Zachary High had the chance to wrap up Baton Rouge’s best high school football season ever into a neat little package.
But why think small? The Broncos sure didn’t.
Zachary provided an exclamation point with a dominant 46-12 victory over John Ehret in the Class 5A nonselect state title game that closed out the LHSAA Prep Classic on Saturday night.
The Broncos scored 40 unanswered points to put the finishing touches on the largest high school sports gift the Baton Rouge area has ever seen.
Christmas came early as teams in East Baton Rouge Parish ended decades of frustration by winning four state titles over two weekends in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
I know this isn’t Baton Rouge’s first sports splash. Basketball dominance is nothing new. Last year, three boys teams won state titles.
But in a state where football is king, the ultimate prize is to stand at the top of the mountain, particularly in the top classification.
Local teams did that twice in nine days, with Catholic High winning the Division I select title before Zachary won the Class 5A crown. Those were the first state football titles for either schools.
Throw in Parkview Baptist (Division II select) and Southern Lab (Division IV select), and you have a banner year like no other. And you can throw in nearby champions Kentwood in Class 1A, Lutcher in Class 3A and even MAIS 3A champion Silliman Institute for good measure.
But no team illustrated Baton Rouge’s story quite like Zachary. The Broncos had never won a state football title. Even though Zachary was the No. 2 seed, skeptics questioned how good the Broncos and their star quarterback, Lindsey Scott Jr., really were.
Zachary’s loss to Class 2A Calvary Baptist on national TV early in the season and the number of points the Broncos defense had given up also factored into the conversation.
“God, I love this football team,” coach David Brewerton said in the postgame news conference. “When I walked into the locker room at halftime ... just the look on their faces was beautiful. They asked me all day long why I was so calm. It was because I knew what we had in our locker room; I knew these kids weren’t going to lose tonight.”
Before the game, another media member approached me to say Scott was the least-known Gatorade Player of the Year ever. Translation: He’s a Baton Rouge guy, so how good could he be?
Well, Scott did his thing, compiling 316 yards and five touchdowns: two rushing and three passing. He finished the season with 5,002 total yards and 61 total TDs. And the Syracuse commitment picked up a scholarship offer from Tulane, Brewerton said.
But the deal-maker for me was the Zachary defense. The opportunistic Broncos forced three turnovers, and the offense turned all of them into TDs.
Zachary’s defense flipped both field position and the scoreboard. Brad Jones’ first-half fumble recovery set up Scott’s 17-yard TD pass to Doug Coleman that gave the Broncos the lead for good at 13-12 with 23 seconds left in the half. Interceptions by Keenan Tate and Shyron White also led to TDs.
“I think our defense went out there with a chip on their shoulders,” Brewerton said. “All week long they heard about how great Ehret’s defense was, and rightfully so. John Ehret has a bunch of guys with SEC talent. Our guys felt like they had something to prove, and they did it.”
Seeing Brewerton win a state title two years after leading Livonia to a Class 3A runner-up finish was special. For the Zachary coach and two staff members, it finally came full-circle.
Brewerton was a starting lineman on the Catholic team that finished as the runner-up to Ruston in the 4A title game in 1990. His position coach was ZHS Principal Joe LeBlanc. Assistant coach Gerry Garidel was Catholic’s longtime defensive coordinator.
Chris Carrier completed a rare double play. The former LSU player and Catholic assistant won a state title as a player at Eunice in 1982. On Saturday, he coached his son, Cameron, to a state title.
Yes, Christmas came early, Baton Rouge. Your top high school football teams aren’t just a gift package: They were the total title package we’ve all dreamed about.