Griffins, Gators hope to rebound after tough losses

Peter Silas Pasqua
At left, Dutchtown senior running back Eddie Lacy rushed for six touchdowns last week to go with 228 yards on 30 carries in the Griffins’ 49-48 loss to Hahnville.

GEISMAR - While both Dutchtown and St. Amant of District 6-5A are coming off losses, the teams’ body of work on the field this season are at different ends of the spectrum.

No.  9 Dutchtown (6-1, 2-1) lost its first game of the season last week, a 49-48 double-overtime setback to Hahnville, while St. Amant (0-7, 0-3) fell to arch rival East Ascension 13-7 to remain winless.

“I don’t think it is any question that it would be a huge boost to find a way to go blow for blow with Dutchtown and come out with a victory,” St. Amant head coach David Oliver said. “I think that would be huge for us, our program and our future.”

St. Amant’s playoff hopes were all but smashed in the loss to East Ascension, as the Gators find themselves in 51st in the unofficial Class 5A power rating of 56 teams. Dutchtown dropped from fifth to 13th with its first loss, and head coach Benny Saia said he doesn’t know how his team, which sits in a second-place tie with Hahnville and still has a chance for a district championship, will respond.

“Hopefully it makes us mad and we play hard,” Saia said. “I hope it motivates us. We want to win. We need to win.”

Hahnville took an early 35-7 lead on Dutchtown in the first half but the Griffins stormed back scoring 21 unanswered points in the second half to force overtime. Dutchtown had a chance to end the game in the first overtime after blocking a point-after attempt, only to have one blocked.

“We didn’t play well the first half,” Saia said. “We weren’t ready to play obviously. In the second half, they decided they wanted to play. If we play four quarters, I think we win the game.”

Senior running back Eddie Lacy had a career night scoring six touchdowns for Dutchtown on way to 228 yards on 30 carries. Fellow senior back Kelvin York added 56 yards on 14 carries as the Griffins piled up 324 yards on the ground.

“I was more pleased with Kelvin’s performance,” Saia said. “(Eddie) ran right behind Kelvin for every one of his yards. Eddie had a great night, but Kelvin helped him have that night.”

York has 766 yards on 114 carries to go with five touchdowns on the season while Lacy has piled up 666 yards on 85 carries for 11 touchdowns despite not playing in two games. Sophomore back Effrem Reed was the game’s leading rusher two weeks ago against East St. John, with 137 yards on eight carries.

“It is hard to contain their offense with those two big backs and solid offensive line,” Oliver said. “They are really a three-headed monster in that backfield and are tough to defend.

“We are going to have to get as many people around the ball as we possibly can and we are going to have to keep their down lineman off our linebackers and gang tackle. Hopefully, we can possess the ball a little more on offense and limit their touches that way. I think that is going to be a critical aspect. If we don’t turn it over and eat the clock up, that is one way to eliminate the number of touches that they can get.”

Dutchtown senior quarterback Wesley Perkins has completed 28 of 67 passes for 437 yards and five touchdowns slinging to a slew of pass catchers including Reed, Lacy, York, Lyndon Holmes, Cody Vicknair, Greg Provo and Colby Little.

“We are what we are,” Saia said. “We are not adverse to a big play if it happens but we are not going to change what we do.”

It is the big play that has haunted the Gators, which are giving up 36 points per game this season, including last week when a 60-yard touchdown reception was the difference. Senior linebackers Zach Whittington and Jake Roberts lead the charge, while juniors Justin Bumgardner and Marvin Martin anchor the line and seniors P.J. Brown, Wayne Douglas and Shannon Lucas man the secondary.

Sophomore quarterback Jaylin LeBlanc orchestrates St. Amant’s triple option which produced 241 yards of total offense last week. LeBlanc has passed for 545 yards this season completing 32 of 77 passes and has added 291 yards on the ground toting 91 times and scoring five touchdowns.

Senior fullback Adrian Bourgeois has led the Gators ground attack with 359 yards on 63 attempts, while junior Tre` Vaughn has added 330 yards on 54 carries.  St. Amant’s top receivers are Anthony Bonadona who has caught 11 passes for 214 yards and Chase Keller who has hauled in nine catches for 113 yards.

“Obviously you have to play assignment football,” Saia said. “Somebody has to be assigned to the quarterback, dive back and pitch back and everybody has to do their job. If they don’t, they make a big play.”

Dutchtown’s defense, which is giving up 16.8 points per game, has fell on hard times after shutting their opponent’s offense out twice earlier in the year. Despite a poor first half performance, the Griffins still limited Hahnville to 277 total yards last week. Senior lineman Richard Buckland and senior linebacker Randy Thackery led the charge that also features senior lineman Grant Medine and Kendryck Johnson, senior linebackers Justin Rivere and Jordan Groff and juniors Eric Reid and Marcus Godfrey in the secondary.

“Dutchtown has a strong defense,” Oliver said. “They don’t do a whole lot but they are just good at it and we are going to have to be consistent with our assignments and execution to move the ball. They are not going to give up the big play. They are going to force you into a sequence of plays to create a long drive and if you don’t make mistakes, have penalties, negative plays or turnovers, you are going to have a chance to move the ball on them but if you make those mistakes, then they eat you up.”

Dutchtown defeated St. Amant, 49-23, last season in only the third regular season meeting between the schools. The Griffins have won every game including a 41-14 victory in 2006 and a 31-25 win in 2005.

“I think that it is a budding rivalry,” Oliver said. “I know that since they opened the school seven years ago, there have been some good contests between the teams and we always look forward to playing both of the other teams in Ascension Parish. It is a big competition and our kids get up for it and they will be excited to play.”

St. Amant shut out Dutchtown in the Jambalaya Jamboree in 2003 (35-0) and 2004 (23-0) before Dutchtown won last year (20-14).

“Of course, it is a rivalry,” Saia said. “We have been here seven years. It is a rivalry with everybody that we play. The only thing that is not a rivalry is we are the only team that is winning right now.”