Port Allen dashes Ferriday’s hopes

Published 10:05 pm Tuesday, December 8, 2020

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FERRIDAY — In what was a disappointing end to what should have been another great season, the Ferriday High School Trojans were upset by the Port Allen High School Pelicans 22-20 last Friday night in the second (regional) round of the 2020 LHSAA Class 2A Playoffs.

Ferriday was expected to be, once again, among the top contenders for the Class 2A state championship. After all, the Trojans themselves had high expectations of their own after winning the state championship last year.

But a shortened schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of practice before the season finally started in early October eventually took its toll on Ferriday, which finished with an overall record of 6-2.

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“We had to deal with COVID. We had a difficult season to say the least,” Trojans head coach Stanley Smith said. “We started off fast, be we lost at the end. We underachieved.”

Indeed, the Trojans did start strong with three shutout wins in their first five games as they top-ranked team in Class 2A was 5-0 overall and 4-0 in District 2-2A entering its top-10 showdown with the ninth-ranked and also undefeated Mangham High School Dragons.

Even with a limited capacity due to COVID-19 restrictions and protocols, Mangham was not intimidated by its opponent or by the setting — Melz Field.

In fact, the Dragons were the more physical team and defeated Ferriday 42-36 to win the district championship and eventually earn the No. 2 seed in the Class 2A Playoffs.

“Mangham came out to play. They have a good team and they’re still playing,” Smith said. “We didn’t play our brand of football. We didn’t execute. We didn’t play for four quarters. They wanted it more than we did.”

Port Allen’s victory over Ferriday ruined what would have been a rematch between the Trojans and the Dragons in the quarterfinals from taking place.

After that loss to Mangham, the Trojans’ final two regular-season games were canceled due to players testing positive for COVID-19 — a district game at Delhi Charter School and a non-district game at Richwood High School. They wound up with a 4-1 record in district play.

Ferriday entered the Class 2A Playoffs as the No. 7 seed and was scheduled to host No. 26 seed East Feliciana High School in the first round on Nov. 27, but on the day the brackets were released, Smith found out that the Tigers would not be able to play that game after some of their players tested positive for COVID-19. The Trojans advanced with a 2-0 forfeit win before losing to Port Allen.

“We really didn’t achieve our goals. We didn’t win district this year. We didn’t win the state championship this year. It was a difficult year,” Smith said.

When asked if his team would have been able to play a full season, gone undefeated and won back-to-back state titles, Smith said, “We don’t talk about coulda, shoulda, woulda. We didn’t take advantages of the opportunities we had. You just have to play the cards that you’re dealt  and we didn’t play them (right).”

Even though Ferriday didn’t advance as far in the playoffs as it should have, there were some players who stepped up that surprised him — senior defensive end/tight end Donta Boxley, senior linebacker/running back Kobe Johnson, and senior linebacker/running back Larin Stampley.

“Larin Stampley, you came on strong at the end. He played linebacker for us this year,” Smith said.

Ferriday loses 17 seniors from this year’s team and Smith said that some of the younger players will have to step up and assume a leadership role if the Trojans are to win the district title and make a deep playoff run in 2021.

“We’re going to have to attack the weight room in the offseason. We lost a lot of seniors. We’re going to have a lot of question marks,” Smith said.

Of course, that will also depend on what classification and district in the LHSAA Ferriday ends up in and whom the Trojans will face next season.