Woodlawn’s well-polished 38-7 victory Thursday over St. Michael the Archangel in the District 6-4A opener for both can be traced back to the Panthers approach to homecoming week.
“I was happy with how we handled this week,” Woodlawn coach Daniel Luquet said. “It wasn’t about the pep rally or the (homecoming) dance. It was about the process, and this was the first step in district.”
Woodlawn (5-1) won for the fifth consecutive time, adding to a 31-0 halftime lead on Xavier Lodge’s 35-yard scoring run midway through the third quarter.
Quarterback Brian Byrd accounted for 166 yards — 96 passing and 70 rushing — and a pair of touchdowns, helping the Panthers to 291 total yards.
“We’re going to keep fighting and try to get better on offense and defense,” said St. Michael first-year coach Justin Hutchinson, whose team fell to 2-4. “Give all the credit in the world to Woodlawn. They’re a great team. When you play great teams you’ve got to play great in order to match them.”
Woodlawn parlayed an interception on St. Michael’s first series of the game and capitalized on favorable field position in building a 31-0 halftime cushion.
Lodge, a Louisiana Tech commitment, returned Kade Stuart’s pass down the middle of the field for 32 yards, setting up Joshua London’s 6-yard scoring run just under two minutes into the game.
The Panthers’ 17-point first quarter also included a 43-yard field goal from Jacob Barnes, who also had five touchbacks and a 49-yard punting average, and Byrd’s 40-yard TD run with 1:40 left in the opening quarter.
A pair of short punts resulted in scoring drives of 46 and 26 yards for the Panthers. Chris Middleton Jr. scored on a 36-yard run, and Byrd connected with Bryant Jacob from 13 yards out with 16 seconds to go before halftime.
“For as well as we’ve played defensively, we haven’t gotten many turnovers and given our offense some short fields,” Luquet said. “We did that, and we played well up front. Our offense is starting to play well and do some things.”
St. Michael, which finished with 199 yards total offense — all rushing — ran only four plays in Woodlawn’s territory until the Warriors scored with 51 seconds remaining on Lance Robinson’s 3-yard run. He had a team-high 99 yards on 24 attempts.
“It starts on Monday,” Luquet said. “We talk about that being the most important day. Historically they’ve been terrible for me as a coach, but these guys have a little added oomph. These guys have a goal they want to reach and realize you reach that goal on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Friday is the fun part.”