Acadiana High football coach Ted Davidson felt backed into a corner.
The Wrecking Rams’ vaunted veer offense, predicated on dependable ballhandling from its quarterback, rode a roller-coaster during the regular season marred by excessive fumbling in their four losses.
Acadiana’s dilemma reached an apex Oct. 31 when the Rams’ objective of remaining in the District 3-5A championship title chase was dashed in a last-seconds 24-17 loss to Carencro — a game in which they lost five of six fumbles.
“We got together and thought about whether we were going to be able to make any move in the playoffs,” Davidson said. “It really wasn’t like it was a tremendous gamble because it’s not like we would have had a chance without it (the change at quarterback).”
Davidson’s solution was to switch quarterbacks for an unprecedented third time this season.
This time the keys to Acadiana’s offense were handed to Kevin Moore — the team’s leading tackler and vocal leader at middle linebacker — heading into its regular-season finale against New Iberia that not only produced a 42-14 victory but sparked a four-game win streak.
Moreover, Moore’s presence at two of the most vital positions on the field, has galvanized the efforts of a team once searching to regain its identity and has fueled another deep postseason run with No. 15 Acadiana (9-4) hosting No. 3 Zachary (12-1) Friday in a Class 5A state semifinal at 7 p.m.
“I’ve always put the team before me,” Moore said. “I’ve said if my team ever needed me to play quarterback I would move to that position. I just try to keep everyone on the same page and make sure that everyone has their heads up.”
Moore’s previous experience at quarterback consisted of being the starter on Acadiana’s freshman team three years ago and taking some snaps earlier this season in practice as the team’s “emergency” quarterback.
Davidson, who has won 100 games and three state championships in 10 years, reconciled his decision to move Moore to the offensive side, while allowing him to continue starting on defense where he leads Acadiana’s defense with 137 tackles, three forced fumbles, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
“It was kind of crazy, I guess,” Davidson said. “But desperate times call for desperate measures. I thought we had a pretty good football team and for us to move on and show that we needed to make the change. Kevin’s leadership and toughness were something we needed on offense.”
Moore’s first start wasn’t a work of art with three straight fumbles (none lost) on one series and five fumbles overall. However the team’s 28-point victory and manner in which they prevailed provided a semblance of the portrait Davidson wanted to see.
A week later, the Rams successfully opened defense of the their state crown with a 37-0 first-round victory over St. Amant before the Rams registered consecutive road wins over No. 2 Ponchatoula (38-28) and No. 10 Mandeville (28-14) the past two weeks.
“I didn’t put any pressure on myself or was worried about fumbling the ball,” Moore said. “I became comfortable the first day at practice. I was also confident. Every day we built chemistry on offense. I was just ready to play.”
Moore said Acadiana’s coaching staff hasn’t had to tear any pages out of the team’s playbook and in some instances have added some additional plays, taking advantage of the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder’s athleticism and ability to execute the team’s play-action passing game.
In last week’s quarterfinal win over Mandeville, Moore accounted for nearly 150 total yards and three touchdowns. He completed 4 of 6 passes for 119 yards, including two TDs to LSU tight end commitment Kiethen Mouton.
During his four-game stretch at quarterback, Moore has completed 76 percent of his passes (16 of 21) for 345 yards with three touchdowns with one interception for an offense that’s lost only two fumbles that were both forced by the defense.
“I always ask my teammates if they trust me,” Moore said. “People believe in the quarterback position now, and the move helped both sides of the ball. I trust everyone on our team to do their job. They’ve got to trust me to do the same thing.”