Although Westminster’s football program has enjoyed a great deal of success over the years, which has included a plethora of wins, several district championships and many playoff appearances, the Crusaders’ success has been somewhat limited.
Throughout all of the wins, district championships and playoff appearances, the Crusaders haven’t advanced to the semifinals, a feat that head coach Tommy Badon and his team hopes is accomplished tonight at 7 p.m. when they play host to No. 2 seed Haynesville in the Class 1A quarterfinals.
“We do talk about it, but not in terms of that we have never been to the semifinals,” Badon said. “We challenge the kids. We ask them “Are y’all going to be the team that gets to the next level? Are y’all the team that wants to make history? Are y’all the team that wants to leave a bigger legacy by getting to the semifinals? So, we challenge the kids to be that team and be different.”
It won’t be an easy accomplishment for the Crusaders, who are facing a Haynesville team that not only are 9-2 on the year, but haven’t allowed either of their playoff opponents Christian Life and Oberlin to score. Hayneville defeated Christian 28-0 in the bi-district round and Oberlin 38-0 last week in the regional round.
“Haynesville is a very good football team and if you look at film of them from the 1990’s you’ll see the same team you see today,” Badon said. “They are a good football team, so they are not going to just give us the football game. Teams have moved the football against them, but no one has been able to put the ball in the end zone. They are very athletic and extremely aggressive on defense.”
Coaches always hope their team protects the football regardless of their opponent, but it is even more important that the Crusaders don’t beat themselves with turnovers as they did earlier in the season against Haynesville.
“They’re a pretty good team and we’re a pretty good team,” Badon said. “We have to take care of the football and we have done that recently. After the Pointe Coupee Central game we had 21 turnovers, but since then we’re only turned the ball over five times. So, I feel like we’re doing things better today than we were.”
Haynesville, who are known for running the Wing-T offensively, are equipped with weapons in the backfield that are game-changers according to Badon.
“Their best running back is small, but he is as quick as a cat,” Badon said. “Their wingback is 6-0, 205-pounds and he is a good looking kid. They have good solid players and some really good looking athletes. It’s going to be a good game.”
Besides their athleticism, one other thing that jumps out when watching film of Haynesville is the limited amount of miscues they endure throughout a game.
“They make very few mistakes,” Badon said. “In the three films that I’ve watched on them, they fumbled the football once. That’s it. They aren’t going to beat themselves, so if we’re going to beat them we’ll have to do the things that we do well even better. But that’s been our thing all season. We always want to play better this Friday than we did last Friday.”
While doing things better than they have before will be key, so will having other players besides quarterback Luke Judice, running back Wesley Bellard and receiver Jalen Williams to step up and make plays offensively.
“We know that we need to stay balanced,” Badon said. “We have to have options in this game, so we are going to need our playmakers to make plays. Tyler Louvierre has stepped his game up. He has run the ball really well, but we’re going to need people to step up because we can’t just throw it to Jalen or run it with Luke and Wesley all of the time. Our playmakers have to make plays.”