Sacred Heart quarterback/running back Gabe Fontenot (4) finds open space against Bunkie while teammate Peyton Feucht tries to spring him with a block. Fontenot and the rest of the offense will look to establish their running game against Mamou tonight when they take on the Demons at Soileau/Landry field. (Gazette photo by Tracey Jagneaux)
Something to prove
Both the Sacred Heart Trojans and the Mamou Demons will be out to prove something when they tangle tonight in an inter-parish battle set for Soileau-Landry field in Ville Platte. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
After a dominating 28-0 win in week one over the Basile Bearcats, Sacred Heart did not get the chance to see if that type of win is going to be typical this season. The opportunity to prove themselves a solid team, capable of making a run in the playoffs, flew by with the winds of Hurricane Delta last week, as their game with the Rosepine Eagles was cancelled.
According to Trojan head coach Josh Harper, playing the Eagles would have been an important tool in which to evaluate his squad.
“Basile made a ton of mistakes against us in week one,” stated Harper. “So, it makes you think if the win was due to the fact that we played tremendous football or if we were just able to take advantage of their miscues. Playing against a solid team like Rosepine could have allowed us to find out exactly what type of team we have this season.”
One area that Harper hopes to improve upon, regardless of how much his team needs to prove, is the running game. Against the Bearcats, Sacred Heart rushed for only 80 yards, a number that did not sit well with the coaching staff as a whole.
“We cannot be a team that relies on the passing game to open up our run game,” said Harper. “We need to do the opposite. We have to make our running game so solid, that it allows us to transition into our passing game. There are games coming up, like next week when we play Catholic of Pointe Coupee, where we cannot afford to not run the football. Controlling the ball, controlling the clock and keeping the ball out of the hands of our opponents is what we want to accomplish.”
The Trojans definitely have the talent to keep the ball on the ground. In their game with Basile, Sacred Heart found a couple of other players that will be able to take the load of starting running back Alex McElwee.
In that contest two weeks ago, both Gabe Fontenot and Blake Hebert got solid carries that helped the Trojans move the chains. Fontenot carried the ball 11 times for 41 yards and Hebert rushed 11 times for 37 yards against the Bearcats.
“Alex is definitely the person we want to lean on in the run game,” commented Harper. “However, with a lot of players going both ways, including Alex, we need fresh legs to give us depth and I think we have that now.”
On the opposite side of the coin, the Mamou Demons are out to prove the three-week layoff they have had will not affect their play come tomorrow night. The Demons were not able to play their scrimmage or their first game of the season because of COVID-19 related issues. On top of that, last week’s game with Port Barre fell through because of Hurricane Delta.
According to Mamou head coach Dwight Collins, getting ready for Sacred Heart is going to be a tough mission.
“Right now, we are just excited to get the opportunity to strap it up in a real game situation,” stated Collins. “It is tough to evaluate your team when you have not had the chance to play. I mean, we have a concept on who should play where, but until you see your players perform, you cannot make the adjustments that you would normally make from week to week. In a since, we are coming into this game partially blind.”
The typical scenario leading up to the day of the game is for both teams to exchange game film from previous games played. However, because Mamou has not played a game, the film exchange could not occur.
Instead the two head coaches have been on the phone with each other, giving brief descriptions of what each plans on doing schematically on both offense and defense. The two coaching staffs also have game film from last year’s contest in which Sacred Heart escaped with a 14-12 win.
“I can tell you this, Coach Collins and his staff has done a tremendous job of turning the program in the right direction,” commented Harper. “Last year, we had a hell of a time against them. They played hard from the opening whistle to the final seconds. I have no doubt that they will be ready again this year, especially since this is the first game they will have played this season.”
“Sacred Heart is a tough opponent to face for you first game of the season,” said Collins. “They are very talented and come at you all game long. I know they have gone to more of a spread offense, but I also know that they want to dominate you in the running game. We are going to have to get ready for a battle every play.”