VILLE PLATTE -- As they say in french, “Soyons prêts à gronder.” Let’s get ready to rumble.
Once again, it’s that time of the year. Time to see the greatest show on grass. It’s time for the Tee-Cotton Bowl.
This season will mark the 15th version of the ultimate classic high school football game. A game that has received national and international recognition. A game that has been blessed by the Pope. A game that brings a town together.
So, when the Sacred Heart Trojans and the Ville Platte High School Bulldogs lace up the cleats and get after it tomorrow night at Soileau-Landry Field, more than just bragging rights will be on the line.
No matter who comes away with the win in this contest, sportsmanship, pushing your opponent to give their best and representing the entire town with dignity and respect are the responsibility of both teams. When those qualities present themselves, nobody loses.
“This game means a lot, not only in terms of bringing home the trophy, but in the manner that it is played,” stated Ville Platte head coach Jorie Randle. “As a player and a coach, you have to respect what this game means to the people of Ville Platte. It is a big responsibility.”
“We represent our schools and the town of Ville Platte on a large stage,” said Sacred Heart head coach Josh Harper. “How we play this game and how we show our respect for our opponent is seen by more than just those that attend. We know what is on the line in this game.”
The Tee-Cotton Bowl has been a game of streaks, with Sacred Heart winning the first seven contests. Ville Platte High turned the tide in 2007, winning for the first time and carrying that win streak on for six consecutive games.
Last season, after a four year hiatus, the Trojans took down the Bulldogs 40-19 to take an 8-6 advantage in wins.
If the Bulldogs expect to stop Sacred Heart from building another win streak, Ville Platte will have to get more done on the offensive side of the ball, especially in the running game, than what they showed in last week’s jamboree.
In that contest against Mamou, the Bulldogs were only able to pick up 122 yards of total offense, with 87 of those yards coming through the air. Also, Ville Platte turned the ball over twice to the Demons.
“No doubt, we have to have more production out of our players,” commented Randle. “Turning the ball over like we did, especially in the red zone, will not give us any chance of winning. Nevertheless, I thought our passing game was decent. With us being under center this year, we are going to have to get acclimated to taking a direct snap. Right now we are trying to plug in younger guys and hopefully find some players to help us not have to go both ways.”
Defensively, the Bulldogs played as well as can be expected against Mamou, considering they have to replace a number of starters from last season. Ville Platte held the Demons to 86 yards of total offense.
“I thought our inside guys played well on defense,” stated Randle. “I was not happy with the tackling, and we need to clean up our techniques. But, overall I thought our defense played tough.”
On the flip side, the Sacred Heart Trojans looked good against Pine Prairie, but did not fare as well against Basile. The Trojans seemed out of sync in their first contest with the Bearcats, collecting only 64 total yards and committing two critical penalties. However, Sacred Heart turned it up a notch against the Panthers scoring once and eating up 76 yards of offense in only two possessions.
“For some reason, we were flat our first game,” said Harper. “But, as the jamboree wore on we seemed to pick up the pace. I thought we really got after it against Pine Prairie in the second game. One positive was that we were able to rep seven guys on the offensive line and four running backs. That will definitely give us more depth at those positions. We still need to work on our reads and meshes on offense. And, our center/quarterback exchange needs to improve. Overall, I thought we put out a great effort.”
On the defensive side of the ball, the experience of the Trojan defense shined through against Pine Prairie, holding one of the toughest running back around the area, JJ Sims, to only 11 yards.
“I loved the fact that we flew to the ball on defense,”commented Harper. “We were very aggressive and the effort was there. We just need to work on lining up in the right places. But, that is something we will definitely get better at.”
Both coaches knew playing an emotional game the very first week of the season will be something their players will have to contend with.
“We are going to have to check our emotions at the gate,” said Randle. “Their will be a lot of highs and lows throughout the game, and it is up to us to conserve our energy because we will be in a dog fight the entire game. They are a hard-working, well coached team.”
Harper concurred with Randle.
“It is about riding that first wave of emotion,” stated Harper. “Then once we have done that, we can settle into the flow of the game. Ville Platte looks a lot more physical than last season. We are going to have to be ready to line up and play, because they will bring everything they have to this game. I expect nothing less from Coach Randle and his team.”