job, especially as a young player, to come in and really lead the back of our defense.”
That’s the good news.
The bad news is that the Gents will be without the services of defensive lineman Kaj LeMaire, who suffered a season-ending knee injury at practice Monday.
“I really feel bad for Kaj,” said Fontenot. “It was just one of those freak football things where someone got rolled up on him and, unfortunately, he won’t be with us the rest of the year.
“He was kind of anchoring the middle of our defense so now we have to, once again, adjust and move people around and step up.
“We’ve handled injuries all year and this one is no different. We’ll play hard and the guys who move into that position will play hard for Kaj. Hopefully we can fill that void, but it will be a hard void to fill because Kaj is a good player.”