Denahm Springs stings Spartans

Peter Silas Pasqua
East Ascension’s Chase Thomas and Ryan Moll wrap up Denham Springs’ John Simon in the second quarter of the Yellow Jacket’s 20-0 shutout Thursday night.

DENHAM SPRINGS - Denham Springs’ defense held East Ascension to 149 total yards and kept the Spartans off the scoreboard in a 20-0 non-district victory Thursday night in what became both teams’ season opener at the Yellow Jacket Stadium.

“Our defense met the challenge,” East Ascension head coach John Lambert told his team after the game. “Our offense did a poor job tonight. We put the defense in a terrible position and 20 points is all they gave up. You are supposed to score 21. If we do our job on offense, we win this game because our defense played their hearts out.”

“Tonight, the offense just didn’t come to play and when we ask you what happened,  you say ‘I just didn’t get it done.’ That leads me to believe this doesn’t mean anything to you. Why would you put yourself through it if it is not important to you. I have been coaching high school football for 17 years and I have never had a team score zero points. Next week, if you are on offense, you better bring your work shoes because we are going to come off the football. If we don’t do anything else, we are going to hit you in the mouth. ”

Both teams season openers were canceled in the aftermath of Hurricane Gustav.

“Our defense played well after the time off,” Denham Springs head coach Dru Nettles said. “Their offense is maybe a little more intricate than ours. Ours is straight ahead pounding and maybe doesn’t take as much to get back into sync after the layoff. They did a better job in the second half but our defense got the momentum and the kids did a great job to finish that game. We like to be physical for four quarters and special teams and defense did an outstanding job giving us good field position.”

John Simon rushed for 97 yards on 20 carries to lead Denham Springs and Josh Lewis kicked two field goals including a 57-yarder.

“Playing on a three-day week, it was important for their offense to pound and that is what they did,” Lambert said. “It couldn’t have been a more perfect situation for them. We made a lot of mistakes.  We are a team that can’t afford to take a week off and we had to. When you put a goose egg up on the board, your offense is non-existent. We just didn’t execute. We don’t have the type of offense where you can just line up and knock people in the mouth.”

Denham Springs drove 38 yards to open the contest but Robert Gray dropped Simon for a yard loss on fourth down. Five plays later Tony Erwin intercepted Adam Trahan and returned it to the EA 34. Lewis connected on a 25-yard field goal with 4:54 left in the first quarter to cap the Yellow Jackets 9-play, 26-yard drive.

A play later, Aaron Dunn recovered Marcus Bailey’s fumble at the Spartan 18. Justin Lathers 6-yard touchdown run capped the ensuing 3-play drive and Lewis’ kick made it 10-0 with 3:27 left to play in the first quarter.

"We were able to capitalize early in the game and get the lead and continued to maintain that throughout the game," Nettles said. "I thought the kids did a great job in the third and fourth quarter after being off for so long."

Williams and Trahan picked up first downs on the next possession but the drive stalled. Jacob Kennedy sacked Trahan for an 8-yard loss to end the Spartans’ next possession and Lewis nailed the 57-yard field goal four plays later with 4:28 left in the half.

“Josh Lewis is a great weapon for us on special teams,” Nettles said. “We knew he was capable of that. He has got a great leg, a great attitude and is a great kid.”

Trahan’s 30-yard completion to Justin Pelle put the Spartans at midfield to open the second half but East Ascension failed to sustain. A holding penalty killed the Spartans’ next possession.

Denham Springs’ quarterback Kevin Long connected with Tyler Bourque from 7 yards to cap the ensuing 12-play, 69-yard drive. The series was fueled by Justin Hughes 13-yard draw and Long’s 25-yard pass to Lathers. Lewis kick made it 20-0 with 11:53 left to play.

East Ascension drove to the Yellow Jacket 24  on the next possession behind a 24-yard pass from Trahan to Bailey but threw incomplete on fourth down.

“We’ve got a good enough defense at this school to win games but our offense was a joke tonight,” Lambert said. “There are guys that make excuses when open passes are dropped. I am still trying to figure it out. We are going to make some changes on offense. We are going to see if some people wake up and if they don’t, turn it in and go home. My heart hurts, because I had seniors tonight that just packed it in and didn’t even try.”

Williams led the Spartans with 59 yards on 14 carries. Trahan completed 3 of 15 passes for 66 yards.

East Ascension hosts St. Charles Catholic Friday night at 7 p.m. at Spartan Stadium.

East Ascension’s Jake Conorely, Blake Hill, Tre` Griggs, Wade Julien and Chase Thomas converge on Denham Springs’ running back Aaron Webb in the fourth quarter Thursday night. Staff Photos by Peter Silas Pasqua