HAYNESVILLE —White Castle played Haynesville even for a quarter and shut down more than one of the Golden Tornado’s most dangerous weapons.
But it takes more than that to beat the deep and talented two-time defending Class 1A champions. Haynesville showed off its full arsenal of running backs and wore down the Bulldogs for a 30-16 win in Friday’s quarterfinal at Red Franklin Stadium.
“Our offense, we have plays that work off of each other,” said Haynesville coach David Franklin. “We’ve got some backs that have a few injuries right now so we’re kind of having to go with what works.”
It looked like an unfair fight from the start, with at least twice as many players on Haynesville’s sideline as White Castle, who lists only 25 on its roster. But the Bulldogs quickly marched down the field for the opening touchdown, capped off by eighth-grade quarterback Jeremie Richard’s 25-yard touchdown pass to Dontrell Taylor.
Franklin told sophomore Jamarceon Jackson before the game he wouldn’t replicate last week’s performance of more than 200 yards, and he finished with just 18 rush yards on six carries. But seven different Tors picked up at least 10 yards, led by 83 yards and two touchdowns for Treyon Hunter.
“It helped me out a lot,” Hunter said. “We sub all the time.”
White Castle’s defense couldn’t do the same, and it showed in the second quarter when Haynesville opened up a decisive 24-8 lead. Quick backs such as Hunter and Jackson made way for bigger, stronger runners like Keondre Harris while the offensive line continued to grind and open up holes.
Haynesville’s first touchdown drive went 50 yards on nine plays without a pass, and the next one went 52 yards on eight plays, including one completion and one near interception for quarterback Trent Franklin.
Hunter agreed with his coach that the Tors relaxed a little after racing out to a 30-8 lead, and they didn’t even have the best player on the field. That honor belonged to White Castle senior Taylor, who seemed to always be around the ball on defense and caught five passes to go along with 58 yards on a team-high 17 carries.
“He’s one of the best football players I’ve seen all year long, if not the best,” David Franklin said. “He plays tremendously hard.”
But other than running back Daniel Edwards and his 78 yards on 13 carries, largely thanks to a 33-yard run in the third quarter, Taylor never got much help. Jackson and Josh Evans both picked off passes in the second half, while the Haynesville defense led by linebacker Brian Randle made several tackles in the backfield.
The Tors will need all their weapons again next week against a familiar foe after No. 7 seed Arcadia upset No. 2 Basile. Haynesville beat the Hornets 57-38 earlier this season and will play one more game at home for a chance to go back to the Dome, but Franklin said it’s not an ideal matchup.
“I didn’t want to play Arcadia because we’ve already played them once,” he said. “I knew when they got into the playoffs, when the bracket came out, I said Arcadia will be in the semifinals. I hope we’re there to play them.”