Prior to the start of the season, the general consensus from the coaches in District 9-3A was that the Patterson Lumberjacks were the favorites to win the district crown and everyone else would be playing for second place.
But it only took four weeks for that notion to be dismissed as the North Vermilion Patriots routed the Lumberjacks 31-14 to improve to 2-2 on the year and place themselves in the driver’s seat for the district championship.
“I know that a lot of people won’t believe this, but we felt going into this game against Patterson that we could scheme our way into the fourth quarter with the game close,” Patriots head coach Tommy Byler said. “We had to sell our kids on the thought that we could win, but if you would have told me that we would win in the way that we did I would have said you’re crazy.”
No one could have predicted the Patriots would dominate the Lumberjacks as they did Friday night, in which they were leading 31-6 late in the fourth quarter. Patterson added a touchdown with 3:45 remaining in the game to close the deficit to 31-14.
“I really feel like our kids believed they could win this game,” Byler said. “I don’t think they expected to win in this fashion, but they really believed this was a winnable game.”
One of the biggest reasons why the Patriots were brewing with confidence entering their game against the Lumberjacks was a result of how well they believed they played in losses to Vermilion Catholic and Catholic High of New Iberia.
“We came really close against two very good football teams,” Byler said. “When we watched the film from the Catholic High game and the kids were able to see things from a different perspective, they realized just how close they were in that game. We moved the football up and down the field against a very good defense. We told the kids that if we can put it all together against Patterson, we feel that we have a scheme that can hurt them. It all came together and we got the win.”
Offensively, the Patriots were led by quarterback Joe Duhon as he completed 5-of-11 passes for 134 yards and one interception while also rushing for 158 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries. Duhon also caught a 47-yard touchdown pass on a throw from Jake Morvant.
“What a great victory for our program,” Byler said. “I was talking to the other coaches here and we were saying that it was time for us to get that big win in front of our home crowd. We’ve won some here, but they were games we were supposed to win. In the three years that I’ve been here, we couldn’t knock off E.D. White or Notre Dame here, so we have never had that signature win. We’ve finally gotten it.”
The Catholic High of New Iberia Panthers are fully aware of what their defense is capable of and on Friday night so does the Church Point Bears.
Behind a defensive unit led by linebackers Jared Bullock and Hunt Simon, the Panthers were sensational on the defensive side of the football. Not only did they hold the Bears scoreless in a 44-0 win, but allowed only one first down and no third down conversions in 10 attempts.
“Just an incredible performance,” Panthers defensive coordinator John Louviere said. “Last week I felt like we came out flat and this week we made it a point to come out and make a statement with our play. We wanted to come out and prove that we’re a good defensive team by playing up to our potential and that’s what we did.”
In addition to allowing one first down and zero third down conversions, the Panthers’ defense also held the Bears to a total of 53 yards of total offense and didn’t allow Church Point to enter Catholic’s territory at any point in the game.
“We had been hearing all week how they were rushing for 250 yards per game,” Bullock said. “We took that as a challenge and we came out fired up. To hold them to what we held them to, especially with how much they had been rushing for per game, is really exciting. We always knew that we had a great defense, but we didn’t want anyone to just give us their respect. We wanted to make a statement and earn their respect.”
Bullock and Simon credited the coaching staff for devising a game plan that worked “to perfection.”
“The game plan was the key to our success,” Bullock said. “We had a great game plan given to us by our coaches and we did a great job of going out and executing it.”
Follow assistant sports editor Eric
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