YOUNGSVILLE — The Ascension Episcopal players and coaches looked like they couldn’t even feel the rain and the stiff wind as they huddled together after beating Lafayette Christian Academy 35-7 in their homecoming game.
The small stuff doesn’t affect you as much when you’ve just made history, it turns out.
The Blue Gators (9-0, 6-0 District 7-1A) clinched at least a share of their first ever district title with the win and can win it outright next week on the road against Central Catholic of Morgan City. They made sure to savor the moment that’s been in the works for a long time.
“For those kids, it just validates the work they’ve put in the last three-and-a-half years,” AES coach Mike Desormeaux said. “It feels so good when you see a group of kids that deserve something so good get it. It makes me feel so good for them because they’ve worked so hard for it.”
The Blue Gators have started fast frequently this season, so when his team won the toss, Desormeaux opted to receive the ball and get started on offense.
That decision paid off. Ascension Episcopal scored on each of its first three possessions to take a commanding early lead against Lafayette Christian (4-5, 3-3).
It was the Ascension Episcopal ground game that got the Blue Gators offense going on the opening drive.
Quarterback Jake Arceneaux took off for 27 yards on a third-and-long to keep the opening drive alive, and running back Ja’Ceiry Linzer carried the ball four times for 25 yards on the drive, his last carry going 10 yards for a score.
But it was Arceneaux and the receivers who stole the show after that. Arceneaux once again converted another third-and-long with a deep pass down the sideline to Ronald LeBlanc for 36 yards.
On the next play, Arceneaux hit Zach Ronquillo on a short crossing route, and Ronquillo jetted past the defense for an 18-yard score.
Lafayette Christian had some momentum on the ensuing drive, but it stalled near midfield, when the Knights were stuffed for no gain on fourth-and-inches at their own 47.
The Blue Gators immediately turned that momentum into seven points, as Arceneaux lofted a high arcing pass down the left sideline to LeBlanc, hitting him perfectly in stride for a 47-yard score.
“It was a matter of stopping (Linzer) and stopping (LeBlanc),” LCA coach Derek Landry said. “We did a good job of corralling (Linzer), but we didn’t do such a good job of corralling (LeBlanc).”
LeBlanc finished with four grabs for 111 yards. His last catch was one that will likely top the AES highlight reel at the end of the year.
Behind some strong runs from Lafayette Christian quarterback Zach Clement, who finished with 95 yards rushing, the Knights crept back into the game with a third quarter touchdown.
“(Clement’s) going to be outstanding as he gets older. He’s a freshman … and he’s just starting to get comfortable.”
The Knights were poised to get the ball back with great field position when they forced AES into a third-and-long from deep inside its own territory.
But Arceneaux threw deep for LeBlanc down the sideline, and with his man draped over him, LeBlanc snared the pass with one hand for a 36-yard gain. Linzer would cap that drive with an 11-yard score to push the Blue Gators’ lead back to 21.
“Those kinds of guys have to make those kinds of plays when you need them to, and he did,” Desormeaux said of LeBlanc’s catch.
With an outright district title as well as a perfect regular season on the line, next week’s game against Central Catholic is lining up to be the biggest game in school history. Desormeaux thinks his boys are ready for the challenge.
“We said from the beginning we want to be playing for something in Week 10,” Desormeaux said, “and here we are.”