Bucs defense made the plays when they needed it most

By By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

They were pushed around and chasing a ball carrier most of the night on Friday.

It was not the finest three hours in the history of Barbe defense, but twice the young group made the play that mattered most.

It may seem hard to believe that in a game where the teams combined for 97 points and 1,049 yards that the tide would turn

on two defensive stands.

Hard to believe, but true.

The Bucs defense, battered and bruised while giving up 546 yards on the ground to West Monroe, made two huge plays that got

lost in a stunning comeback, which was fueled by an giant offensive display.

The 49-48 semifinal victory may have highlighted Barbe’s offense, but don’t count out those two plays on defense.

“I have faith in those guys making the plays when we need them,” said quarterback Kennon Fontenot. “West Monroe is a good

team and gained a lot of yards but we also came up with some big plays on defense.”

Well, two of them at least.

The first seems more like a footnote now.

After cutting into an early 14-0 Rebel

lead with their first touchdown of the game, Barbe’s defense was again

giving up huge

chunks of yards. It seemed a forgone conclusion that West Monroe

would score again to regain the two-touchdown advantage late

in the first quarter.

However, Barbe’s defense came up with its first big play, stripping Rebel tailback Segrick Williams and recovering the ball

inside their own 5-yard line. The offense responded and tied the game moments later.

“That was a big play,” said Barbe head coach Mike Cutrera. “That stopped their early momentum.”

The Bucs’ second big defensive play came with just under five minutes left in the game.

With West Monroe leading 48-28 and the time ticking away, the Rebels had the ball and with one first down could run out the

clock. It was desperation time for the Bucs defense.

Once again, the group that could not stop anybody found a way to again strip Williams and recover the ball. This time, it

was Nick Abshire who scooped up the bouncing ball and returned it 36 yards to the Rebel 29.

A pair of onside kick recoveries and a trio of Fontenot touchdown passes made most forget about those key defensive stops.

“They gave us a chance,” Fontenot said.

It has been like that all season, with the Barbe defense giving up an alarming amount of points and yards but finding a way

to make enough stops to keep their hopes of a state championship alive.

“Our defense, it does not look good at times, but they make stops and find a way to get some turnovers,” Cutrera said.

Now, all they have to do is find a way to do the same thing Saturday night in the Superdome against Class 5A’s top seed from

Rummel and the Bucs will have their first state title.

If that happens, all the yards and all the points allowed will be forgotten, and two key fumbles forced and then recovered

by a group that is often overlooked will become a part of a historic run.