Catholic-New Iberia defense paves way for high-scoring Panthers offense _lowres

Advocate photo by BUDDY DELAHOUSSAYE --Catholic New Iberia's Zi'yon Hill tackles Northlake Christian's Migue Black in a Division III quarterfinal playoff game Friday night.

Legendary college football coach Paul Bear Bryant once said, “Offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships.”

With a powerful running attack and a playmaker at quarterback in Jason Pellerin, top-seeded Catholic-New Iberia’s offense has certainly sold their share of tickets this season, averaging nearly 52 points per game.

However on the other side of the football stands a dominating defense that is having a season to remember.

Catholic-New Iberia coach Brent Indest said the Panthers’ offensive success can be credited to the team’s defense.

“Our defense has set up our offense all year long,” Indest said. “We get so many more snaps than our opposition because of all of the three-and-outs our defense pitches.”

Opponents are having a difficult time cracking the Panthers defense. Offenses are averaging 200 yards and 13 points per game against the Panthers. However, a large portion of these numbers have come against the Panthers second-team defense.

One of the Panthers’ strongest defensive performances of the season came in last week’s quarterfinal matchup against Northlake Christian. Until the final minute of the first half, the Panthers held Northlake Christian to negative yardage.

Like many opponents this season, the physical nature of the Panthers defense was too much for Northlake Christian.

“Physicality is one of our main points,” senior defensive back Logan Breaux said. “We want to be the toughest team in the state.”

However, Breaux said this year’s defense has more than just physical toughness.

“We are very smart this year,” Breaux said. “What we don’t have in fitness, strength-wise, we definitely have in knowledge.”

Perhaps the strongest aspect of the Panthers defense is tthe defensive front.

Catholic-New Iberia front-seven defenders, including Kyle Simon and Zi’yon Hill, have dominated the line of scrimmage throughout the 2014 season.

“What set us apart from the rest of the district this year was our defensive front,” Indest said. “They’re not huge, but they cause a lot of disruption.”

The Panthers defense will have a big challenge Friday, as they travel to New Orleans to take on fifth-seeded Newman (12-1).

“(Newman) passes the ball pretty well,” Breaux said. “We have been focusing on their passing scheme a lot in practice. They have good receivers, but I think we will do well.”

Breaux and the Panthers will be looking for redemption after falling in last year’s state semifinals to eventual Division III state champion Calvary Baptist.