Defense wins championships: Points hard to come by vs. Kinder

Warren Arceneaux

Stellar defense has been a staple of Kinder High football under head coach Bret Fuselier, who doubles as defensive coordinator. That’s no different this season as the Yellow Jackets prepare for their fourth state championship game in eight years, all under Fuselier.

Kinder (9-2) will play Many (12-0) for the Class 2A title at 1 p.m. Sunday at Turpin Stadium in Natchitoches.

The Jackets enter on an eight-game winning streak. During the streak, only Avoyelles (22) in the regional round of the playoffs has scored more than 14 points against Kinder. Over the past two weeks, Kinder has allowed a combined 27 points in road wins over Loreauville and Mangham. The Loreauville game went into double overtime, but Kinder allowed only 14 points.

Linebackers coach Jeremy Manuel said the unit has gelled and improved over the course of the season.

“I have enjoyed seeing the kids come together, seeing them grow from the first couple days of practice until the end has been special,” Manuel said. “Up front we’ve been playing really well with the defensive line and linebackers.

“This last game (a 19-13 win over Mangham), the secondary was excellent. They had the receivers covered up really well and made plays on the ball. The kids are pretty loose but they know when it is time to play ball. They focus in and get locked in. They have one goal on their mind.”

To reach that goal, the Jackets will have to slow a Many offense that scored 83 points, including 76 in the first three quarters, in a semifinal win over General Trass last week.

Manuel said the Tigers show many impressive qualities.

“The physicality, the run game,” he noted. “They have multiple people that can beat you and they have been here before. They know how to win.”

Defensive backs coach Tyler Chachere said his unit does not mind mixing it up against the run.

“We are physical, we tackle well and are aggressive,” he said. “A lot of times secondaries just want to cover guys, but we like to tackle.”

Chachere said the team has put in the work required to reach the big stage.

“It has been rough with the hurricanes coming right through here and everything else,” he said. “We had practices when there was no power in town, when kids had to leave here to go back and help at home or go help a neighbor. They worked hard, everybody came together. Everyone wants to be there on the last day and here we are. We’re 60 minutes away from achieving our goal.”Kinder is 9-2 and playing in its fourth state championship game in eight years. The Yellow Jackets are allowing 11.2 points per game. They have recorded two shutouts, including one in the opening round of the playoffs.

Rick Hickman / American Press