Ferriday Trojans still in game

Published 12:01 am Thursday, November 29, 2018

FERRIDAY — In his second year as head football coach at Ferriday High School, Stanley Smith has done something that is not all that common – take his team to the state semifinals two years in a row.

Smith and the Trojans are looking for a better outcome than they dealt with last year as they will travel to Amite, La. to take on the Amite High School Warriors in the semifinals of the LHSAA Class 2A State Playoffs.

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There is one thing these two teams do have in common – they were both knocked in the Class 2A Playoffs by St. Helena last year. Amite lost at home to the Hawks 35-32 in the quarterfinals and Ferriday lost to a home 12-6 in the semifinals. Smith said his team learned a lot from that loss a year ago.

“I just think that it’s familiar territory. Everyone this time of year is good,” Smith said. “I think they gained a lot of experience. You just have to do your job.”

Kickoff between No. 3 seed Ferriday and No. 2 seed Amite is set for 7 p.m. Both teams are entering this game with lengthy winning streaks. The 10-3 Trojans have won seven in a row since a loss at Class 5A Denham Springs High School.

“We’re possibly as healthy as we’ve been in a long time. We have a few bumps and bruises. But everyone will be on the bus and ready to go Friday,” Smith said.

The 12-1 Warriors, a longtime Class 3A powerhouse before dropping to 2A in 2017, lost their season-opener on Aug. 31 at Metairie Day Country Park School 24-23, but they have not been tested since. They are averaging 44 points a game and allowing less than six points a game.

Only two other teams have scored in double figures since then – MHSAA Class 4A McComb High School with 14 points and District 9-2A foe St. Helena College & Career Academy with 18 points.

Both teams ran the table in their respected districts. The Trojans went 6-0 in District 2-2A while the Warriors went 7-0 in District 9-2A, which was actually a combination of teams from Districts 9 and 10 for football.

However, the fact that Amite hasn’t had a true challenge for 48 minutes since Week 1 and have outscored their three playoff opponents – No. 31 seed Springfield High School (51-0 in the first round), No. 15 seed East Feliciana High School (41-6 in the second round), and No. 23 seed Franklin High School (48-0 on the road last Friday night in the quarterfinals) – a combined 140-6, could be a problem against a Ferriday team that went through a brutal non-district schedule as well as a tough district.

“I think we’re ready for the challenge,” Smith said. “We’re going to have our work cut out for us. We just have to come out and do our job.”

As for what offense the Trojans will expect to see from the Warriors and how they can slow it down, Smith said, “They’re very talented. They have a great quarterback who’s already committee to Kentucky. They have some Division I talent. They have two receivers who are 6-4-plus. They have a running back who has rushed for over 1,500 yards and 32 touchdowns. Their offensive line is big. Alignment. Assignment. Discipline. Just play JYD (Junkyard Dog) football.”

Amite’s defense will also be a tough test for Ferriday’s offense.

“It’s all over the place. Very athletic. Very big up front. They’re playing lights out defense right now,” Smith said. “We have to play fundamental and run our play calls.”

Speaking of defense, the Trojans’ defense came up with two huge stops after their offense turned the ball over on consecutive possessions in the third quarter of their 26-21 comeback win over St. Helena in last week’s quarterfinal match-up.

Da’minya Milligan had two touchdown runs and the 81-yard game-winning touchdown pass-and-run from Kobe Dillon with 42 seconds left. Dillon threw two touchdown passes in that game.

Weather could play a big factor in the outcome of this game. The game-time temperature will be in the 70s, it will be humid, and there will be a high likelihood of rain and thunderstorms for Ferriday and Amite to deal with. Don’t be surprised if the game will be delayed at some point due to lightning.

“For the second week in a row, we’re going to play in a mud bowl,” Smith said. “We’re just going to have to play through it. It’s going to be some tough conditions.”

As for what it will take for the Trojans to defeat the Warriors Friday night, Smith said, “We’re just going to come out and play together. I think everything will fall into place. Play with emotion. Play with intensity. Play JYD football.”