ST. MARTINVILLE — The Cecilia Bulldogs wrapped up the regular season with a statement.
No. 5-ranked Cecilia dominated St. Martin Parish rival St. Martinville from start to finish as the Bulldogs rolled to a 44-0 victory over the Tigers on Thursday night.
The victory gives Cecilia the District 5-4A championship outright and is the school’s first league title since 2008 when the Bulldogs were still in Class 3A.
“This means the most to us because when we came in as freshman and went 1-9 and then we had a 2-8 season the next year,” Cecilia star senior running back Raymond Calais said. “To come out this season and win the district championship means the world to us.”
After fumbling the opening kickoff, Cecilia (9-1, 4-0) quickly recovered and wasted no time lighting up the scoreboard as Calais scored the first of his three touchdowns on the Bulldogs’ first possession. Calais’ first score was from 23 yards out and he followed with a 42-yard touchdown run later in the opening quarter. Calais ended the game with 165 yards on 11 carries and eclipsed the 2,000-yard rushing mark for the second straight season.
Entering the postseason, Calais has 2,073 rushing yards and 26 touchdowns.
“I have to give credit to my offensive line,” Calais said. “Those guys make my job a hell of lot easier.”
St. Martinville (6-4, 3-1) had a few chances early on to keep the game close.
The Tigers’ best chance to score was set up by a 79-yard kickoff return by Deantre James. But that drive was killed after quarterback Jared Davis was sacked for a loss on fourth and long.
“I am not happy that it happened, but we dropped the opening kickoff,” Cecilia coach Terry Martin said. “We could have crumbled a little bit right there, but we ended up holding them off and then scored pretty quickly. I was happy that we eliminated a lot of those silly penalties that we’ve been having in the past few weeks in the first half.”
Cecilia’s defense was just getting warmed up as the Bulldogs scored two defensive touchdowns and a safety in the opening half.
Chris Lewis recovered a Davis fumble and returned it 47 yards for a touchdown. A few minutes later Ryan Malbrough returned an interception 47 yards for a touchdown as well. A high snap over Davis’ head rolled out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
Cecilia held a commanding 44-0 lead at halftime.
“Last year, we just couldn’t stop people, but this year I think the kids understand what coach Faulk and the rest of the coaches are trying to get them to do,” Martin said. “When you get two defensive touchdowns and another couple of turnovers, it makes things a whole lot easier.”
In the second half, the clock ran while Cecilia put in its backup players on offense and defense and neither team managed to score.
St. Martinville entered the game looking for its first district title since a co-championship in 2003, and its first outright title since 2000 when the Tigers reached the state semifinals. The Tigers still lead the overall series 26-13 but have now lost six of the past eight meetings to the Bulldogs.
Despite the loss, St. Martinville is still in good position to end its two-year playoff drought as the Tigers sit at No. 24 in the Class 4A power rankings.
Cecilia, who is ranked No. 5, meanwhile will earn a home playoff game and enter postseason play riding a seven-game winning streak. Cecilia’s last loss was back in Week 3 in a 50-49 barnburner to Crowley. That doesn’t mean that Martin will be relaxing this weekend.
“Honestly I live in fear every week,” Martin said. “I never know what to expect. I think we still have to worry about ourselves. Every week we should have to make sure to get a little bit better. Like I said I live in fear until that clock hits all zeroes.”