Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- Acadiana's Kevin Moore, right, returns an interception before being tackled by Mandeville's Codie Nye during the second quarter Friday, Nov. 28, 2014, at Mandeville.

Despite preseason predictions that Acadiana would repeat as Class 5A state champions this year, the early season told a different story.

Sure, after dominating wins against St. Martinville and Northside where the Rams won by a combined 85-6, a repeat trip to the Superdome looked promising. But Acadiana faced a tough Shades Valley team from Alabama the following week and dropped that one 39-21.

Acadiana lost two of its next three, struggling to pull out a win against Lafayette High and lost a tough one to Barbe.

The Rams were 3-3 and not playing up to their lofty standards. The district championship slipped away after a loss to rival Carencro in the penultimate game of the regular season.

Quarterback is always important, but the importance is less emphasized in Acadiana coach Ted Davidson’s veer offense.

Running backs Malik Eugene, Donovan Soloman and Eric Duhon carried a big load, but the Rams needed consistent play from their quarterback.

Kevin Moore is one of the Rams’ top players and showed it against Sam Houston as he secured a win with an 87-yard fumble recovery return in the waning seconds.

Moore had been a linebacker since his freshman year. And though he may be the team;s best player, he hasn’t played quarterback since his freshman year.

Davidson named Moore the starting quarterback before the New Iberia game and the experiment did not start out as planned.

“They changed quarterbacks against us,” New Iberia coach Rick Hudson said. “It didn’t work against us. (Moore) had a lot of problems with the exchange and turning over the football. After the game, I still had my doubts that they could make the adjustments.”

The Rams beat New Iberia that night, but not before fumbling 10 times, including five lost. Moore also threw an interception. Davidson said after that game he was sticking with Moore and said Moore has good “football savvy.” Hudson agreed.

“He is a football player,” Hudson said. “The coaches over there say he is the biggest competitor they have on the team and their biggest leader. When you have a guy like that on your team, he perpetuates winning.”

Davidson and the Acadiana staff have worked with Moore to get better and in return, Moore has given the Rams a chance for a return trip to the state finals if they can beat Zachary Friday.

Against Mandeville in the semifinals last week, Moore threw for a pair of touchdowns, and the Rams defense locked up the Skippers’ dual-threat Parker Orgeron.

Hudson said even when the Rams struggled early, the defense always played up to Acadiana standards. The Rams may need to lean on the defense to finish off the repeat.

“Those guys give great effort on defense every single week,” Hudson said. “If you get great effort on defense, you always have a chance to win.”