Gazzolo: Something truly special happened on that field Friday night

By By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

Call it the miracle on McNeese Street.

Down 20 points with fewer than three minutes to play, all hope appeared lost for Barbe Friday night.

Another season of high expectations was about to be lost to those villains from West Monroe, who seven times since 1996 had

ended the Bucs’ state playoff run.

Then, a tinkle of desperation turned into a river of hope and finally a flood of humanity.

The Bucs are going to the Superdome.

Don’t ask them how for even they are not sure what happened, but all they know is they are going to play for the Class 5A

state championship next week.

Many of those who left the stadium early may not believe it either, but it’s true. I’m not sure even those who stayed to witness

the facts believe.

“I’m speechless,” said quarterback Keenon Fontenot, tears of joy flowing down his face. “I can’t tell you how we did it, I

just knew we could do it. I really don’t know what to say.

“I guess I’ll see you in New Orleans.”

The Bucs rallied for three scores in the final 2:11 as they beat West Monroe, 49-48.

In order for that to happen, the Bucs had to recover a pair of onside kicks just to have the chance.

“The man up stairs came through for us tonight,” said tight end DeSean Smith, who grabbed two of those three TDs down the


“We never give up. We just wanted a chance.”

Barbe proved it is good to be lucky, but it’s even better to be good when luck shines your way.

Yes, the Bucs needed a few bounces to

go their way in the final minutes to finally dispose of West Monroe, which for most of

the night was unstoppable. The only way Barbe ever really slowed

down the Rebels rushing attack was by keeping the ball away

from them over the final four minutes.

But Barbe had enough talent to make the most of those chances.

And when Fontenot hit his favorite target, Trey Quinn from 2 yards out with 13 seconds remaining, Barbe had exorcised its

own personal playoff demon.

“It is great to finally beat those guys,” said Smith. “This is the best feeling in the world. I can’t get over how great this


After the winning touchdown Barbe recovered a fumble on the ensuing kick return. Seconds later, as Fontenot took a final knee,

fans poured out of the stands to help the Bucs celebrate what they are calling the biggest win in school history.

“It doesn’t get any bigger than knocking off West Monroe,” said Fontenot.

Well next week might, but that’s for another story. This is about something much different.

“I don’t know what I was thinking with three minutes left and down by three touchdowns,” said Barbe head coach Mike Cutrera.

“You don’t want to give up hope but really, it was looking pretty bleak.”

However, Barbe proved it is darkest before the dawn. Just when everything seemed over, the stars aligned perfectly for the

Bucs and suddenly something special happened.

“Everything just started clicking for us,” said Smith. “We don’t ever quit, that is the good thing about this team. We are

never going to quit. We have put too much into this to quit.”

Yes, but even Smith felt more than a little overwhelmed by a Rebels team that had run over the Bucs’ young defense at will

and seemed to have Barbe’s championship hopes laying on the turf in ruins.

“It just takes one play to get us going,” said Fontenot, who made more than one.

While spending most of his night scrambling for his life to avoid a powerful West Monroe pass rush, Fontenot resembled Harry

Houdini, somehow finding ways out of trouble. By night’s end he would have lifted an entire school on his shoulders.

Fontenot finished an eye-popping 24 of 35 for 423 yards and six touchdown passes. Barbe would need each and every one of them,


“You just keep throwing until the final whistle,” Fontenot said.

And with that final throw he is leading Barbe to New Orleans.

“We are going to the Dome,” Fontenot said. “It doesn’t matter how.”

Nope, it sure doesn’t and that is a good thing because it is hard to explain just how the Bucs are in the title game.

“All we want to do is find a way to win the football game,” Cutrera said. “That’s really all we were trying to do at the end.”

And somehow, someway the Bucs did just that.

Along the way they also proved that miracles do happen, or maybe that they are just a team of destiny.

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Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at