When Barbe takes the football field at Bucs Stadium on Friday night, the Bucs will be staring across at an opponent they have become all too familiar with over the past 41 years.
Year in and year out since 1972, and twice in the playoffs, school buses have crossed the Interstate 210 bridge on their 12-mile trek to the stadium that will play host to one of the biggest, if not the biggest rivalry in Southwest Louisiana: Sulphur vs. Barbe.
Every year the teams cast their records aside, no matter how good or bad, and duke it out as if it’s the last game they will ever play.
“Every year is different, and you always have to throw the records out the window for this game,” said Barbe head coach Mike Cutrera. “It’s going to be a very good game. Both of these teams always play hard and it is a hard-fought contest that usually comes down to the wire.”
Sulphur (3-5, 2-3) will be bringing some new blood to the rivalry this year when first-year head coach Jeff Wainwright attempts to make his first bite into the rivalry as sweet as his first victory at Sulphur, which, in his own words, was “like red velvet cake.”
“This game obviously means a lot to both schools; they both really want to win,” Wainwright said. “We are putting the same amount of effort in preparation as any other week, but on Friday night both of these teams are going to play beyond the whistle for their schools and communities, and that is one of the things that makes rivalry games great.”
On the opposite sideline will be Cutrera, who looks to make it a perfect 4-0 against the Tors in his tenure as Barbe head coach.
Barbe (6-2, 3-2) has all of the momentum entering the game. The Bucs have amassed a 25-17 record in the series, reeling off victories in each of the past five years. The Bucs are ranked No. 8 in Class 5A and are looking to make their way back to the state championship game.
Although the Tors haven’t beaten the Bucs since 2008, it hasn’t been for a lack of trying. Just last year the Tors were leading the eventual state runner-up 22-14 at halftime before succumbing to the explosive Barbe offense.
“The kids know how big this game is,” Cutrera said. “They know that they are playing Sulphur who is up for the task, just like they know our kids will be. I am expecting a great Friday night football game and atmosphere.”
This year, the Bucs bring back that same high-tempo, pass-happy offense. Through eight weeks of the season, senior quarterback Kennon Fontenot ranks fourth among the state’s passers with 2,228 yards and 26 touchdowns. His favorite target, the state’s leading receiver and future LSU wide receiver Trey Quinn, has caught 64 of those passes for 1,130 yards and 13 touchdowns.
“Offensively we try to keep getting better each week and Friday we are going to come out and execute the same way we have all year,” Cutrera said.
Sulphur will rely on its senior playmakers to step up big to lead its defense. Defensive back Joel Peterson and linebacker Leo Baillon spearhead an athletic Tors stop unit.
“Our kids are well aware of everything Barbe brings to the table. They are really focused and know what they have to do come Friday night,” Wainwright said. “Trey Quinn is obviously their go-to guy, but without their quarterback and his ability to extend plays and make great throws they wouldn’t be as good as they are.
“We are going to try and do the same thing everyone else has done this year and limit his ability to make great plays, and to do that our defenders have to play through the whistle every down.”
Offensively the Tors will be looking to score points in bunches in order to keep pace with the Bucs, but it is a task that Wainwright said his ground-and-pound attack, led by running back Derrick Guillory, will be ready for.