But it won’t be easy.
The Wolves, 42-8 winners over Church Point last Friday, meet No. 22 seed East Feliciana this week with a berth in the final eight (quarterfinals) at stake.
“We played really well (last week),” said Rayne coach Curt Ware on Wednesday. “They (Church Point) had already beaten us and they took Eunice into overtime the week before so it wasn’t like a typical high-seed vs. a low-seed where you could anticipate that score, because I sure didn’t.
“We just played extremely well. We took away what they like to do and we were able to run the football. When you rush for 350 yards, you have a chance.”
Duplicating that 350-yard rushing performance against East Feliciana may be difficult, considering the Tigers have one of the best linebacker/defensive ends in the country in the form of Kendell Beckwith.
The 6-foot-3, 230 pound multipurpose athlete, who also plays quarterback, is considered one of the top college prospects in the state and is the No. 5 prospect nationally at linebacker.
He has narrowed his list of potential colleges to two: LSU or Alabama. And he has already been selected to one postseason all-star game, the 2013 Armour All-American All-Star game.
“Beckwith gets all the hype because he is highly recruited and rightfully so because he is a great athlete,” said Ware.
But, Ware cautions, he is not the only threat the Wolves will face. And the Tigers, like perennial power Patterson, which drew a No. 31 seed, isn’t your ordinary, run-of-the mill, bottom of the bracket pushover.
“East Feliciana, I would say, athlete for athlete, is as good as anybody in any class,” said Ware. “They have some talent and I’m talking about all over the field.”
Although Beckwith is perceived to be a defensive force, he has provided much of the Tigers’ offense during the course of the season. Last week, he connected with Corey Hawkins on a 25-yard touchdown pass and rushed for three touchdowns in a 29-12 upset victory over Caldwell.
“He is a runner,” said Ware of Beckwith, who missed three games late in the season due to a shoulder injury. “He was at running back in the first half last week and it was 6-6. They moved him to quarterback in the second half and he ran the ball left, right, up the middle...
“Caldwell just couldn’t stop him. He’s a man. When you are as big and strong as that, you’re going to run through those arm tackles.
“He’s not a real fast guy, but he’s kind of nifty. He cuts well. He won’t run away from you but he will run over you.”
In addition to Beckwith, the Tigers also have Kameron McKnight, who has put up some big numbers at running back. Other threats are Danny Johnson and Trent Anio, who have been the main targets of Beckwith while he has been under center.
Hawkins, the Tigers’ starting quarterback, is also key to the offense. He has thrown for over 800 yards this season as well.
“They scored 39 against Parkview and Beckwith didn’t even play,” said Ware. “They can throw the ball well. They will hang it up there and they have some receivers that can go get it.”
McKnight, too, is a physical threat at 6-2, 215.
“When you look at him and Beckwith, you can’t tell the difference,” said Ware. “And he’s really fast.”
Not surprisingly, Beckwith and McKnight lead the charge on defense at the end positions. They have aided in limiting their opponents to just over 17 points per game.
“Defensively, they are a big challenge because they have 11 guys that can flat out run,” said Ware. “It’s going to be hard to break anything long.
“But one thing that gives us a chance is that they haven’t played a Wing T team all year. If they have someone on their staff that knows how to defend it, then we could be in some real trouble. If they don’t, I think we will be able to move the football.
“If you’re looking in the backfield against us, if we carry out our fakes and do a good job, sometimes you have trouble finding the ball.”
That Wing T offense gave Church Point fits last week as the Wolves pounded out 347 yards on the night, all on the ground.
Jalen Williams led the charge with 160 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries while Trent Duhon went for 94 yards on 18 carries.
“If you can put up 42 points and 350 yards against a good defense, you have to be doing something right,” said Ware, referring to last week’s victory over Church Point. “Jalen is right at 1,500 yards rushing and Trent is at 1,000. When you have 2,500 yards rushing in the backfield, that’s pretty good.”
Rayne’s defense also stepped up last week and had arguably their best outing of the year. The Wolves held the Bears to just 137 total yards and four first downs.
“Realistically, they (Church Point) had a 70-yard run late in the game against the jayvee,” said Ware. “So prior to that, you’re talking about 50 or 60 yards of total offense. I don’t care who you are playing, when you can do that, you’re playing real good defense.”
Billy Marcantel, who has played all season with a torn ACL, and Christian Hodges led the Wolves’ defense last week with nine and 7.5 tackles, respectively. Grant Menard and Tyler LeJeune each had an interception.
“We just played with a lot of emotion and we played smart,” said Ware. “Every week we’ve gotten progressively better.’