Total recall Saints motivated to get past second round
Published 1:45 pm Friday, November 17, 2023
This time last year, St. Louis Catholic was in Baton Rouge locked in a defensive battle with Madison Prep in the Select Division II regional football playoffs.
The Saints lost that game 6-0, and the feelings of that loss are still fresh on their minds.
No. 6 St. Louis (8-2) hosts No. 11 McDonogh #35 (7-3) today at Matt Walker Memorial Stadium in Sulphur. The Saints look to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time since 2019.
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“I feel good,” St. Louis head coach Brock Matherne said. “It is a familiar feeling.
“Having the second round at home is a good atmosphere. Our community and students are excited, and the team is focused. They remember the feeling of the second round (last year).
“We talked about the consistency of our program, and that consistency is playing on Thanksgiving. They are itching to play on Thanksgiving.”
Matherne is familiar with the Roneagles, having grown up in the New Orleans area. While the Saints have faced several teams with speedy players all over the field, Matherne said things are different in New Orleans.
“I think a couple of teams remind me of that speed, starting with Lake Charles College Prep. Their receivers and the quarterback in (the) wildcat have a ton of speed. The Iowa quarterback is one of the best I have coached against. It prepared us. Jennings’ running backs have a lot of speed. I think our kids are used to it.
“Every area of the state plays different football, so that New Orleans area football is a different speed. I think our kids are not afraid of the speed. We have seen some fast guys, and we are prepared for this.”
The Roneagles have a dual-threat quarterback in senior Santana Price and a solid kick return game that helped set up short fields in last week’s 28-0 win over Lord Beaconsfield Landry.
“We have to win the special-teams battle,” he said. “We have an advantage there. We can’t give up the big play on defense. We have to contain the quarterback and keep the receivers in front of us. We don’t want to give up that big play. We want to pin them deep and not give them a short field where they can be explosive.”
The Saints hope to avoid late game-changing turnovers that caught up with them in losses to Vidor, Texas, and Iowa in the regular season.
“At the end of the day we can’t turn the ball over on offense,” Matherne said. “It has been a really good year for us. I think we have only had two fumbles and three interceptions.
“The couple of times we have turned the ball over we have lost. We turned the ball over late against Vidor and Iowa. It is something that we put an emphasis on in our program. I have confidence in our guys that they will hold onto the football.”
No. 8 Iowa (8-3) has a potential rematch with No. 1 North DeSoto on the horizon. But before they face the Griffins the Yellow Jackets have a home date with No. 9 Plaquemine (9-2) at Jesse E. Cady Stadium for a Nonselect Division II regional game. Iowa lost to North DeSoto in the semifinals last year.
Iowa and Plaquemine scored shutout wins in the bi-district round with Iowa beating No. 25 Grant 49-0, while Plaquemine took down No. 24 Albany 45-0. Plaquemine ran for more than 400 yards with four backs going over 100 yards.
In Nonselect Division IV, No. 8 Welsh (8-3) hosts No. 9 White Castle (7-3).
White Castle is led by Shadrack Allen, who scored on a run, a reception and a punt return in last week’s 52-0 win over Varnado.
Welsh running back Hayden VanNess ran for 165 yards and two touchdowns in the bi-district round and is over 1,000 yards for the season.
Four Southwest Louisiana teams will be on the road.
In Select Division III, No. 21 LCCP (4-6) will go for its second consecutive upset after dismantling No. 12 Pope John Paul II 34-7. The Trailblazers will travel to No. 5 Catholic-New Iberia (8-2).
In Nonselect Division II, No. 17 DeRidder (7-4) travels to play top-ranked North DeSoto (9-1), while No. 10 Jennings (8-3) heads to No. 26 St. Martinville to try to stop the Tigers from pulling another upset. St. Martinville (4-7) beat No. 7 Leesville 46-40 in the bi-district round.
No. 19 Lake Arthur (7- 4) heads north to defending Nonselect Division IV state champion No. 3 Oak Grove (8-2), while No. 10 Oakdale (8-3) travels to runner-up No. 7 Homer (8-3).