After flexing its defensive muscle last week, Slidell wanted to improve on the offensive end Friday.
And that the Tigers did — scoring on six of their first seven possessions and rolling up 485 total yards — 351 in the first half of their 49-35 victory against crosstown rival Northshore in their regular-season finale at Panther Stadium.
The Tigers (6-4, 3-4 District 6-5A) allowed only 93 yards in last week’s victory against Fontainebleau.
“We focused on offense all week,” said Slidell senior wide receiver Lionel Craig, who caught one of sophomore quarterback Wayne Griffin’s three touchdown passes and also had a 68-yard interception return that ended the Tigers’ scoring. “We wanted to get the offense started early.
“And things just took off after that.”
Indeed they did.
The Tigers had touchdown drives of 80, 74, 82, 34 (after a fumble) and 43 yards (after a muffed kickoff) in building a 35-14 halftime lead.
They started the second half with another 80-yard drive, this one capped by a 1-yard run by Griffin.
But Griffin’s main damage came through the air. He completed 10 of 13 passes for 191 yards, including TD connections of 35 yards to Kain Mitchell, 34 to Craig and 4 yards to Tariq Reimoenq.
“He’s come a long way,” Craig said of Griffin. “He’s matured a lot.
“He crisp with his passes, and his footwork has gotten better. He’s just making good decisions with everything he has to do.”
Along with Benedict’s passing, the Tigers rushed for 284 yards, including 169 by Kyron Smith.
Craig’s interception return with 22 seconds left in the third quarter gave Slidell a 49-14 lead.
But Northshore (3-7, 1-6) made its final quarter of the season one to remember.
The Panthers scored three touchdowns — on an 8-yard run by Jamie Yepez and passes from Matt Benedict to Alex Allen and Corey Duplessis.
That was the third Benedict-to-Duplessis TD pass of the night, including an 84-yarder on the first play of the second quarter that gave Northshore a 14-13 lead.
But the Panthers were unable to stop the Tigers and couldn’t keep up offensively.
“At 14-13, we thought we might have a change,” Northshore coach Mike Bourg said. “But we just couldn’t stop them.
“Then we had some miscues on special teams and a bad fumble. That’s been the story of our team all season.”
Northshore gave up at least 41 points in all seven district games.
Even the fourth quarter, Bourg added, was less than satisfactory.
“I don’t think it makes our seniors or anybody else happy to go out like this,” he said. “Three-and-seven was not the season we were hoping for.”
Meanwhile Slidell heads to the Class 5A playoffs for the second straight year.
Last season, the Tigers slipped in as the No. 32 seed and were eliminated in the first round by eventual champion Acadiana.
Slidell coach Larry Favre said he expects his team to be somewhere around No. 22 this season. That’s not good enough for a home game in the first round, but it should give his team a fighting chance.
“They start at 8 o’clock in the morning,” Craig said of the playoffs. “We’re going to try to make some noise.
“It’s our time to do it.”