The Grind: Many outduels Kinder in defensive battle
NATCHITOCHES — There was no last minute magic for Kinder this time.
After three straight narrow playoff wins, the No. 6 Yellow Jackets came up just short against No. 1 Many, losing 16-13 in the Class 2A state championship game Sunday.
Many (12-0) ran off 16 straight points in the second and fourth quarters as Kinder (9-3) struggled offensively.
The biggest play of the game came from the Tiger defense. Tylen Singleton intercepted a Kinder pass and returned it 23 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to give Many a 16-7 lead.
Kinder scored on a 6-yard Griffin Cooley run with a little more than two minutes left, but the ensuing onside kick came up short. Many gained two first downs to end the game.
“If we got that onside kick we were going to go down and score,” Kinder head coach Bret Fuselier said. “That is how we were thinking. The kids fought to the end, even when they had every reason to fold up the tent.”
The Kinder defense was excellent, holding Many to 164 yards of offense a week after they scored 83 points in the semifinal round.
“We knew this defense was special and they showed it today,” Fuselier said. “The story of the game was that they were out there too much. We couldn’t get anything going offensively. Many had a good defense too. We only ran 11 plays on offense in the first quarter and that was a telltale sign.”
Collin South led the defense with 15 tackles. Gavin Johnson had 11 and Trenton Bono added 10.
Kinder started the game in style, holding Many on the first possession of the game. Kinder tailback Tylan Ceasar took an option pitch down the right sideline, dodged a pair of defenders at the 5-yard line and reached the end zone for a 59-yard touchdown run on the first Kinder play from scrimmage.
The 7-0 lead held through the rest of the first quarter, but Many dominated the second quarter. Every Tiger snap in the quarter came in Kinder territory. The Tigers turned the field position into a pair of scores to take a 9-7 halftime lead.
On the first Tiger drive of the half, quarterback Zequarius Rhone ran for 20 yards on a fourth down play to the three yard line, then scored on a quarterback sneak to pull the Tigers within 7-6.
On their next drive, Many reached the Kinder 26, but Yellow Jacket lineman South stuffed Rhone on another keeper.
Many took the lead with 55 seconds left in the half on a 32-yard field goal by Trotter Lafollette.
Kinder gained only 11 yards in the half after Ceasar’s touchdown run, going three-and-out on each of their other three drives.
The Jackets put together a good drive late, with Graham Fawcett completing long passes to Austin Nolen and Darius Captain to set up Cooley’s touchdown run.
Fawcett finished with 90 yards passing. Ceasar was named Kinder’s Most Outstanding Player after rushing for 77 yards.
Singleton was named Many’s MVP.
Rick Hickman / American Press