When Barbe’s players ran off the field in celebration as the final seconds ticked away in a 45-35 5A quarterfinal win, Parkway coach David Feaster saw disappointment on the faces of his players.
“I told them before the season: ‘Guys, if you lose in the finals, in the semifinals or whatever, it’s always going to hurt,'” Feaster said. “We are very disappointed because we were that close, and we wanted a shot at West Monroe.”
But soon after Parkway’s loss, Feaster expected the emotion to turn to reflection.
“I’m going to talk to them in a little while, and now we can start thinking about getting 11 wins for the first time in school history,” Feaster said. “We were district champs and made the quarterfinals in 5A. We got to play in front of these incredible fans. There is a lot to remember.
“And for the young guys, we start thinking about how close we were and what we need to do to get it done next time.”
The No. 7 Panthers (11-2) had chances against No. 2 Barbe (12-1) Friday night.
Parkway’s defense picked off Barbe quarterback Kennon Fontenot three times in the first half. Defensive lineman Antonio McGee also sacked Fontenot on the Barbe 5-yard line. McGee’s big hit forced Fontenot’s throw backward, and Hunter Huckaby recovered for a touchdown that put Parkway up 21-14 at the end of the first quarter.
“Our defense played with great courage and great character,” Feaster said. “Barbe is a very talented offensive team. I’m very proud of our effort.”
But Fontenot was able to find receiver Trey Quinn for multiple first-half touchdown passes. The two connected on scoring plays of 12, 5, 57 and 7 yards.
“Our offensive line was giving him time to find me,” Quinn said. “We have a bunch of weapons, and defenses have to key on them all. You can’t just look at one person, and that’s why we’ve played so well all year.”
Parkway didn’t have much trouble finding the end zone in the first half either. In addition to the Panthers’ defensive score, Marcus Harper ran in a 12-yard touchdown, and Brandon Harris had two TD passes — 56 yards to Holden Orgeron and 2 yards to Brodrick Jefferson.
Parkway had the ball to start the third quarter and reached the Barbe 40, but a fumble ended the drive.
The Buccaneers were determined not to turn it over in the second half. Running back Courtney Galentine carried the ball seven straight times to set up a 1-yd quarterback sneak score from Fontenot that put Barbe up 35-28.
“Courtney is a big time player who makes the big plays,” Quinn said of Galentine, who picked up most of his 138 rushing yards in the second half. “He really leads this team, and I think he’s one of the most underrated running backs in the state.”
Parkway tied the game again with a trick play on their next possession. Harris threw the ball deep to Marquis King, who had been hidden on the sideline and wasn’t in the huddle. King caught the ball, cut between two defenders, and sprinted for a 75-yard touchdown.
Barbe, however, was too much for the Panthers. The Buccaneers ran nearly 80 plays.
“We try to get to the line fast and run a lot of plays in a little time,” Quinn said. “That’s key to our offense, spread them out and try to beat their athletes.”
Barbe took the lead on a 25-yard field goal near the end of the third quarter. The score came after a 9-yard punt from Parkway set the Buccaneers up with a first down on the Panthers 15.
“Barbe’s defense adjusted to what we like to do on offense,” Feaster said. “It was a steady fight back and forth, and we just weren’t quite good enough. We would have had to play just about a perfect game.”
Galentine scored Barbe’s final points with an 8-yard touchdown run with 7:16 left in the game.
Parkway did have chances to answer late, but a fumble into the end zone gave Barbe a touchback. The Panthers’ final drive ended with a dropped pass inside Barbe’s 10.
“Next year we have to be a little more physical, a little bit faster and develop a few more weapons,” Feaster said. “I think right now, the young guys have a great challenge ahead going into the offseason.
“Sometimes you play and get beat by 50 and think: ‘There’s nothing we can do.’ But when you play a team that’s this good, and have them on the ropes if a few things go differently, it makes you want to work harder.”
Barbe will play defending 5A champion West Monroe in the semifinals.
“Parkway is a heck of a 5A team,” Quinn said. “If we hadn’t won tonight, I think they would have a good run, just like we are about to have.”
Connect with Brent Shirley on Twitter at @bshirley08.