Many clears hurdles to get back to Classic

Warren Arceneaux

After a somewhat surprising run to the Class 2A state championship game with a young team last season, this year’s Many team has lived up to high expectations to earn a return trip to the title game.

After losing to Ferriday last season, Many (12-0) will see a familiar face this time when it faces Kinder (9-2) in the title game for the third time since 2013. The Yellow Jackets won the title game 35-20 in 2013, with the Tigers winning the 2014 title game 22-15.

The rubber match will be played at 1 p.m. Sunday at Turpin Stadium in Natchitoches.

Many head coach Jess Curtis said the road back to the title game was bumpy.

“It’s been a crazy year with the pandemic and all that,” Curtis said. “You’ve had to jump the hurdles and navigate all that, make sure your team is ready.

“I’ve been proud of this team because they have been able to keep their eye on the prize, go to work every day and get better. Last year we probably got to the championship a year early. Now we’re trying to piggyback off that, play four more quarters and hopefully finish the deal.”

Many’s first two playoff opponents forfeited games due to Covid-19.

“It is another thing you had to deal with,” Curtis said. “We couldn’t control it. There is no substitute for game experience. While we were able to get healthy, we missed on that game action. They didn’t do us any favors with us having to go to Amite, who I thought was one of the four or five best teams in 2A this year. It was a tough environment and a tough ballgame (a 34-30 Many win), but the guys found a way to come out with a win.”

Many cruised in the semifinal round, beating General Trass 83-36. The Tigers offense is led by a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Terence Williams and London Williams. Dual-threat quarterback Zequarrius Rhone signed to play at Louisiana-Monroe.

“We’ve just done what we do here at Many, just get the game plan and go execute,” Curtis said of his offense. “We’ve done a good job making blocks, the running backs have moved the chains.

“We’ve been able to make the big-time throws, that is a big difference from our teams of the past couple of years. We have a senior quarterback and a senior-laden offensive line and can make throws when we need to. Rhone is a great leader, a 4.0 student, an ambassador for the school.”

Defensively, the Tigers are young but speedy.

“We have a lot of young kids that play fast and bring the physicality,” Curtis said. “I’ve seen them get better from week to week. We have a really good sophomore class and they have played well. It has been good to see.”

Curtis said Kinder head coach Bret Fuselier is a good friend and that he sees many similarities in the two programs.

“I think our programs mirror each other in many ways,” Curtis said. “That is what makes this game so special, both teams are very good, proven and with great history. That makes for a great game.”Welsh defensive end Keegan Labouve tackles Many quarterback Zacquarrious Rhone in a Class 2A semifinal game in 2018. Rhone’s arm has added a new dimension to Many’s run-heavy offense, which boasts a pair of 1,000-yard rushers . The duel-threat quarterback has signed to play at Louisiana-Monroe .

Rodrick Anderson/American Press

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