Block to face defending 1A champs Friday

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Jonesville — There is a buzz of excitement running through Catahoula Parish in Louisiana, and it has nothing to do with the upcoming holiday.

Instead, Jonesville residents are looking past Thanksgiving to 7 p.m. Friday, when the Block Bears will travel to Port Sulphur, La., for the LHSAA Class 1A quarterfinals.

“The whole parish, anywhere you go, everybody is talking about it. Everyone is wishing us good luck,” coach Benny Vault said. “Lots of people are preparing to make the trip down there this weekend to watch the game. That’s what the kids need. Seeing all that support makes them play harder.

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“Everybody is smiling and upbeat and happy. All they’re talking about is football.”

But Friday’s task won’t be easy. The Bears are taking on District 10 champion and defending state champion South Plaquemines.

The Hurricanes are 10-1 this season and 5-0 in District 10, and are on an eight-game winning streak.

All those wins are shutouts, and the Hurricanes have scored an average of 53 points during the streak.

“These are the champs, and to be the champion you have to beat the champion,” Vault said. “I’ve been watching film on them. I tell you, I had to watch the thing in slow motion just to get a regular game speed out of them. They’re fast.”

Vault said South Plaquemines’ strongest attribute, aside from speed, is the confidence the Hurricanes have from being in the running for the state title so often.

He said, in quickness, however, the Bears have them matched.

“What a lot of people forget is that we’re pretty fast on defense ourselves,” Vault said. “A 4.5(-meter sprint) down there is the same as a 4.5 up here, as far as I know.”

The Hurricanes’ only loss this year came to Cox High early in the season, and it was by just two points.

South Plaquemines returned eight starters from last year’s championship team on both sides of the ball, including star quarterback Ridge Turner, who set a state record with 5,444 yards total offense and 69 touchdowns in 2007.

Running back Lyle Fitte recorded 1,906 rushing and 1,612 receiving yards, with 43 combined touchdowns, and linebackers Seth Ancar and Trey Stewart were all-state selections last year.

“Defensively they just try to disrupt whatever you do. They line 10 or 11 people up to the line of scrimmage and they rush them right at you,” Vault said. “One thing you don’t want to try to do is run around them. We run a lot of traps inside. The thing is, once you get past that first level of their defense, they don’t have a safety back there in the deep field.”

Vault said he will stick to his game plan of passes and misdirection no matter what.

He said he noticed on film that South Plaquemines tended to make opposing coaches second-guess themselves and their ideas.

“I’ve watched the other coaches get stuffed there in the beginning, and they change it all up,” he said. “They break the other team’s spirit. If I get out of my double-wing and go to my five-wideout system, they’ve made me change my game plan. I’m not doing that.”

Vault said they should finally get some help from Hunter Key, the Bears’ leading rusher who has been out all of the playoffs with a calf contusion.

Key was kneed in the calf during a practice and busted some blood vessels, but Vault said “prayerfully,” he expects the running back to be ready to go Friday.

Defensively, the Bears will have to control Ancar and Fitte and partially mimic the Hurricanes.

“We’re going to try to play somewhat their style with our front seven and just let people go,” Vault said. “We’ll try to throw their rhythm off. We absolutely have to make tackles, and we’re going to be aggressive.”

Block said his team has felt like the underdog throughout the postseason, with predictions that the Bears would fall in both the second and third rounds.

Still, he and his staff are so confident about Friday night that they are already preparing their field for next weekend.

“Those guys have got to be 15, 16, 17, 18 years old, and that’s what my guys are,” he said. “I feel very good about the game. As long as the kids know that we expect to win, we’ll be alright.”