Bulldogs looking to win their first state title in 25 years
For decades, the Ascension Catholic community has been patiently waiting for the Bulldogs to make their return to the Superdome. Now, after 25 years, the wait is over.
This Thursday evening, Ascension Catholic will meet Lafayette Christian in the Division-IV state championship game. It will be the Bulldogs’ first trip to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome since 1992, and it will be their chance to bring home the school’s fourth state title.
What an amazing run it has been for the Bulldogs.
In 2015, Drey Trosclair took over as head coach with the retirement of Doug Moreau—who led the Bulldogs to the playoffs in all three seasons in Donaldsonville.
As far as wins and losses are concerned, the Bulldogs struggled in Trosclair’s first year. They finished just 4-6 and missed the playoffs, but it was all about rebuilding for the future.
“The 4-6 team two years ago, the seniors that year laid the foundation for this. They started it,” Trosclair said. “We didn’t have a successful year, as far as wins and losses, but we were able to set the foundation for our program, and it’s been an amazing ride and amazing journey.”
In 2016, Ascension Catholic improved to 6-4 and reached the state quarterfinals.
Much of the nucleus of that team returned in 2017, and it has translated into the school’s best season in more than two decades.
The Bulldogs went 8-2 during the regular season. Those two losses came to two-time defending Division-IV champion Southern Lab and a team in Kentwood that is the No. 3 seed in Class 1A and will be playing for the state title on Friday.
In the playoffs, Ascension Catholic rolled through with relative ease. They beat Houma Christian, St. Edmund’s and St. Mary’s by a combined margin of 119-28.
Much of the Bulldogs’ success hinges on their rushing attack. With their strong offensive line and the running back duo of Jamar Barber and Jai Williams, they’ve been able to put up big points all season. They average 39 per contest.
"The backs, I can't say enough about those guys, but our offensive line is playing great, too,” Trosclair said. “Our offensive line is a special bunch. Each running back has over 1,700 yards for the season. Each one has over 15 touchdowns."
In all three playoff games, both Barber and Williams have gone over 100 yards rushing.
A crisis was diverted late in the season due to the steady play of John Mire.
Mire was forced to step in at quarterback when starter Bubba Gautreau sustained a broken hand in week nine.
Ever since he took over, the Bulldogs are 4-0.
Though Gautreau is out for the year at quarterback, he has returned as the team’s starting middle linebacker. Coach Trosclair said that his return is huge for the Bulldogs.
"Bubba is our leader on the football team. He's anchoring our defense and getting these guys in the right spots. I can't say enough about him,” Trosclair said.
Gautreau and the Ascension Catholic defense may not get as much press as their explosive offense, but they have been tremendous since week one.
Dillion Davis and Charlie Gianelloni have been great on the defensive line. Williams, Gautreau and John Broussard have made up a productive linebacking corps, and Barber, Mason Zeringue and Eric Simon, Jr. have been ballhawks in the secondary.
Through 13 games, the Bulldogs are only surrendering 10 points per contest.
Ascension Catholic will now face one of their toughest challenges of the season as they play fourth-seeded Lafayette Christian for the Division-IV title.
Lafayette Christian went 9-1 during the regular season and upset top-seeded Vermillion Catholic in their semifinal game.
The Knights are averaging a whopping 40 points a game, while they only surrender 10.
The game should be a showcase of great running backs with Barber and Williams on one side and Lafayette Christian’s Logan Gabriel on the other. Gabriel rushed for 225 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles’ semifinal upset of Vermillion Catholic.
"We're going to have to prepare. We're going to have to have a great game plan,” Trosclair said. “I’ve been telling people all year that the sky's the limit for this team, so if we play our kind of football, I think that will ring true."
Ascension Catholic’s last state championship win came in 1992. The head coach was Bucky Mistretta. Mistretta also won the Bulldogs a state title in 1973.
The Bulldogs’ first state championship was won back in 1941.