Kinder top 5 sports cover

Kinder High fell shy of a state football championship in 2014, but the Yellow Jackets were unfazed and put together a dominating performance the following season on its way to a 14-1 record and its second Class 2A state title in three seasons.

Led by Louisiana Sports Writers Association Class 2A Offensive MVP and quarterback Welles Cooley (1,011 passing yards, 1,115 rushing yards, 28 total TDs) and sophomore running back Taylor Johnson (1,917 yds., 28 TDs), Kinder averaged 42.4 points a game, scoring more than 40 points 10 times and winning by an average of 30.3 points a game.

Head coach Bret Fuselier led the Yellow Jackets to the state final for a third consecutive year and was named the American Press Southwest Louisiana Coach of the Year for the third time in as many seasons, going 42-3.

In the Superdome, Kinder relied on the strong legs of Johnson, who was named the game's offensive MVP. He ran for 133 yards in the first half and finished with 197 yards and three touchdowns on 31 carries.

The Yellow Jackets defense made big plays too as defensive lineman Robert Bruchhaus had two sacks and a forced fumble, and Thomas Roberts picked off a pass on Mangham's final possession to seal 35-20 win.

To get to the Superdome for a third consecutive season, the Yellow Jackets had to get past archrival Welsh in the semifinals.

Johnson, a first-team all-state running back, tied the score at 14-14 with 5:46 left on a 2-yard run. The defense forced a three-and-out and Cooley turned it into a 19-yard touchdown run and a 20-14 lead.

Kinder had to stop a Welsh drive inside in the red zone in the closing seconds to seal the win.

Kinder's season didn't start like a championship run. In Week 1, the Yellow Jacket lost 41-40 to a Class 3A Jennings team led by current Clemson star running back Travis Etienne. The Bulldogs made a defensive stop on a Kinder 2-point conversion with 45 seconds left.

But the loss awakened Kinder's defense that went on to hold opponents under 30 points a game the rest of the season, including 10 games under 14 points and a 14-game win streak. Leading the defensive unit was a trio of American Press All-Southwest Small Schools players in Bruchhaus (87 tackles), linebacker Jordan Cordova (131 tackles) and defensive back Jared Rider (10 INTs).

2 Welsh (2017): After a perfect regular season in 2016 ended in the second round of the playoffs, the Greyhounds finished the job in 2017, winning their first state championship.

Welsh lost its top rusher, Charlie Watkins, to a torn anterior cruciate ligament in a 28-18 win over Many in the semifinals, and H-back Pearse Migl suffered a concussion in the final, but the Greyhounds jumped to a 31-0 lead and beat St. Helena 38-26 in the state championship game.

LSWA Class 2A Offensive MVP Zach Hayes threw four touchdowns in the final, two each to Da'Ren Zeno and Alec Iguess, and ran for another.

Austyn Benoit, Iguess (LB, 170 tackles) and John Daigle (DL, 120 tackles) led a defense that allowed 16.21 points a game. Benoit, a defensive back, was key in the final with six tackles, a sack and two forced fumbles.

Welsh won by an average of more than 25 points a game with a balanced running and passing game. Its closest game was a 20-19 win over archrival Kinder in Week 8.

Head coach John Richardson was named the American Press Southwest Louisiana Coach of the Year.

3 Barbe (2012): Barbe reached the final for the first time since 1980, but its season will forever be remembered for what happened in the semifinals — The Miracle on McNeese Street.

The Bucs, who had lost their seven previous playoff games against powerhouse West Monroe, scored 21 points in the final 2:11 to beat the Rebels 49-48.

Bucs recovered two onside kicks and quarterback Kennon Fontenot, the LSWA Class 5A Offensive MVP, threw four touchdowns in the rally, including a 4-yarder to Trey Quinn with 13 seconds left.

Led by Fontenot, the Bucs averaged 40 points a game loaded with six all-state players in Quinn, who plays for the Washington Redskins, Desean Smith (LSU), offensive lineman Tanner Hooper, running back Courtney Galentine and kicker Jamie McGee.

Barbe lost to Archbishop Rummel 35-14 in the final.

Second-year head coach Mike Cutrera was named the American Press Southwest Louisiana and LSWA Class 5A Coach of the Year.

4 Jennings (2019): The Bulldogs opened the season with three consecutive losses, but rallied to make an improbable run to the Superdome and the Class 3A state championship game, the first for long-time head coach Rusty Phelps.

It was Jennings' first trip to the Superdome since 1992.

Phelps, who pushed his career win total to 198, was named the American Press Southwest Louisiana Coach of the Year.

Jennings pulled upset after upset in the playoffs, including a trio of one-point wins over No. 7 Church Point, No. 2 Sterlington and No. 6 McDonogh #35, before losing to No. 1 St. James 51-14 in the final.

In a rain-soaked semifinal, Jennings quarterback Lawrence Wilridge hit Trevor Etienne for a touchdown pass with fewer than 8 minutes to go and the Bulldogs held on to win 21-20.

Jennings was powered by a pair of underclassmen backs in Etienne (1,529 yds., 22 TDs) and Jalen Lewis (1,425 yds., 15 TDs).

5 Oberlin (2010): Lead by the greatest single-season rushing performance in state history, Oberlin almost went all the way in 2010.

Running back Cedric Skinner, who went on to play for Grambling State, ran for a state-record 3,437 yards and scored 47 touchdowns as the Tigers reached the semifinals for the first time since 1961.

Along with Ronkeith Alfred's 1,528 yards, the Tigers' double-wing was nearly unstoppable, piling up more than 6,000 yards led up front by all-state offensive lineman Devante Limbrick.

Skinner was the American Press All-Southwest Louisiana Small Schools MVP and LSWA Class 1A MVP while head coach Pat Miller was named the All-Southwest Louisiana Coach of the Year for a second consecutive year.

Despite having nine new starters, the Tigers boasted a strong defense that allowed 16.5 points a game, led by all-state defensive lineman Michael Ryder and freshman linebacker Lance Frank, who went on to earn All-Southwest Louisiana honors four times.

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