OPELOUSAS — Senior running back Stefano Guarisco started and finished Central Catholic’s impressive 32-20 nondistrict road win against Opelousas Catholic.
After tallying five touchdowns in the Eagles season opener against St. John, Guarisco scored four more against a tough Opelousas Catholic team.
“He’s a (heck) of a football player,” Central Catholic coach Tommy Minton said.
And he didn’t waste any time getting started.
Guarisco took the opening kickoff and burst through a seam down the right sideline, then showed off some great vision by cutting to his left near midfield and outrunning the Vikings defenders on the way to an 85-yard score, then punched in a two-point conversion give Central Catholic an 8-0 lead just 15 seconds into the game.
Late in the game, when it looked like the Vikings were going to finally overcome their self-inflicted wounds and make a charge, it was Guarisco who iced the game.
On third-and-16, Central Catholic’s offensive line beautifully picked up an Opelousas Catholic blitz and Guarisco streaked behind the defense, catching a pass from quarterback Demarcus Mitchell and taking it 67 yards for a score.
Finally, with 51 seconds remaining, Guarisco scored his second rushing touchdown of the night on an 8-yard up-the-gut plunge. The touchdown came on third-and-2 and effectively ended OC’s chances of a wild win.
Guarisco finished the night with 301 all-purpose yards, 149 of which came on the ground. He carried the ball 36 times in the game, including carries on 15 of Central Catholic’s last 18 plays.
The Vikings sold out trying to stop Guarisco and did a solid job bottling him up for the majority of the evening, holding him for 3 or fewer yards on 18 of his 36 carries. But the big plays killed them.
“Guarisco is an all-state caliber player, that ain’t the first time he’s done that,” Opelousas Catholic coach Dane Charpentier said. “Good players usually pop some.”
Both teams got off to a slow start because of some early miscues.
Opelousas Catholic had three errant snaps in the first half, two of which killed drives with losses of 15 and 14 yards, and the last of which resulted in a safety to give Central Catholic a 10-0 lead.
After the safety, Central Catholic looked primed to extend its lead even further. A face-mask penalty after a short kick gave the Eagles the ball at Opelousas Catholic’s 34-yard line, but it was the Eagles’ turn to shoot themselves in the foot.
Central Catholic quarterback Blake Byrne floated a third-down pass to the end zone, allowing Vikings safety Sam Jarrell to intercept it. Two plays later, the Vikings had their own explosive answer to Guarisco’s kick return.
Quarterback David Labbe faked a jet sweep and jetted untouched through the middle of the Eagles defense for an 80-yard touchdown.
But the Vikings entered the locker room with only seven points, and a second-half rally wasn’t enough to overcome those early mistakes.
“I told the kids, you do as much negative things to your team and still have a chance to win in the fourth quarter, that tells me we have a pretty good team,” Charpentier said. “But we ain’t going to beat nobody, much less a good team like that, fighting them and fighting ourselves. We were playing against two opponents.”