It has been a historic run to the LHSAA Division IV football semifinals for Cedar Creek.
The first semifinal game in school history will kickoff at 7 p.m. Friday at top-seeded Vermilion Catholic School in Abbeville. Cedar Creek head coach Ben Haddox had been part of two previous trips to the quarterfinals with the program, first as a player in 1995 and then an assistant coach in 2007.
Now that the coach has finally reached the “next round,” he attributes the success to something not found in a playbook or a weight room.
The Cougars have stuck together because of being about “family first”.
“That means everything to us,” Haddox said. “These guys care about each other, they play for each other.”
The close-knit unit within the Cougar locker room has given the Cougars (9-3) a chance to succeed each time the outside world doubted them.
“We tell each other we love each other every day,” Cedar Creek running back Donald Jenkins said. “We are a family, we play for each other and it isn’t about us as individuals. I just want to do whatever I can to help my team.”
Jenkins has certainly helped the Cougars rise to the challenge throughout the year. The running back is one of the most prolific rushers in 1A football, rushing for 1,820 yards and 21 TDs.
The Cougars have picked up each other in tough times, and it continues to lead to success. When Jenkins was limited by the St. Edmund’s defense last week, quarterback Mark Van picked up the offense with 181 yards and three touchdowns for a 28-7 win.
“I will win or lose every day with that kid,” Haddox said of his senior signal caller. “He is a great leader.”
On the season, Van has rushed for 1,366 yards and 20 touchdowns, while also completing 93-of-173 passes for 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns.
The Cougars will now face one of their toughest challenges of the season at 12-0 Vermilion Catholic.
Quarterback Brennan Gallet has passed for 2,330 yards and 28 touchdowns this season. Wide receiver Connor Menard has been his favorite target with the Screamin’ Eagles with more than 900 yards receiving.