RAYNE — Rayne coach Curt Ware reminded his team all week about the 2011 season when the Wolves started 5-0 and then went 0-5 in district play.
In Friday night’s district opener against Livonia, Rayne assured itself that would not happen in 2012.
Rayne used a heavy dose of Jalen Wiliams — 24 carries for 104 yards — and began district play 1-0 after a 33-26 win over Livonia.
“Anytime you can win a game like this is outstanding,” Ware said. “We talked about 5-5 ever since we lost on this field to St. Charles (in the state quarterfinals). All week long, we talked about our overall district record over the last three or four years. We haven’t done well. This is just a huge win.
Livonia coach David Brewerton said his team came out a little flat and took full responsibility for the loss. On the second play from scrimmage, Rayne used a full back trap which allowed Trent Duhon to scamper 57 yards for the touchdown.
“They did some things that crossed us up formation-wise where they had some overloads,” Brewerton said. “They do a good job with that. We came out lethargic tonight and that’s my fault, but I’m not taking a thing away from Rayne. Those guys played their butts off tonight and Curt had them ready to go.”
In the first quarter, Livonia receivers were beating the Rayne secondary, but quarterback Ben Todd couldn’t find the open receivers. After Todd went 1-for-9 in the first quarter, the Wildcats switched to Kerry Savoy, who had more success for the remainder of the game going 16-for-24 for 236 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed 14 times for 88 yards and two touchdowns.
“I felt like we could incorporate the quarterback into the run game a little bit,” Brewerton said. “Ben is a dropback passer and Kerry moves around a little more. Sometimes we need a little kick start with him running the football.”
After Savoy pulled the Wildcats within one point on a four-yard touchdown run before halftime, Rayne’s Javon Cormier took the ensuing kickoff 90 yards to the end zone, giving Rayne a 14-6 halftime lead and all the momentum back on the Wolves’ side.
A knock on Rayne thus far has been its heavy reliance on the run. Ware acknowledged that they will rely on Williams and Duhon, but he said the Wolves can pass when they need to. Duhon went down early in the second quarter with a hip injury, which forced quarterback Clarence Leger to put the ball in the air. Leger responded by going 5-of-8 for 153 yards and three touchdowns.
“Look, I know we can throw,” Ware said. “Now, we aren’t going to throw unless you force our hand and (Livonia) forced it a little after Trent went down. Clarence had to throw a little bit and I thought he was great tonight.”
Down two scores with 1:50 to play, Livonia put together an impressive drive and capped it off with a nine-yard touchdown pass from Savoy to Darius Hammond. With 42 seconds on the clock, the Wildcats lined up for the onsides kick, which hit a Rayne player and was up for grabs. Eventually, Rayne came down with it and secured the victory.
“This wasn’t a make-or-break win because we have a good enough team to bounce back,” Ware said. “But we got a win against one of the best teams in our district. We are 1-0 in district. This is just a tremendous win for our football team.”