The chance to play for a state title. The chance to get back on the winning side after two straight losses and break an 0-7 streak in the semifinals. The chance to win three times in a row against St. Thomas More and take the lead in the all-time series. The chance to carry the town bragging rights all the way to New Orleans.
What more could either time ask for in the rematch between Teurlings and St. Thomas More on Friday in the LHSAA Division II semifinal game?
Teurlings coach Sonny Charpentier said while the game was good for the city of Lafayette, it was unfortunate that the two teams couldn’t meet in the final week of the season
“I think it’s unfortunate that one team for Lafayette is not going to be going, but that is just the nature of the beast,” Charpentier said. “We played each other in district. But for both of us to get here, it’s a good thing for Lafayette, it’s a good thing for our district. At least we know someone will be representing Lafayette in the dome and playing for a state championship.”
And while the hype outside of the two programs might be growing, Charpentier said he’s sure both teams will go into the game well-prepared and focused on the task at hand.
Something that might have been helped with schools being out for Thanksgiving this week.
“It would probably have a little bit more of a feel or that buzz of a big ball game if we were in school and not on vacation,” Charpentier said. “I can tell you this and it is kind of cheesy, but it’s just another game in the process of trying to win a state championship.
“I’m kind of old, so I’m not on social media or anything like that and I don’t know what they are saying. But I when I see them at practice in the morning they look focused.”
St. Thomas More offensive coordinator Shane Savoie said being off for Thanksgiving holidays also helped the Cougars’ players and coaches.
“I know for me being a teacher it was nice not having to worry about the classroom responsibilities all week and I was able to put a little more work into the game plan,” Savoie said. “And with our kids, we always have to worry about them having four or five tests in a week, or a couple hours of homework. This week that hasn’t been as big of an issue.”
Savoie said being out of school can be a double-edged sword, as the coaches aren’t as sure the players are using their free time effectively, but the nature of the game and the opponent has helped keep everyone on their game.
For St. Thomas More, the Cougars have the challenge of overcoming a team that dominated them physically at the line of scrimmage in the first game of the season, which they lost 42-28.
“I think we were able to accomplish what we wanted to on the edges,” Savoie said. “But physically up front they just handled us. It doesn’t matter what kind of offense or defense you run, football is a game that is won in the trenches.
“We have to establish a running game and be balanced like we were throughout the season.”
Charpentier said if the Rebels could have a blueprint from the first game and just re-do it, they would, but said every game poses a different set of challenges.
The Rebels were particularly effective at dominating the time of possession battle, thanks to a turnover-free game.
“We didn’t turn the ball over in that game and when we don’t turn the ball over, we’re pretty good. When we do turn the ball over, we’re average,” Charpentier said. “So offensively, we need to take care of the ball and stay ahead of the chains. But saying it and doing is often two different things.”
One x-factor the Rebels have in their favor is getting senior running back Noah Harris back from injury. Harris didn’t play in the first game due to injury, but returned to the field against De La Salle in the quarterfinals and gives Teurlings another option in the power running game that was so effective in the first matchup.
Charpentier said while the rest of the Rebels filled in well for Harris while he was out, having him back on the rotation adds another fresh body to the rotation.
“I think it should help, but obviously you still have to go out there and play,” Charpentier said. “It looked like he had never been out. It’s one thing to come back from injury it’s another thing to play well. He’ll be the first to tell you the offensive line played well. But he definitely had a little pep in his step.”
Savoie said he was sure the Cougars would be motivated to stop Harris and the rest of the Rebels after not playing their best game in the first matchup.
And a trip to the Superdome is quite the incentive package.
“Every time when you lose to a team, you want another shot at them especially if you feel like you didn’t give them your best,” Savoie said. “I don’t feel like we were able to them our best shot the first time, so hopefully we can do that this time with a little refocusing.”
Game: 7 p.m., Friday at St. Thomas More
Seed: No.2 St. Thomas More; No. 6 Teurlings
Last year: St. Thomas More lost to Jesuit 20-13 in quarterfinals; Teurlings lost to Rummel 28-20 in quarterfinals
Players to Watch: TC – Noah Harris, RB; Hayden Cantrelle, WR; Alec Robertson, LB; STM – Evan Trahan, RB; Griffin Hebert, WR; Logan Klusman, DL
St. Thomas More
Sept. 4 beat Sulphur 31-13; 10 beat Eldorado 44-14; 18 beat Plaquemine 35-34; 25 lost Catholic 35-17; Oct. 2 beat Hahnville 52-12; 9 beat Beau Chene 70-0; 16 beat Carencro 28-13; 23 lost Teurlings 42-28; 30 Opelousas; Nov. 6 Northside. PLAYOFFS: NOV. 11 Bye Week; 20 beat E.D White 49-7; 27 Teurlings
Sept. 4 beat Calvary Baptist 45-28; 12 beat SHAW 37-23; 18 lost NOTRE DAME 28-23; BREAUX BRIDGE 14-7; Oct. 2 lost Catholic-BR 28-14; 9 beat Northside 34-12; 16 beat BEAU CHENE 56-0; 23 beat STM 42-28; 30 lost CARENCRO 33-21; Nov. 5 Opelousasl PLAYOFFS; beat St. Michael 49-14; 20 beat De La Salle 36-14; 27 ST. THOMAS MORE