Oberlin seeks repeat championship, Tigers find success with new personnel, same recipe

Warren Arceneaux

Many of the faces have changed, but the results have remained the same for Oberlin, which can complete a second consecutive undefeated run through District 4-1A with a home win over Basile Friday night.

The Tigers (5-1, 4-0) have used the same recipe of a strong ground game and dominant defense as last season, when the Tigers reached the Class 1A semifinals. Four starters from that team returned this season, but the new Tigers took time to find their footing, rebounding from an opening-week loss to Oakdale with five consecutive wins. Oberlin has not allowed more than 20 points in a game during the win streak while the offense has produced 40 points per game.

“We’ve improved across the board, in each phase, since the start of the season,” Tigers head coach Durrell Peloquin said. “We lost 16 seniors from last year and only had a few starters back. We lost our quarterback, but Jack Chaisson has done an exceptional job. We lost a good kicker, but a freshman has stepped in and done a tremendous job.

“We had a little bit of experience on the lines. The guys who have stepped in to replace the seniors have continued to grow every week. We have a totally new team but they still have the same goals, aspirations and dreams as the 2019 team.”

Running backs Malachi Simien (609 yards, 10 TDs) and Aiden Reed (643 yards, 11 TDs) have each had at least 100 yards rushing in each of the last four games. In last week’s 50-13 win over Merryville, the Tigers ran the ball 35 times and attempted one pass.

Basile (2-2, 1-1) has had a bumpy season, sitting out three weeks in a season that already started late. The Bearcats have won their last two games, with a two-week break due to COVID-19 sandwiched between wins over Port Barre and Gueydan. Their lone district loss came on a last-second touchdown by Grand Lake in Week 4.

Peloquin said he expects a test from the Bearcats.

“We are going to have to control the ball and clock, convert on third down and make sure to play gap responsibility, good sound, fundamental defense,” he said.

The Bearcats have been showing more balance on offense with 52 pass attempts over their last three games, including 27 in last week’s 42-14 win over Gueydan. Quarterback Cole Manuel has thrown for 319 yards and three touchdowns over that span. Running backs Ethan Bazinet (142 yds., 3 TDs) and Horace Edwards (184 yds., 2 TDs) lead the ground game.Oberlin RB Aiden Reed has 100 yards or more in last four games