Dutchtown moves forward to undefeated Barbe in regionals

Peter Silas Pasqua
Dutchtown’s Randy Thackery levels Hahnville’s Blaise Dempster on a pass breakup in the Griffins’ bi-district playoff victory a week ago. Thackery and the Griffins travel to Lake Charles to face Barbe in the?Class 5A regionals Friday night.

GEISMAR - Before the start of the season, Dutchtown head coach Benny Saia recalled the sting of a 32-21, Class 5A quarterfinal playoff loss to Westgate last year and the Griffins’ desire to advance further. For Dutchtown to reach last year’s peak, they must go through undefeated Barbe.

“I don’t know about their history but this team is pretty darn good,” Saia said. “They have some great players and have had a great year. They haven’t given up a lot of points and have a lot of expressiveness on offense. It will be a tough match.”

No. 13 seed Dutchtown (8-2) travels to No. 4 seed Barbe (10-0) Friday night at Buc Stadium in Lake Charles for a Class 5A regional playoff date.

The Buccaneers won the District 2-5A championship outright with a 42-12 victory over Westgate in Week 10 and annihilated district rival and No. 29 seed Comeaux (4-6), 41-17, in bi-district play last week. Dutchtown, the runner-up in District 6-5A dominated another district rival, No. 20 seed Hahnville (6-4), 35-7, a week ago.

“We are the only team that can beat them this week,” Saia said. “It is hard to figure it out because they haven’t played anybody that plays power football. I don’t know how they are going to hold up against that and I don’t know how we are going to hold up against their defense. We feel like we have seen some athletes this year in the district that we are in. I don’t know how their athletes measure up. That is part of the playoffs. You are playing someone you don’t know a whole lot about or the teams that they played against. I don’t think you can make comparisons. It doesn’t work that way. You just have to figure it out as it goes.”

Barbe is led by quarterback Eric Cutrera, who passed for 1,784 yards during the regular season completing 115 of 187 passes to go with 18 touchdowns. Against perennial state championship contender Acadiana, Cutrera threw for 347 yards completing 20 or 31 passes for two touchdowns in a 24-20 victory in Week 7.

“He gets rid of the ball so quick that nobody gets pressure on him,” Saia said. “We just have to try and cover them and try and make him make some bad decisions. They are a good football team.”

Barbe’s top offensive weapon is Ernest Celestie, who lines up in the backfield, slot and wideout and is a dangerous return specialist. 

“He can go,” Saia said. “They put him in a bunch of spots. A lot of places. He is explosive.”

Dutchtown will have to rely on a pass rush created by defensive lineman Richard Buckland, Grant Medine and Kendryck Johnson and solid pass coverage from the secondary of Eric Reid, Marcus Godfrey and Jonathan Darville. The play of the linebacking corps of Randy Thackery, Brandon Lucas and Jordan Groff will also be key.

Dutchtown rushed for 350 yards last week against Hahnville only attempting two passes. Kelvin York led the charge with 194 yards on 15 carries and scored three times to up his season totals to 1,087 yards on 149 attempts with 11 touchdowns. Eddie Lacy added 87 yards on 22 carries last week scoring once and now has 890 yards on the season on 129 attempts with 15 touchdowns.

Saia said the key will be if the offensive line of Robert Chandler, Shawn Cook, Thomas Harvey, John Lambert, Cody Crysel and Colby Little  can control the line of scrimmage to allow the running backs to get to the next level.

“That is what we are counting on,” Saia said. “We do what we do. If we have to throw it we are going to be in a bind.”

The Griffins are also hoping to integrate speed back Effrem Reed more into the mix this week after he was limited to eight yards on two carries last week.

“It is somebody else they got to watch out for,” Saia said. “He just couldn’t go last week. Hopefully, he is a little better this week.”

Barbe is led on defense by LSU commitment Janzen Jackson.

“They have the kid that committed to LSU but they have two others just as good as him,” Saia said. “They have a lot of players on defense. There is more than one kid.”

The winner will advance to face the victor of No. 5 seed Thibodaux and No. 8 seed Ouachita in the Class 5A quarterfinals.

“I believe in what we do and who we have doing it and I am sure it is the same with them so we will kick it off and see who does it the best,” Saia said. “It is a good matchup.”