The Basile High defensive unit makes a tackle on a Montgomery player in their regional playoff game this past Friday night. Basile took down the Tigers 66-40 to advance on in the Class 1A post-season. (Gazette photo by Sylis Manuel)
Fifth time the charm?
The Basile Bearcats are back in familiar territory once again.
For the fifth time in the last eight years, Basile (10-2) will travel the 145 miles east to Kentwood for a playoff showdown with the Kangaroos tomorrow night. The Bearcats have lost the previous four post-season meetings to Kentwood, the last being a quarterfinal round match-up in 2014. Game time is set for 7 p.m.
One thing is for sure, Basile will not be intimidated by the atmosphere and the gravity of this quarterfinal round game, as this senior class of Bearcats have been in the playoffs all four of their playing years.
Basile head coach Kevin Bertrand is counting on that experience to help carry his team through to the next round; a round the Bearcats have not been in since the 1990’s,
“This group of seniors have been through the fire and know they have a chance to do something that has not been done in a long time,” stated Bertrand. “Being in the playoffs the last three years has allowed them to have an understanding that every team left has a chance to win it all. They know they are going to have to step up their game to get the win.”
Stepping up their game will be a must for the Bearcats. Basile faces a Kentwood team that has made life difficult for a number of their opponents. The Kangaroos come into the game with an overall record of 9-2 and hold the No. 3 seed in Class 1A.
Kentwood’s only two losses on the year came in the last two weeks of the season. In week nine they fell to Ascension Catholic 12-7 and in week ten the Kangaroos were downed by Southern Lab 28-9 (both of those teams are in the Division IV semi-finals). They drew a first round bye in round one and defeated Merryville 34-6 in round two this past Friday.
Kentwood averages 28.9 points per game on offense and has scored 30 or more points in seven games this season. The Kangaroos are led by quarterback Terell Hoofkin who has thrown for 2,020 yards on the season. His prime target is Trey Palmer. The LSU commit has 28 receptions for 577 yards and six touchdowns. On the ground, Larry Carter leads the way with 682 yards on 118 carries.
“Offensively, they are a typical Kentwood team,” said Bertrand. “They are going to be big, fast and athletic. Their receivers do a great job of getting open and their quarterback gets it too them. Most throwing teams have one or maybe two good receivers, they have four. Even though they tend to throw the ball more than they run it, they are going to take what their opponent gives them. We will have to be ready to make some plays defensively.”
But, making plays is what the Basile defensive unit has done all year long. The Bearcats have only surrendered 165 total points this season (an average of 15 points per game). That total includes the 40 points given up in last week’s 66-40 win over Montgomery in the second round of the playoffs.
“Last week was one for the books,” commented Bertrand. “Montgomery jumped out on us early, but we were able to make some good adjustments in the second quarter and into the second half. We got a ton more pressure on their quarterback and made him feel uncomfortable. If you take away the first quarter, they only scored 18 points the rest of the way.”
Kentwood’s defensive unit on the other hand has played just as well as the Bearcats. The Kangaroos enter this week giving up a total of 130 points in 11 games (an average of 11.9 points per game). They have held opponents to two touchdowns or less in eight of those games.
“Defensively, they are fast and aggressive,” said Bertrand. “For us, running side-to-side may not be the best option because of their speed. We are going to have to try to attack them straight ahead and try to keep them off balance with the passing game.”
Despite a quiet first half of the season on offense, Basile has exploded in the last six contests. In that span, the Bearcats are averaging 48.3 points per game, including a 56 point effort in round one and a 60 point performance last week.
Senior running back Andre Reed has been a monster for Basile in their first two playoff games. Reed has rushed for 302 yards on 25 carries and has scored six touchdowns for the Bearcats. As a team Basile has collected 740 yards on the ground in the post-season.
“The key for us this week is to control the ball and keep it out of their hands,” stated Bertrand. “If we can do that and stop them from busting the big play on us, we can make it a tight game down the stretch. I really feel that if we are within striking distance or in the lead late in the game, we have a shot.”