The Ascension Episcopal Blue Gators face a team with a lot of similarities to themselves in the semifinals of the LHSAA Division IV playoffs where they will host St. Mary’s on Friday, with a chance to make it to the state championship game for the first time in school history.
Ascension Episcopal coach Mike Desormeaux said after talking to St. Mary’s coach and beginning to prepare for the Tigers he noticed how similar the teams were in style.
“I think they are very similar to us. I talked to their coach last night and they do some things really on offense and mix it up,” Desormeaux said. “They run the ball really well, but their quarterback puts the ball where it needs to go on offense when they throw it. Defensively they play really hard and they play fast.”
Desormeaux said one noticeable difference between the teams is their base formation on offense and how much the Tigers’ quarterback runs the ball.
While Ascension Episcopal does run senior quarterback Jake Arceneaux at times, the Blue Gators incorporate some pro-style elements into their offense, while the Tigers run almost everything out of the spread.
And while most people think of spread offenses as being primarily passing-based, the Tigers use their spacing to punish teams on the ground.
“Their quarterback runs a lot, more than we do with ours he probably carries the ball 17 times a game and does a good job of doing it,” Desormeaux said. “They don’t get in much pro-style stuff at all, they like to spread you out, but they spread you out to run the ball not to throw it.”
Desormeaux said the Tigers’ offense is similar to what they saw from St. Frederick in the first round, who the Blue Gators held to seven points, and Central Catholic who they faced in the final week of the season.
Desormeaux said the he always has confidence in his staff’s defensive plan and didn’t think this week would be any different come game time.
“I always feel good about our plan, our defensive staff does a fantastic job every week,” Desormeaux said. “That’s one thing about coach McCullough, you’re not going to outwork him. There’s not doubt that every week we have a solid game plan going and I’m confident we’ll have it figured out once we go through practice.”
Offensively, the Blue Gators will try to get senior running back Ja’Ceiry Linzer going early in order to open up the rest of their playbook and keep the Tigers off balance.
“We definitely need to mix it up, but when we get Ja’Ceiry going it’s really good for us,” Desormeaux said. “I definitely think this is the kind of game that Ja’Ceiry can have a really big role in if we can get him going early.”
And after having to travel to get the win in the second round, the Blue Gators get the chance to host the Tigers in the semifinals.
Desormeaux said in the build up to the game against Cedar Creek one of the main motivations was winning in the second round to get one more home game.
“We love playing at home and there’s not doubt that our kids play better at home,” Desormeaux said. “And they are fired up to get back at home. It’s a little bit of a bummer to have to travel in the second round and all week I told them, ‘Let’s just win this one, so we can get one more at home.'”
Game: 7 p.m., Friday at Ascension Episcopal
Seed: No. 1 Ascension Episcopal; No. 4 St. Mary’s
Last game: Ascension Episcopal beat Cedar Creek 42-0; St. Mary’s beat Hamilton Christian 42-7
Last year: Ascension Episcopal lost to Southern Lab 44-19 in the second round; St. Mary’s lost to Ouachita Christian 38-12 in semifinal
Players to Watch: AES – Ja’Ceiry Linzer, RB; Jake Arceneaux, QB; Ronald Leblanc, WR; St. Mary’s
Sept. 4 Beat East Beauregard 29-22, 11 beat CATHOLIC-PC 35-14, 17 beat Delcambre 48-6, 25 beat HANSON 49-12, Oct. 2 beat Gueydan 65-0, 9 beat VERMILION CATHOLIC 40-39, 16 beat Centerville 48-8, 23 beat HIGHLAND BAPTIST 55-19, 30 beat LAFAYETTE CHRISTIAN 35-7, Nov. 6 lost Central Catholic 46-22; PLAYOFFS; beat St. Frederick 21-7; Nov. 20 beat CEDAR CREEK 42-0; 27 St. Mary’s
Sept. 4 beat Lakeview 51-14; 11 beat North Caddo 42-12; 18 beat PLAIN DEALING 54-6; 25 beat LOYOLA PREP 26-12; Oct. 2 beat Lakeside 47-0; 8 beat MONTGOMERY 42-6; 16 beat LOGANSPORT 42-12; 23 beat Northwood-Lena 45-0; 30 beat LASALLE 41-7; Nov. 6 beat Block 46-0; PLAYOFFS; beat St. Edmund 34-8; 20 beat HAMILTON CHRISTIAN 48-0; 27 ASCENSION EPISCOPAL