“Coach Cook, this is the LHSAA, calling to confirm you are the No. 2 seed in Class 3A and you will play Patterson Friday.”
“Uh, Patterson? Are you sure we get them at #2? Thanks!”
“Yes, congratulations, and a win puts you against the winner of one of your toughest district opponents, Westlake, or on the road at defending state champion St. Charles.”
“Is this a prank call?”
“Well, coach, you know what they say, you have to play those teams at some point to get to the Dome, so why not early. Look at the bright spot, if the seeding holds and you win through, the farthest you might have to go in the semifinals is to undefeated Eunice.”
“So, if everything works out by seeding, as you say, we get Eunice in the semis and Parkview in the Dome? Is that meant to draw another thank you?”
Back to reality.
As expected, Parkview drew the top seed with the Pios, Eunice and Loranger rounding out the top four. Cook says the luck of the draw is a product of the system.
“It’s better than what we had, but it lends to situations such as this. It’s a regional thing with some districts having fewer teams or a better mix of teams. So, you get some of the teams that are a little weaker than others who are able to schedule games they can win. Then you end up with average teams that have higher power rankings in the bracket. Patterson is in a district where they didn’t have the type games to get their power ranking up.”
“The other side of that is our district where three teams we beat end up beating each other and finish 3-2 with 7 or 8 wins and we get four teams in the playoffs. But Jennings, Westlake and Iowa are all good teams and they are separated at 13, 15 and 26 in the bracket.”
After the longest road trip of the season for the game that never really got close to being a game, Notre Dame got no favors in the 3A playoff bracket. Patterson has been a playoff spoiler against Cook’s teams.
“The last time we saw them, Patterson was much more mature or older with just one freshman in the lineup. But that was Kenny Hilliard and he was a 15-year old man. Those young players have ten games of experience now and you can see the progression. They have outstanding athletes and they play the game fast. They run the spread and like to throw so we will have to step it up on defense.”
The Lumberjacks have won three of the last four meetings between the teams including a 28-21 second round upset of a then 11-0 Notre Dame team in 2007. Patterson also was the spoiler in 2002 with a 46-20 win in the semifinals after the Pios had won eleven straight following a season opening 27-7 loss to St. Thomas More.
Notre Dame last beat the ’Jacks in ’03, a 42-7 regular season win. Patterson turned the tables with a 42-29 win against the ’04 State runner-up team to start the current win streak.
Coach Lewis Cook has now taken his team to the post season each of his 16 seasons at Notre Dame and the Pios have a school streak of 19-straight. For Cook, the real challenge may be keeping his team in check.
“Last week I kind of saw they were anticipating this week. They were reminded to just take care of things at South Beauregard and then we would get ready for what lies beyond. It’s do or die from here on out, so I know they will have that same excitement.”
Fullback Austin Thibodeaux returned to action against South Beau and mercifully for just a couple of plays. Thib scored standing up on a two yard run and later from the eight, ran over a tackler at the line and powered over two more at the goal line to get into the end zone again. Thib said afterwards everything felt good and he was fine!
Senior DB J.P. Hensgens suffered a concussion last week and is sidelined. Senior wide receiver Brandon Leger will be back in the starting lineup after suffering a mild concussion in the Crowley game and sitting out last week. Junior DB Caleb Lambousy is available, probably for limited action after being out several weeks and sophomore OL Reese Besse is probable.
Stats are great to look at but the bigger goal requires sacrifice. Luke Broussard had his string of seven straight games with a hundred yards rushing snapped Friday night when he got 98 yards in the first quarter and sat the rest of the game with the other starters. Brousse has still run for 1,114 yards and 11 touchdowns in nine games.
To Dan and Jenny Didier for their hard work in charting the game stats and providing a lot of the “tid bits” you get to see here. Also, to Albert John, who handles the game video we sometimes need to go to for it all to be accurate. We’re not done with you guys, yet!
GAME BALL AWARDS
Big Play of the Game – Luke Broussard punt return - Everyone has been waiting for a punt return TD and Broussard got the closest of the year with a 63 yard run back to the South Beauregard one yard line. The return came three minutes into the game on the first punt of the night and effectively ended the game before it could even get started.
Gavin Bourgeois – Two weeks in a row for the junior defensive back. Bourgeois had two interceptions, the second an athletic thing of beauty. On a deep pass down the middle, the ball in the air for forty yards, Bourgeois undercut the receiver, leaping to tip the pass forward, hauling it in at the Pios 25 and returning 18 yards.
John Michael Besse – His 24 yard run for the Pios third score was something else! As one sideline viewer was heard to say, “Those two defensive kids are fortunate to not have knee injuries after those moves and the way they were left trying to change directions.” Besse sliced past one defender at the line and at the Knights 15, left another heading in the opposite direction with a cut to pay dirt.
Dustin Reiners – Six first quarter kickoffs into the end zone for no returns, a seventh kickoff hung to the one and only brought out to the 20 with help from the special teams, six extra points, five of them in the first quarter and three punts downed at the Knights 17, 24 and 15.
Noah Touchet – Junior RB had a big night with 17 carries for 75 yards and a 2-yard TD run.
Mathew Hanks – Sophomore special teams leader stepped in to record 8 tackles, one for a loss and a quarterback hit in three quarters of relief at middle linebacker.
Patterson battled its way into a 12th straight playoff appearance with four District 9-3A wins to finish the regular season 7-3. It was a week six 28-27 loss to Kaplan that put the Lumberjacks in a win or go home mentality.
Patterson then closed out the year with wins over Abbeville (56-28), Jeanerette (72-0), Franklin (14-0) and Erath (35-7). While the ‘Jacks do not have a win over a team above .500 on the year, Head Coach Tommy Minton likes the progress of his young team.
“It was an experience factor more than anything. We started the season with nine sophomores and three freshmen in the starting lineup. They should have been playing on Wednesday in JV games, but we graduated 21 seniors last year, six of those signed college scholarships. We had to get some games under our belts and get them up to speed.”
Quarterback Denzel Johnson leads the Patterson Spread offense. The senior first year starter has thrown for over two thousand yards with 25 touchdowns with 8 interceptions.
“He has been the backup and started at linebacker the last two years for us because he was just too good an athlete to not have on the field. It’s not like he was just thrown in there. He has played quarterback since junior high so we knew what to expect from him”
The top target is sophomore receiver Daylon Charlot with 47 catches and 11 touchdowns. On the other side, Mykel Jones has caught 32 passes for 470 yards.
At runningback, Shelby Lavergne and Larry Turner split reps. Turner scored on runs of 16 and one yard in the win over Franklin.
“We had a junior starter that broke his ankle and those two guys have done a good job for us in taking over. They both start on defense, so we try to rotate them to give them a break.”
“I think we’re better than a 31 seed. We lost some games early that if we played now I think we would win, but that is the nature of the beast. I can tell you we’ll show up and play football against a very formidable opponent and we expect a physical game from Notre Dame.”