THE POST-SIGNAL / Sophia Fontenot
Crowley High’s Kendall Richard (19), Tyron Goodley (24) and Tyron Domino (7) bring down St. Martinville’s Dayton Faucheaux (16) Friday during the Gents’ 54-14 loss to the Tigers.
St. Martinville runs through Crowley for 6-3A title
Jeptha Wall knew deep down that it would be a struggle for his Crowley High Gents going up against defending District 6-3A champion St. Martinville Friday night.
And as much as he hoped he was wrong, the game turned out pretty much as he feared it might if his Gents didn’t play their best game of the year.
The Tigers got their home crowd into the game early by quickly establishing their running game - 221 yards in the first half alone - and dominating on defense en route to an almost-predictable 54-14 victory over the Gents in CHS’ season finale.
In a Covid-19-plagued 2020 season, when the unimaginable all too many times became reality, the Gents finished the season with an disappointing and uncharacteristic final record of 0-7.
St. Martinville, meanwhile, clinched the District 6-3A title with the victory heading into the first round of the playoffs next week.
“The first series of the game, it kind of looked like we knew what we were doing out there,” said Wall, whose defensive unit forced a three-and-out on the Tigers’ first possession of the night.
But then, he pointed out : “we didn’t get another stop until just before the half. “
The rest of the first half turned out being a nightmare for Wall and the Gents.
But then again....
“I mean, we were playing the defending district champions and they looked every part of it tonight,” he said. “You look at their athletes and their size; it’s almost like playing a (Class) 4A school.”
The Tigers used that size and athleticism to smother the Gents for most of the night as the guests struggled to get anything going.
In the first half, the Gents managed just 51 total yards of offense and 49 of those yards were on one big pass play - Logan Vidrine to Dayten Richard.
At the break, the Gents had run the ball 16 times for minus four yards.
“Their demeanor and their aggressiveness...in the box, they are really good,” said Wall of St. Martinville. “We run the first play and kind of have something going and then a linebacker fills downhill and about knocks our guy out.
“We just never could get things rolling.”
The Tigers, on the other hand, had little trouble making things happen.
After the Gents got the stop on the Tigers’ first possession of the game, the hosts scored on their next five series before sputtering out on their final drive of the half.
Freshman phenom Steven Blanco torched the Gents, despite carrying the ball just six times. Blanco suffered a turf toe injury last week in the first half against Teurlings, but he showed little to no signs of injury on Friday, racking up 109 yards and three touchdowns in just over a quarter and a half.
Blanco got the Tigers on the board midway through the first quarter with a 9-yard touchdown run. Quarterback Tanner Harrison broke loose for a 59-yard run during the drive to set up the touchdown.
From there, it was a combination of Blanco and a host of self-inflicted wounds for the Gents that allowed the Tigers to basically put the game away.
On the Gents’ next series, a bad exchange between center and quarterback led to a turnover at the CHS 19.
Harrison made the Gents pay for the turnover, calling his own number on the very next play for a 19-yard touchdown run.
The Gents gave the Tigers another short field shortly after that when their fake punt attempt failed miserably and they turned the ball over on downs at their own 27-yard line.
After back-to-back incomplete passes, the Tigers went back to Blanco on third down and he delivered with a 27-yard touchdown run.
The Gents looked as if they might have an answer on their next series when Vidrine threw a dart down the field and hit Dayten Richard in stride for a 49-yard pickup at the St. Martinville 21.
But that was as close as the Gents would get; they turned the ball over on downs after a pair of runs for no gain and two incomplete passes.
“We hit a shot and got down there, but then we sputtered out again,” said Wall. “It’s just kind of been like that all year for us. We can just never get things rolling consecutively.”
A pair of runs by Harrison and Kylon Mitchell netted 11 yards and then the Tigers went back to Blanco.
Once again, he delivered, ripping off a 68-yard burst that put the Tigers up 27-0.
That was bad enough, but the Tigers were far from finished, however.
After the Gents were forced to punt on their next offensive series, sophomore Harvey Broussard fielded the kick and returned it 42 yards to the Gents’ 5-yard line. Kelton Marshall took it in on the very next play to push the lead to 33-0.
After an interception by Xavier Kately, the Tigers looked primed to score once more before the intermission. Fortunately for the Gents, Kyle Deville, Kendall Richard and Drake Washington brought down Harrison for a loss on fourth down to end the threat just before the break.
The Gents got their lone highlight of the night when senior Tyron Goodley took the second-half kickoff at the St. Martinville 10-yard line, hit the far sideline and broke numerous tackles en route to a 90-yard touchdown return.
“Tyron had another big return game,” said Wall. “That’s probably his third or fourth game that he has gone for over 100 yards in the return game. Granted, we get the ball kicked to us a lot, but he is special to watch.”
Not to be outdone, the Tigers answered the bell on the ensuing kickoff.
Karon Jean-Lewis took the kick at the 23-yard line and weaved through traffic en route to a 77-yard touchdown.
The two kick returns led to two touchdowns in a matter of 34 seconds.
The Tigers tacked on another score midway through the third quarter after another big 32-yard punt return by Broussard.
Starting at the CHS 26, Mandrel Butler ran for seven yards and then hit paydirt on a 19-yard scamper.
The Gents mounted their only lengthy drive of the game late in the third quarter, sparked by runs by Vidrine, Jonkeyvon Marks, Nick Williams and Dylan Brooks. The Gents marched down to the St. Martinville 11 on 12 plays before Goodley plunged in on the next play.
With the reserves in, the Tigers scored the final touchdown of the night with just over four minutes remaining when Cullen Charles hooked up with Jean-Louis on a 40-yard touchdown pass.
The game spelled the end of the road for five Crowley seniors - Vidrine, Richard, Brooks, Goodley and Kendall Richard.
“I wish we could have sent these seniors out on a better note, but these five guys were fun to coach,” said Wall of his seniors. “They were fun to be around, I love them and we will definitely miss them. But thank goodness, I got another six months with them if COVID holds off.”
While the season was not what Wall or the Gents had hoped for, it was at least a season in a time of uncertainty.
“This group as a whole was just a great group to coach,” said Wall. “There wasn’t any complaining, they were just happy they got to play. As coaches or spectators, I think we kind of forget that aspect of it: that some of these guys, after what we went through those few months, they were just happy to be playing football.”