Road to the Dome: LHSAA Division IV State Championship Game Recap
by Jace LeJeune
What a great weekend it was for Louisiana high school football fans! Over three days, 18 of the state’s best teams battled it out for the title of being state champions. These teams worked all spring, summer, and fall for a chance for this moment. In the end, nine teams came out as state champions. It was a long journey to the Dome and it was one full of exciting moments as well as ups and downs, but these state championship teams finished the long winding journey on top. Now, the teams come home with a state championship trophy. No matter if these players go on to play collegiate football or if they end their careers at the high school level, these players will not forget what it meant for their team to hold up a state championship trophy. For the teams that lost this weekend, there is nothing to hang their heads about. They got to a point in which a lot of other teams would have dreamed about reaching. Over the course of the week, we will recap each and every game that went down over the weekend. There is still a lot going on in the football world as bowl games will be fixing to start, the NFL regular season is about to come to an end, and there is still a lot of All-Star games that will be going on at the high school level, but we will have to wait until next season to see Friday night football once again. As we wrap up the 2017 Louisiana High School Football season, we will give our analysis of all that went on during the weekend. Today, we will talk about the second game of the LHSAA Prep Classic which was the Division IV State championship game between Lafayette Christian and Ascension Catholic..
Division IV State Championship Game Matchup: #4 Lafayette Christian Academy Knights (13-1) vs. #6 Ascension Catholic Bulldogs (11-3)
Final Score: 10-0 Lafayette Christian Academy
Game Recap: The Division IV state championship game featured a program that was making its first state championship appearance in over 25 years while the other program was making its first state championship appearance in the program’s history. For the Ascension Catholic Bulldogs, this is the team’s fifth state championship appearance, but the first appearance since 1992 when the Bulldogs did win the state championship. Meanwhile, the Lafayette Christian athletic program is on the rise after winning a state championship in basketball and then attempting to win a state championship in football. Things got really difficult a day before the game even started for the Ascension Catholic Bulldogs as the offense had to lose a key player in their championship run in Jamar Barber, who ran for over 1,600 yards and over 20 touchdowns entering the game, was involved in a car accident along with his brother Dorian Barber. The injuries suffered in the car accident forced both brothers not to play. This would play an integral part in how the game played out for the Bulldogs. Even though the Bulldogs lost one of their star running backs in Barber, they still had their other workhorse running back Jai Williams. Early on in the game, the Bulldogs relied heavily on Williams who ended the game with 87 yards on 15 carries. However, things began to change when Ascension Catholic QB John Mire threw an interception. On the return, Williams brought down the Lafayette Christian defender, but during the process when he was taking him down, Williams suffered a concussion thus knocking him out of the football game. The Knight defense was able to take advantage of the Bulldogs losing their two top rushers by consistently making plays on the defensive side of the football. Even though the Lafayette Christian defense was shutting out the Ascension Catholic offense, the Ascension Catholic defense was able to do the same to the Lafayette Christian offense. At one point in the first half, both teams did have a long sustaining drive, but both drives resulted in turnovers. In fact, the first score of the entire game occurred late in the third quarter after the Knights had a long 14 play drive, which resulted in a 43 yard field goal by Collin LaHaye. The Bulldogs were still in the football game incredibly not only losing their starting running backs, but also losing their starting wide receiver Mason Zeringue, who had to move from his normal wide receiver position to running back. Now, the Bulldogs had to put their quarterback John Mire in at running back and their other quarterback Bubba Gauteau in at quarterback. The Knights knew that the team was going to be one dimensional and as a result, Gautreau threw two interceptions including the game sealing interception return for a touchdown by Calib Watts. That pick six for Lafayette Christian would be the only touchdown scored in the game. The Knights were able to shut down an Ascension Catholic offense that was averaging way over 40 points a game entering the game. The Lafayette Christian Academy Knights won a defensive struggle against the Ascension Catholic Bulldogs 10-0. The Lafayette Christian Academy Knights had to adjust to injury problems late in the season when their star quarterback Zachary Clement went down with an injury. However, the Knights had time to adjust to their lineup while the Bulldogs had their injuries the day before and during the biggest game of the season. Still, the Knights did take advantage of all the Ascension Catholic injuries like good teams do and they deserved to win the state championship. It was a great coaching job by Lafayette Christian Head Coach Trev Faulk as the team had its ups and downs, but the team still prevailed in the end clinching the program’s first football state championship victory. For the Ascension Catholic Bulldogs, led by Drey Trosclair, the team fell short of a state championship victory, but the team should be right back in the thick of the championship race next season as the offense will return both running backs.
Play of the Game: Obviously, the play of the game occurred in the fourth quarter when the game gets interesting. Even with all of the offensive struggles and injuries the Bulldogs had to go through, the game was still a 3-0 game. However, without their two running backs, the Bulldogs had to become one dimensional and that is throw the ball to get back in the game. When a team’s bread and butter is running the football, it is pretty hard to throw the football to get back into the game. The Lafayette Christian ball hawking secondary forced five turnovers, but there was one interception that stood out to mind with just about four minutes left to play in the game. Gautreau threw a pass that sailed over one of the Bulldogs receivers and landed in the arms of Watts who not only intercepted the pass, but brought the interception back for the only touchdown scored in the game to pretty much ice the game away making it a 10-0 game.
Lafayette Christian Player of the Game: The media awarded Lafayette Christian kicker Collin LaHaye as the most valuable player. LaHaye played a integral part in the Knights’ state championship run over the last two games. He hit a game winning field goal to send LCA to the Superdome the previous week and scored what looked to be the game winning score with a 43 yard field goal before the interception return to really ice the game. However, if a whole unit deserved to have the MVP award, it would be the entire defensive unit for Lafayette Christian. Ascension Catholic may have had their injury problems, but regardless, they held a team that was averaging way over 40 points to 0 points. The defense also gave up less than 100 yards of total offense and forced five turnovers including the game winning interception. When the Knights’ offense was struggling, the defense was there to pick up the slack.
Ascension Catholic Player of the Game: Even though Jai Williams only played a half of football, he would have to be the MVP for Ascension Catholic. Williams ran for 87 yards on 15 carries and was the main player on the offensive side of the football that was picking up big runs and first downs for the offense. If it was not for the concussion suffered in the second quarter, who knows how the game would have went, but it was pretty clear that they were missing their star running back in the second half.
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