Vermilion Catholic has found itself in the unfamiliar position of having to bounce from defeat, not once but twice this season.
With coach Russell Kuhns now in his fourth season, the Screaming Eagles had never lost more than one game during the regular season and were undefeated in district play — a stretch of 20 consecutive wins.
After opening the season with a 35-21 win over Class 2A Catholic High of New Iberia, Vermilion Catholic endured a 35-21 home setback to Class 3A Kaplan.
Three straight wins set the stage for a huge road encounter in which the Eagles dropped a second-half lead and fell to current No. 2 and unbeaten Ascension Episcopal 40-39.
VC answered its second regular-season loss — the first time that’s happened since 2010 — with back-to-back wins over Central Catholic-Morgan City and Gueydan, raising the Eagles (6-2) to No. 6 in the Louisiana Sportswriters Association’s statewide rankings released Tuesday.
“The two losses we have are to two very good teams,” said Kuhns, who is 41-6 at VC. “The kids know what the goal is, and you’re always wanting to be the best. You can’t let yourself get down. You have to bounce back and respond, or it’s all out the window.”
Notre Dame (8-0) remains the area’s lone No. 1 ranked team, compiling eight of 10 first-place votes and 116 points to outdistance No. 2 Many (7-1) with 108.
Acadiana (6-2) continues to receive votes but remains unranked in Class 5A.
Class 4A was a source of strength again with No. 2 Crowley (8-0) and No. 3 Teurlings Catholic (6-2) all winning, with St. Thomas More (6-2) slipping two spots to No. 5 following its 42-28 loss to Teurlings.
Cecilia (7-1) also received votes in Class 4A.
Three teams — No. 5 Eunice (7-1), No. 7 Patterson (6-2) and No. 9 Church Point (6-2) — are all ranked in Class 3A.
This represents the highest ranking of the season for Eunice, which defeated Church Point 37-6 last week.
Vermilion Catholic was ranked as high as fourth to start the season before dropping to as low as seventh with a loss to Ascension Episcopal.
Following their loss to Kaplan, the Eagles achieved a 33-point average margin of victory but arguably more impressively went on the road after falling at Ascension Episcopal and defeated Central Catholic 48-30.
Vermilion Catholic, which travels to Centerville on Friday, was back to its prolific way in last week’s 53-14 win over Gueydan, led by quarterback Hunter Frith (191 yards passing, two TDs) and wide receiver Tyler Derouen (3-84, TD).
“The way we looked at it was, ‘Did the kids put in the most effort they possibly could? Did we put the kids in position to win?’ Both losses we had them in position to win,” Kuhns said. “We made critical mistakes at times and didn’t come out a winner, and that’s fine. I expect us to continue to move forward and respond.”