Win and the Gents have a fighting chance to earn a postseason berth.
Lose and Week 10’s game against Westlake is simply for pride.
“Right now, it’s do-or-die for us,” said Crowley coach Josh Fontenot, whose team is 2-6 on the season after a 39-14 setback against Jennings last week.
“If we want to play in the postseason, we’ve got to win the next two (games) and it all starts Thursday night (tonight) in Rayne.”
The Gents currently sit at No. 38 in the LHSAA’s unofficial power ratings and they are in desperate need of a victory. However, the odds are stacked against them as they take on the No. 1-ranked team in the power ratings - Notre Dame.
Fontenot, however, doesn’t see the matchup coming down to the Gents vs. the Pios; rather, he sees it as the Gents vs. the Gents.
“It’s not an easy task, but, once again, the opponent is not important,” said Fontenot, whose squad has squandered opportunity after opportunity all season long. “The main opponent right now is ourselves; if we take care of us, we will have a chance to win; if we go in there and shoot ourselves in the foot, the result will be no different than any other week.
“When we take care of ourselves, we do fine so that’s the goal this week.”
Reaching that goal will prove to be a difficult one against the Pios, who are averaging 25.2 points per outing.
The Pios are a ground-and-pound type offense that is led by running back Luke Broussard. The senior has racked up 891 yards and 10 touchdowns on 130 carries. He also has seven receptions for 52 yards.
“Luke is as good a tailback as we’ve seen,” said Fontenot of Broussard, who has gained 403 yards and scored six touchdowns on 79 carries in the Pios’ last three games. “You look at him and he’s short, but he’s a well put-together kid and he runs the ball very, very hard.
“When there are yards to be had, he gets every single one of them. And when there are no yards to be had, he still gets three and four because he runs so hard.”
The challenge, said Fontenot, is not letting Broussard get going.
“They run their stretch play so well and he’s fast enough to get outside,” said the CHS coach. “Once he gets out there, you have a very powerful runner and that could be a problem.”
Broussard, however, isn’t the Pios’ lone offensive threat.
Sophomore quarterback Brad Stoma has been quite efficient in the passing game, completing 40 of 79 pass attempts for 716 yards and four touchdowns.
And the targets at Stoma’s disposal are plentiful. He has completed passes to 10 different receivers/running backs. Nick Benoit leads the receiving corps with seven catches for 195 yards while Brandon Leger (10-159) and Marcus Garrett (7-125, 2 TD) follow close behind.
“Their quarterback does a really good job,” said Fontenot. “They don’t ask him to win the game for them, they just ask him to take advantage of some opportunities for them when they’re there.
“And the receivers that they have are very good. They don’t miss the ball, whether they are open or not.
“You know, you talk about stopping their run and that’s a must. But you can’t let them beat you over the top with their play action stuff. You can’t give them those big plays that they kind of feed off to score.”
For the Gents, the big play has contributed to the little success that they have had.
Unfortunately, those plays weren’t there when they needed them the most last week against Jennings .
The Gents reached the red zone eight times in the loss and only managed to score twice.
It is a trend that has plagued the Gents in all six of their losses.
“That has been our theme all year long,” said Fontenot. “It’s going to be a matter of finishing a drive. If we can finish one and get a little confidence, I think we’ll be okay.
“But like anything else, if we get there and don’t score, we have to put that behind us and keep going.
“For us, offensively, we need to run the ball. We’ve got to be effective with that and we can’t miss opportunities in the passing game. If we get a shot and we get behind them, we have to convert on it because we’re not going to have many opportunities to do that.”
Those opportunities have been few and far in between for Notre Dame’s opponents, especially in district play. The Pios have given up some early scores, but they have pitched shutouts in the second half of their last three games.
“On defense, they seem to get a feel for how you want to attack them and then they settle in,” said Fontenot of Notre Dame’s defense. “They seem to always be able to do that. They are always in the right position.
“What makes it hard to score and move the ball consistently is their run defense, which is very, very good. In order to move the ball consistently, you have to be able to run the ball a little bit.
“They’ll let you throw it and they’ll give you some easy throws, but they’re not going to give up anything over the top.
“Just like we’re going to try and make them earn everything they get, we’re going to have to earn every yard we get.”
Overall, it will take Crowley’s best effort of the season and Fontenot would expect nothing less.
“There’s no doubt that we will have to play our best game to have a chance,” said Fontenot. “But we’d be at the point with any opponent. We have to play our best because that’s the only thing that has won us a game. When we play less than our best, we’ve lost.
“If we play our best game against Notre Dame, we have a shot. If we don’t, then we’ll lose. There’s no gray area or in between there. If we miss a few opportunities, it’s going to be tough.”