THE POST-SIGNAL / Josh Dugar
Crowley High’s Abel Hernandez (52) and Kyler Rawls (71) bring down an Erath player during the Gents’ 40-36 loss to the Bobcats last week. The Gents entertain St. Martinville tonight at 7 p.m.
Gents looking to secure playoff spot tonight
After a heartbreaking loss to Erath on a last-second touchdown, the Crowley Gents find themselves with their backs against the wall entering their district and regular-season finale tonight against St. Martinville.
The Gents (5-4) entered this week at No. 28 in the Class 3A power ratings, leaving them just four spots ahead of the cutoff mark for postseason play.
A victory over the Tigers would all but secure a playoff spot for the Gents.
A loss, however, could have them on the outside looking in.
“This is a huge week for us,” said CHS coach Jeptha Wall, whose team takes on the Tigers 7 o’clock at Gardiner Memorial Stadium. “We dropped a lot (in the power ratings) last week and now we’re back in that last-minute deal where we control our own fate.
“We need to win to assure that we get in. I don’t know if we can get in without a win and it’s not like we have a cupcake coming to town.”
St. Martinville is far from a lightweight.
The Tigers, who are also on the bubble at No. 27, are just 4-5 thus far, but the bulk of those losses have been at the hands of quality opponents. The Tigers have dropped games to Class 5A Lafayette High and 4A powers Breaux Bridge, Carencro and Teurlings. Their lone loss in district was to Kaplan three weeks ago, 26-15.
“St. Martinville is another team whose record doesn’t indicate how good they are,” said Wall. “They have been in a dogfight every week, almost, and they typically hang around until the end.
“They are just big and physical and they have athletes.”
One of those athletes Wall is concerned about is senior running back Bryan Wiltz, who ran for 84 yards and a touchdown last week in a 20-16 loss to Teurlings. He also had six receptions for 61 yards.
Another weapon in the Tigers’ arsenal is 6-foot-3, 165-pound freshman receiver Harvey Broussard, who hauled in three passes from quarterback Tanner Harrison last week for 79 yards and a touchdown.
Harrison is a dual threat quarterback who gave Teurlings trouble. He completed 12 of 26 passes for 179 yards and also rushed nine times for 55 yards.
“The Wiltz kid can flat out fly,” said Wall. “He reminds me of Obadiah (Butler) a little bit and they use him some at wildcat. And they have a big receiver that can play.
“Their quarterback is pretty decent and he can chunk it a mile.”
While Harrison can put up big numbers through the air, Wall is expecting St. Matinville coach Vincent Derouen to try and establish the Tigers’ run game.
“Vince’s philosophy is...‘this is who we are and this is what we do’ so he’s going to run some power stuff and try to be more aggressive than you in the box; try and pound it as much as he can and if he has too, he’s going to throw some hitches and bubbles and screens and then if he has to throw vertical, he will,” said Wall.
“But he likes to keep it pretty simple and see if he can outmuscle you in the box first.”
The Gents were lights out against Erath’s running attack last week, allowing the Bobcats just 71 yards on 31 rushes.
“We were extremely good last week against the run,” said Wall.
The Tigers have been known to give up points in bunches defensively. They have allowed 20 points or better six times, including two weeks ago when they slipped past Erath, 28-27, on a missed two-point conversion.
The leaders on defense for the Tigers are defensive tackle Quinton Butler and linebacker Noah Luke, according to Wall.
“They have a great defensive tackle, who can flat out play,” said Wall. “And their linebacker is really good.
“They remind me of us a lot in that they have the right guys in the right places. They may have a lot more size, overall, than we do.”
Offensively, the Gents have been clicking on all cylinders. They racked up just over 300 yards and posted 36 points last week, boosting their season scoring average to 34.5 points per game.
Butler was once again the leader by scoring in nearly every phase of the game . He had two rushing touchdowns, one reception for a score and he returned a kickoff 80 yards for another touchdown.
Chris Moore also had a big night with seven carries for 29 yards and one reception for 24 more yards.
“Our offense has been stepping up,” said Wall. “Obadiah is doing his thing and Chris Moore played really well last week. We are going to need that again this week.”
For the Gents, the key to their success will likely fall on the defensive’s shoulders.
“We haven’t been able to get off the field on third down right now,” said Wall. “We gave up two huge ones late in the game last week. We’ve got to be able to get those stops.”
Unfortunately, the Gents may be a little short handed this week. Standout lineman Kendall Harmon, who missed last week’s contest, may still be sidelined with a hamstring issue and Rodney Goodley, who has been stellar on both sides of the ball, is going through a bout with the flu.
In addition, linebacker Josh Richard has missed time this week with food poisoning.
“Those guys will be a game-time decision,” said Wall. “We’re waiting to see if they can go. If not, then it is what it is. It’s the next man up.”