ASH to play in first state championship football game in school history

LaMar Gafford
Alexandria Town Talk

Not too many teams can say they beat West Monroe at its own game.

Alexandria Senior High added its name to that list Friday night after defeating the Rebels, 33-17, at J.L. “Butch” Stoker Stadium in the Class 5A semifinals. The Trojans advanced to the state championship game for the first time in program history.

ASH will play defending state champion Acadiana at 6 p.m. on Dec. 30 at Turpin Stadium in Natchitoches.

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“I’m really proud of our kids and proud of our coaches,” Trojans coach Thomas Bachman said. “I know I sound like a broken record, because I keep saying the same thing, but these moments are sometimes hard to hold on to and hard to get to when you come up short. I’m really proud, we knew this moment would come. We just stay after it and continue to work, eventually we were going to start catching the breaks and making the plays.”

Slow starts plagued ASH the last two times it faced its District 2-5A rival, but the Trojans were in control most of the game  and only trailed for two minutes.

Alexandria Senior High quarterback Judd Barton looks for running room against West Monroe in the Class 5A semifinals Friday, Dec. 18, 2020 at J.L. "Butch" Stoker Memorial Stadium. The Trojans advance to the Class 5A State Championship game against Acadiana High School set for 6 p.m. Dec. 30 in Natchitoches. ASH will be seeking their first state championship title in football.

Judd Barton accounted for 196 yards and three touchdowns to lead ASH (7-1) and gave the Trojans (6-2) their first lead  on a 70-yard run in the second quarter.

“Going into this week, (ASH assistant) coach Ben (McLaughlin) told me that we were going to use my legs because it would help us and be an extra weapon we could use,” Barton said. “I trust my guys to make their blocks and I’m going to read their blocks. The result was a 70-yard run.”

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West Monroe (7-2) stayed in the game thanks to Derome Williams rushing for 165 yards with a touchdown, but the Trojans forced three turnovers and a safety.

Alexandria Senior High coach Thomas Bachman (standing) talks to his team after defeating West Monroe 33-17 in the Class 5A semifinals Friday, Dec. 18, 2020 at J.L. "Butch" Stoker Memorial Stadium. The Trojans advance to the Class 5A State Championship game against Acadiana High School set for 6 p.m. Dec. 30 in Natchitoches. ASH will be seeking their first state championship title in football.

“Throughout the whole week, we came out with focus,” Trojans linebacker Jermaine McNeal said. “We weren’t really physical throughout the week, but we knew when it really got to Friday night, it had to be really physical. They were labeled as the kings, so we came and took the crown off them.”

The last two turnovers set up passing touchdowns by Barton to T.J. Johnson and Tray Culbert in the fourth to give the Trojans the lead for good after the Rebels tied it up at 17-17 late in third.

More:ASH's Culbert making up for lost time as Trojans' new receiving threat

“That’s just working in practice,” Johnson said. “Those big moments, we work on in practice, routinely. If it wasn’t for all the prep that we do, we probably wouldn’t be in this situation that we’re in right now.”

The turnovers were just too much for the Rebels to overcome, especially against ASH.

“We just can’t do that on our end, especially in the semifinals against a team like ASH or any semifinal team," said West Monroe offensive coordinator Glenn Hunt. "We just put our defense in a bind after they’ve given us the football. It just wasn’t our night tonight.”