Catholic serves as measuring stick for No. 6 Griffins

Peter Silas Pasqua
Dutchtown quarterback Wesley Perkins fights for extra yardage in the Griffins’ 9-0 Class 5A regional playoff victory over Catholic last November. Perkins and the Griffins host Catholic Friday night at Griffin Field.

GEISMAR - In their short period of playing each other, Dutchtown versus Catholic have turned into one of the biggest games in the area. The two will tangle Friday night at Griffin Field for only the fifth time, but for the first time in the meetings, the Griffins come in with a better record and as the presumed favorite.

Dutchtown head coach Benny Saia still sees the Bears as a measuring stick for teams in the Baton Rouge area.

“They have been the team that has had the most success over the longest period of time,” Saia said. “You like to play good people. It is always fun to play those teams that have been successful and have good programs and the kids look forward to it.”

No. 6 Dutchtown (3-0) of District 6-5A is coming off a 28-14 non-district homecoming victory over West Jefferson, while Catholic (1-2) of District 5-5A fell in overtime to Jesuit 30-27 last week.

“I don’t think they are as good as what they have been,” Saia said “They remind me of us. They are really young and inexperienced in some spots. They’ve got good players there. They are just inexperienced. They have gotten better every week and they have athletes. Last year, they were a senior laden ball club. They are not this year. They have sophomores and juniors playing but they are still very talented and they are still Catholic High."

Catholic won the first three meetings between the schools - 35-7 at Griffin Field in 2005, 39-3 at Olympia Stadium in 2006 and 23-13 at Olympia last year, but Dutchtown won probably the most important matchup, a 9-0 shutout in the Class 5A regionals last  season and Saia is sure the Bears will be reminded of it.

“I am sure they will be (motivated),” Saia said. “I am sure Coach (Dale) Weiner is using a lot of things but the big thing is they are 1-2 and I expect them to come in here trying to get their season back on track. They haven’t had a losing record in probably 20 years over there so they are going to come in trying to get back on the winning side of the ledger.”

Dutchtown has been led by running back Kelvin York, who has rushed for 448 yards on 58 carries with three touchdowns this season. Stablemate Eddie Lacy is coming off an injured knee suffered in a preseason scrimmage but has accounted for 143 yards on 19 carries in two games. Quarterback Wesley Perkins has completed 13 of 28 passes for 184 yards and three touchdowns and hybrid back Effrem Reed has caught five passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns while fullback Lyndon Holmes has four rushing touchdowns.

“You hope you control the clock,” Saia said. “If you have the ball, good things happen. We are going to try and be versatile and try to run the football, but we don’t want to let them put nine guys in the box on us either.”

Catholic is coming off a 10-2 record in Dale Weiner’s 22nd year at the school. The Bears return just five starters ,with two on offense and three on defense. Sophomore quarterback Zach Oliver has led the Bears’ offense this season throwing for 399 yards on 33-of-65 passing to go with four touchdowns. His primary receiver has been Chris Sciambra who has hauled in six receptions for 239 yards. Senior running back Marcus Thomas returns and has added 184 yards on 28 carries and one touchdown. Senior center Kramer Sherman is the only other returning starter.

“(Oliver) has got a big arm and he throws the ball really well,” Saia said. “They’ve got some nice receivers. We have to be sound on what we are doing and try not to help him any. You know whenever you are playing Catholic High, they will have a trick play or two. We have to guard against that. We just have to play good football and not make a ton of mistakes.”

Catholic fell 39-0 to St. Thomas More to open the season before scoring 43 unanswered points in the second half to defeat Carencro, 43-22.

Dutchtown opens district play next week against East Ascension in their final game of a four-game homestand.

“We want to win every game,” Saia said. “Each game is important within itself because of the points that you accumulate for playoff seedings. We want to win the district championship but if we don’t we can still go to the playoffs and win the state championship. The Destrehan game is no bigger than the Catholic game. They all count the same in the playoff picture, and that is what everybody plays for.”