After finishing in second place last season, the Chalmette Owls were not going to let the District 8-5A championship slip away this time.
Fueled by Masen Mitchell’s 229 yards and five touchdowns on 32 carries and a defense that broke the came wide open in the third quarter, Chalmette routed Higgins 34-6 Thursday night at Hoss Memtsas Stadium to claim a share of the district title.
Chalmette entered the final district game of the season tied with Landry-Walker and Ehret for first place. It is the first football district championship for a Chalmette team since 2004. The title clinched a berth in the Class 5A playoffs for the Owls (7-3, 6-1). Landry-Walker and Ehret play West Jefferson and Cox as they seek a share of the title Friday.
“It feels great, especially after last year when we felt we left something on the table,” Mitchell said.
Coach Jason Tucker, who received a congratulatory Gatorade bath for the second consecutive week, told his players not to let this be the end of it. The first week of the playoffs begin next week.
Chalmette led 14-0 at halftime. The Owls defense turned things up a notch after the second-half kickoff, getting three consecutive turnovers — interceptions by defensive backs Mikael Blaise and Kendrick Tinson and a fumble recovery.
That set up touchdown runs of 27, 1 and 19 and yards by Mitchell in a span of 4 minutes, nine seconds, the lead ballooning to 34-0 at 7:44 of the third.
With Higgins being held to minus-14 yards rushing in the first half and falling behind by two scores, the Owls said they knew the Hurricanes (4-5, 3-4) would pass in the third quarter.
“We had practiced (defending against) all their pass routes this week, so we knew what they were going to do,” Blaise said. “At halftime, we said ‘Let’s go out and finish this and win the district championship.’ ”
The Hurricanes gained just 69 yards and four first downs. Chalmette rushed for 264 yards.
Mitchell gained 157 of the Owls’ 171 first-half rushing yards, as Chalmette dominated in taking a 14-0 halftime lead. He scored both touchdowns. His first — a 74-yard run — came on the first play of Chalmette’s second possession. After establishing the run going right, Mitchell cut back left on a counter play, hit the sideline and raced untouched to the end zone.
His second touchdown, a 1-yard run, capped a 13-play drive that took 8 minutes, 36 seconds off the clock, giving the Owls a 14-0 lead at 5:50 of the second quarter.
Chalmette’s defense was just as impressive, holding the Hurricanes to 13 yards, including 27 on 2-of-7 passing and only one first down in the half.
Higgins had a chance to keep the score close, however. Hurricanes nose tackle Khedric Motten intercepted Jason Roper’s pass and returned the ball 6 yards to the Chalmette 32 with 38 seconds left before halftime.
However, Hurricanes quarterback Daniel White was sacked on consecutive plays by Dylan Tolar and Gerard Heirsch for losses of 9 and 6 yards.