Saints have date with destiny, Richwood in 3A title game

Four other times in its long history, the West Feliciana football team faced a possible date with destiny, needing only a semifinal playoff victory to earn a trip to the Superdome. Four times, the Saints came up agonizingly short including the last three consecutive seasons.

But not a fifth time.

Playing with inspired determination last Friday and cheered on by a record home crowd, coach Robb Odom’s team finally blasted through the invisible barrier as they vanquished a very talented Jennings team 45-26 in a Class 3A non-select semifinal contest.

Odom’s sixth-seeded Saints will play No. 8 Richwood in the Superdome on Dec. 8 for the Class 3A non-select state championship in the All-State Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Prep Classic. Kickoff is 7 p.m. Fittingly, in the home stadium of the New Orleans Saints, West Feliciana has been designated as the home team.

Quarterback Derek Turner led the way for the Saints against Jennings, rushing for 204 yards and two touchdowns and passing for 56 yards and another score. Derius Davis scored twice, Davon Harris added a 90-yard kickoff return to start the second half and Taylor Casteel scored on a 25-yard fumble return a minute later to pretty much put the game out of reach for the visitors. Harris closed out the scoring with a 44-yard run in the fourth period.

The win pushed the Saints’ record to 13-1 and a 10th straight victory. The only loss this season was to University High, the undefeated District 6-3A champion. The top-seeded Cubs will play earlier at 3 p.m. Friday against De La Salle for the Select Division II state title in the Dome.

Richwood, like West Feliciana, will be making its first appearance in a title game in the Superdome. The Rams, which are from the Monroe area, are coached by Robert Arvie and have built an impressive resume this year.

They finished second in District 2-3A en route to a 7-3 regular season and have won nine of their past 10, the only loss to Sterlington in the regular season finale 28-21, which was for the league crown. In the playoffs, Richwood has wins over North Vermillion (20-17), Loranger (20-14), then avenged an earlier loss to top-seeded Sterlington (15-14) and edged Kaplan (15-8) in the semis.

Now it’s a one-game season with the state championship in the balance.

“The last three years of not winning this game has been rough,” Odom said. “They deserve it. I’m so happy for the community and the kids. We’ve knocked at the door and finally broke it down. Everybody’s got a part in this. It’s an unbelievable feeling, and we can’t wait.”

State championship game notes: On Friday at noon, the Saints team bus caravan will leave West Feliciana High School for the Superdome. School officials encourage members of the community to line U.S. 61 to cheer on the team. … General admission tickets will be available at the Superdome for $13 apiece. … If you can’t make it to the Dome, Cox Sports television will broadcast the game on its website at CoxSportsTV.com. … Brackets and more information are available on the LHSAA website.

Send sports news, photos and stats to Howard Arceneaux at feliciananews@theadvocate.com.