Griffins upset No. 1 Gators in wild district clash

Kyle Riviere
Dutchtown's Zayne Zezulka scored one of the Griffins' goals in their 4-2 win over St. Amant. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

Heading into last Friday night’s game, Dutchtown had played three of the best teams in the state in Jesuit, St. Paul’s and Catholic.

Against all three squads, they just couldn’t get over the hump. They tied both St. Paul’s and Jesuit. Against Catholic, they took a 3-0 lead, just for the Bears to storm back and finish the game with four unanswered goals.

On Friday night at home, they were once again facing one of the state’s best. This time it was parish and district foe St. Amant, who came in as the No. 1 team in the latest unofficial power rankings. But this time, the Griffins finished the job.

Dutchtown’s offense attacked early and often. They took a 1-0 lead, and after they did, they never trailed for the rest of the game. When it was all said and done, the Griffins pulled off a 4-2 upset victory.

“It’s Friday night, it’s home field and there was a big crowd,” Dutchtown head coach Marcus Dyer said. “I wanted them to be in the moment, and that’s what they did. At certain times this season, we’ve had problems mentally. Tonight, this team showed what they’re capable of against the No. 1 seed. They rose to the occasion when they needed to.

“Now, the job for myself and Coach Moss is to make sure this keeps happening. We know we have the skill.”

It was a wild, action-packed first half.

Dutchtown set the tone as they constantly attacked the St. Amant goal. Gator goalkeeper Seth Hillegass was forced to make saves on two shots by Ayden Rawashdeh.

But shortly afterward, one ball got through.

Nicholas Graham had a free kick from nearly 50 yards away. His shot went over the heads of the St. Amant defenders, and then took a funny bounce off of the ground in front of Hillegass. He was unable to stop it from going into the back of the net.

However, the Gators wasted no time typing the game. At the 27th minute, Tyler Bridgewater was able to speed past Dutchtown defenders and finish at the net.

But just two minutes later, the Griffins took back the lead when Michael Greer scored. Unfortunately, Greer was injured on the play and was unable to return to the game.

St. Amant had a great chance to tie the contest right before the half. Bridgewater once again got ahead of everyone, but his kick from inside the box was just wide left.

Dutchtown held a 2-1 lead at halftime.

At the 58th minute, they were able to extend that lead thanks to Zayne Zezulka. He took the ball and sprinted downfield 50 yards until he got inside the box. He then finished for a goal that gave the Griffins a 3-1 advantage.

But once again, Bridgewater kept St. Amant in it. His goal at the 66th minute cut the deficit to 3-2.

But at the 75th minute, the game was put to rest.

Zezulka drove toward the St. Amant net and made a beautiful cross to Derick Montoya in front of the goal. In a desperate attempt to keep Montoya away, Josh Barbera made contact with the ball and inadvertently knocked it through the goal to give Dutchtown a 4-2 lead.

That was enough for the Griffins to pull off the victory to improve to a perfect 4-0 in district play.

For the game, Dutchtown was able to bombard Hillegass with 19 shots, despite not having Greer for much of the contest.

“Losing our captain early was a tough blow. For the other players to rise up mentally and physically challenge this great St. Amant squad shows the character of this team. It was a great night,” Dyer said.

The loss snapped an 11-game win streak for the Gators. It was their first district defeat of the season.

The Griffins are now in the driver’s seat for winning the district crown.

“In previous games, we struggled with maintaining an aggressive posture throughout the game,” Dyer said. “You can’t sit back. You have to take advantage of every chance. That’s what we’ve been focusing on the last few weeks, and this is the result. I’m so happy for the seniors. This is a big rivalry in the parish.”