Never had a 7-0, rain-soaked victory looked so sweet and potentially carried so much significance as the one Abbeville registered over Westgate on Friday to complete the regular season and District 5-4A play.
“It’s a little, old 7-0 victory, but there’s a lot more to do than that,” Abbeville first-year coach Gary Adkins said.
After a combined 1-19 record the previous two seasons, Adkins took over Abbeville’s program July 17 and, despite being diagnosed with throat cancer during the season, guided the Wildcats to a 4-6 record.
Abbeville now finds itself positioned for its first playoff berth since 2009 and will learn its fate when the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA prep pairings show unveils all nine of the brackets at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.
The Wildcats have an unofficial power rating of No. 31, placing them in the Class 4A nonselect bracket against Crowley, a projected No. 2 seed.
“When you’ve lost as much as they did over the last couple of years, kids are going to quit and don’t want to have to fight through that,” Adkins said. “We had no clue Friday night whether we were in the playoffs or not. When we won the game, you could see the smiles and body language, which was so rewarding to see.”
Another team from Vermilion Parish, North Vermilion, may have won its way into the Class 3A nonselect playoffs after a 17-7 victory Thursday over Berwick.
The Patriots (4-6) have an unofficial power rating of No. 29.
“That was pretty big for us to stay in. We knew we had to win,” North Vermilion coach Richard Prejean said. “Losing would have probably bumped us out. Now you sit back and try to figure where everybody’s going to fall.”
Several teams from the Acadiana area are in contention for top seeds in both select and nonselect divisions.
District 5-4A champion Cecilia (9-1) could follow Crowley at No. 3 in Class 4A; District 5-3A champion Eunice (9-1) is a projected No. 2 in Class 3A nonselect.
The District 7-1A champion trio of Ascension Episcopal (9-1), Vermilion Catholic (8-2) and Central Catholic-Morgan City (9-1) could land the top three seeds respectively in the Division IV select bracket.
District 4-4A co-champions St. Thomas More (8-2) and Teurlings Catholic (7-3) are projected No. 2 and 6, in the Division II select bracket, while District 5-2A champion Notre Dame of Crowley (10-0) has an unofficial power rating of No. 3 in Division III select.
A week after a potentially damaging one-point home loss to White Castle, Abbeville responded with a 2-yard TD run from Kavon Brown in the second quarter and made it stand up.
The Wildcats, who finished with 92 yards of total offense, forced four turnovers and got key fourth-down stops on their 28- and 8-yard lines.
“For them to come back after the White Castle game and fight hard says a lot about the character of our kids,” Adkins said. “It was heart-warming to see those kids happy.”
North Vermilion, which advanced to the regional round a year ago, faced an uncertain playoff destiny after consecutive District 8-3A losses to E.D. White and Patterson.
The Patriots, who were conducting Senior Night for their final game, went about the process of getting ready to face Berwick when preparations were moved up a day to Thursday to avoid inclement weather in the forecast.
Prejean said North Vermilion responded with its “most complete” game of the season, crediting the play of his seniors for leading the way.
“We were realistic about it,” Prejean said of his team’s postseason chances. “We made them (the seniors) aware it was their last home game and could be their last game period. We told them nothing was guaranteed after this week. If they wanted another week of football, they were going to have to win. I think it helped us focus.”