Sacred Heart defensive lineman Michael Monier (left) makes a tackle on a Westminster player this past Friday night. The Trojan defense will be called upon to slow down the St. Frederick offense that averages 25.5 points. (Gazette photo by Yvette Jagneaux)
The Sacred Heart Trojans begin their quest for playoff glory on the road tomorrow night, as they travel 150 miles north on Highway 165 to Monroe to battle the St. Fredrick Warriors in the first round of the LHSAA Division IV post- season. Game time is set for 7 p.m.
Sacred Heart comes into the game after a grueling 6-3 season; a season in which injuries inundated the Trojans.
Before Sacred Heart could even get a snap off, senior running back JT Harper was ruled out for the entire year with torn ligaments. Throughout the 2018 campaign, the Trojans were constantly looking for younger players to take up the slack of veterans that went down due to various ailments.
In fact, Sacred Heart has not played with the same combination of offensive lineman for the entire year.
Despite those obstacles, Trojan head coach Josh Harper feels his team is prepared for what lies ahead as his team enters the playoffs for the third year in a row.
“Mentally, we should be ready to compete come Friday night,” stated Harper. “Our team has been through a lot this season. We have had to overcome losses of players as the year has played itself out. We have a veteran team that has been through the battles. We are tested. As a senior laden club that has faced the playoffs before, I believe we will show up to play.”
Sacred Heart will have another tough test to face tomorrow night when they encounter St. Frederick. The Warriors come into the game with an overall record of 8-2 and have beaten four teams that made the playoffs this year, including
Ouachita Christian, Cedar Creek and Delta Charter. Their only two losses came to Loyola Prep, a Division II playoff team, and Oak Grove, the No. 1 seed in Class 1A.
St. Frederick is a zone read team on offense that averages 25.5 points per game. The Warriors have scored 30 or more points on five different occasions. They are led by quarterback Andrew Williams, who has 1,103 yards rushing and 1,155 yards passing.
“They (St. Frederick) do not run a lot of formations,” said Harper. “But, they can run their zone read stuff many different ways. They don’t throw the ball a ton. They want to utilize their RPO (run-pass option) to be able get you to commit to the run, so they can pass the ball. Size wise, they remind me of us. The biggest thing is that they make very little mistakes. They just don’t beat themselves.”
Defensively, St. Frederick gives up 19.4 points per game. However, the Warriors have held opponents to two touchdowns or less five times this season; the latest in a 12-8 win over Delhi in week 10.
Sacred Heart will counter with an offense that has come alive in the past four weeks, ever since they shifted back to the single wing. Over the final four games of the season, the Trojans are averaging 39 points per game, 17.2 points better than their entire season average.
Leading the way for Sacred Heart is Wesley Launey. The senior quarterback/running back has rushed for 711 yards and nine touchdowns, while passing for 534 yards and eight touchdowns. Following right behind Launey is Alec Gotro, who has added 348 yards and five touchdowns on the ground.
Drew Bordelon leads the team in receiving, hauling in four catches for 150 yards and four touchdowns.
But, if the Trojans hope to have any chance against the Warriors, they are going to have to rely on a defensive unit that has performed outstanding all year long. Sacred Heart has only given up 119 total points this year, an average of 11.9 per game. The Trojans have also held eight of their opponents to one touchdowns or less.
Seniors Garrett Fontenot and Nick Perry are two of the leaders of that Sacred Heart defense. Fontenot has 62 tackles, while Perry has gathered 53 tackles on the year. Sophomore Michael Monier has 59 tackles from his nose tackle position.
“Being on the road will be something we will have to overcome Friday night,” commented Harper. “I believe it will come down to which team makes the least mistakes. We cannot turn the ball over or have drives killed by penalties. If we can find a way to get this win, we would have some major confidence heading into the next game.”