That’s the approach Crowley High’s Gents are taking into the second half of the 2012 prep football season that begins tonight when they host Iowa in the District 4-3A opener for both teams.
Kickoff is slated for 7 o’clock at Gardiner Memorial Stadium.
“Putting the first five weeks behind us is all we can do now,” said Crowley High coach Josh Fontenot, whose team has lost four straight games and sits at 1-4 on the season. “The way our system is now, you need to win every game because of the power point system.
“We know what we’ve been through injury wise; we know what we’ve been through with changing a system on defense and we know the schedule that we’ve played. We’re very aware of all those things.
“What we’re also very aware of is that, now, we have no more excuses. This is it. This is our district, these are teams in our classification and teams that we are more equipped to play with, handle and beat.”
The Gents do own one victory over a Class 3A opponent. They defeated powerhouse Patterson in their season opener, but they have played four straight games against higher classified teams and come up short each time.
Tonight, the Gents step back into 3A action against Iowa , and although the Yellow Jackets are in the same classification, they do seem poised to provide yet another stiff challenge.
Iowa enters the contest with an unblemished record of 5-0 and the Yellow Jackets have put up some pretty gaudy stats in every phase of the game.
Starting on the offensive side, the Yellow Jackets have scored 246 points in their five victories and are averaging 49 points per game. They are also averaging an eye-popping 417 yards of total offense.
“Iowa is impressive,” said Fontenot. “I don’t care who you are playing, if you are scoring 49 points a game, you’re doing a lot of stuff right. They’re not turning the ball over; they’re extremely efficient and, at the same time, they are extremely explosive. You have to be explosive if you’re scoring 49 points a game.
“Iowa has a really good team. I’ve been here three years and to me, this is the best Iowa team that I have seen.”
Iowa’s offense is led by senior dual-threat quarterback Austin Theriot, who racked up over 1,000 yards both passing and rushing in 2011. This year, Theriot has rushed for 265 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries and has also completed 18 of his 34 pass attempts for 472 yards and six touchdowns.
“Their quarterback is very impressive because he runs the offense so well,” said Fontenot. “They don’t ask him to do a ton but an I-Pro quarterback doesn’t have to do a ton.
“He’s efficient and everything he does, he does well. He doesn’t get his team in bad situations by scrambling around or throwing bad balls. He does his job and he does it very well.”
“Other than the quarterback from Teurlings, as far as a quarterback to run a system and play within that system effectively, he’s probably the best that we’ve seen and that’s saying a lot.”
Athough Theriot has hit a number of receivers thus far, his main target through the air has been wideout DeQuain Mathews, who has 12 receptions for 275 yards and two touchdowns.
“DeQuain is a big, long rangy kid and he plays corner as well,” said Fontenot. “They are a play action, quick game-type team. They are going to throw to some open people and that guy seems to be open a lot.
“Like always, we have to get some pressure and make sure we don’t give up anything big. If we can get some pressure on him (Theriot) and keep everything in front of us, I think we’ll have a chance.”
Iowa is also very effective running the ball. Sophomore Chaz Key leds the Jackets with 453 yards and seven touchdowns on 40 carries.
Key is also the team’s leader on special teams. He has two punt returns (54 and 62 yards) for touchdowns as well as a pair of kickoff returns (80 and 90 yards) for scores. Mathews also had a 59-yard punt return and Darius Janice has a 46-yarder, both of which went for touchdowns.
“The are good at it,” said Fontenot of Iowa’s return game.. “They do a little cross thing that is tough to defend. They do things with special teams to score points and they are impressive.”
Defensively, the Jackets are equally impressive.
In five games, they have given up just 61 points for an average of 12.2. They are also giving up just 258 yards a game on defense and have racked up 20 takeaways (five interceptions and 15 fumble recoveries).
“They play a defense similar to ours (3-4) but they’re not a huge pressure team,” said Fontenot. “They do a good job of mixing it up and it makes it hard because you don’t know if they are coming or not. They’re pretty good with it.
“The scary part about it is we’re putting the ball on the ground. The last two games, we’ve given up three fumble recoveries for touchdowns. And we are playing a team that has recovered 15 fumbles so that’s a problem.
“We just have to put a body on a body and we have to protect the football.”
For Crowley , consistency on offense will be the make or break factor. Although the Gents are averaging just over 380 yards of total offense, the end zone has been elusive since the second week of the season.
“If you tell me that every year I can average 380 yards of offense a game, I’ll take that,” said Fontenot. “That’s good numbers. The problem we’re having is not finishing anything. We can’t finish games, we can’t finish drives and that carries over on defense sometimes where we can’t put people away on third down.
“Our defense has gotten better but on offense, it’s the same old story. We can’t seem to execute when it matters the most.
“It’s time to get our offense on track because we have a good offense and a bunch of good players on offense. We just have to execute when it’s time to execute.
Defensively, the Gents have given up 170 points for an average of 34 per game, but Fontenot is quick to point out that the unit has made tremendous strides and is improving every week.
And the fact that Jessie Harmon will be back at his linebacker position after missing the last two weeks due to injury should help that improvement process.
“Jessie will be back this week and that is big,” said Fontenot, who saw the return of linebacker Andrew LeJeune two weeks ago when Harmon went down. “This week will be the first time that Andrew and Jessie will be on the field at the same time since the scrimmage. Right now, we’re as healthy as we have been since the beginning of the year.
“We’re prepared. We’ve been prepared with a very tough schedule. We have no excuses. If we can’t come through and win this week, there’s nothing to fall back on other than the fact that we won’t get it done.
“I believe 100 percent that we will get it done.”