A little more than 12 hours removed from the biggest win of his coaching career, Catholic High football coach Dale Weiner said it still seemed surreal.
“It’s incredible,” Weiner said. “I can’t put it all into words. There are so many feelings and emotions. But what a night it was for Catholic High, and what a fabulous day it was for Baton Rouge.”
Sixth-seeded Catholic’s dramatic 31-28 victory over top-seeded Rummel in the Division I championship game wrapped up the select schools portion of the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Prep Classic Friday night.
The game put everything together in a neat little package as sixth-seeded Southern Lab (10-3) of Division IV and No. 4 Parkview Baptist (10-3) of Division II gave Baton Rouge quite a coup at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Weiner texted PBS coach Jay Mayet and SLHS coach Marcus Randall to offer congratulations. The 307th win of Weiner’s career may be the one people remember most because it gave the Bears (10-3) the first state football title in school history.
But Weiner will remember other things.
“Ours was such an improbable playoff run,” Weiner said. “These guys never wavered in their belief in themselves and each other.
“They played so hard and so courageously, especially the last three weeks.”
That was so true Friday night. There were turnovers and momentum shifts. There were big plays, including Ian Brian’s short pass that title-game MVP Clyde Edwards-Helaire fashioned into a 78-yard touchdown play.
Skeptics questioned the Bears’ decision on the final play of the first half. Parker Fontenot, who later won it with a 34-yard field goal on the final play of the game, was lined up to kick a shorter field goal since the Bears had no timeouts left.
When Rummel called a timeout, Weiner flipped the script and opted to run a pass play that had been successful all year. However, Rummel changed its coverage, and Brian’s pass was intercepted.
The score remained tied at 14, but Weiner was worried that his team might be discouraged because they didn’t score. Weiner reminded the Bears they were better off than a week earlier when they trailed Evangel 21-0 at halftime.
Weiner soon found out it was all good. Aaron Moffitt wrestled the ball away from Rummel quarterback Chase Fourcade, setting up Fontenot’s game-winner. Some may have doubted the Bears and their first-year kicker. Brian did not.
“We’ve practiced that kick hundreds of times, and (Fontenot) makes nine out of every 10,” Brian said.
Weiner also knew he was part of something special for Baton Rouge. The Bears watched as title-game MVP Reggie Hayes Jr. toss a 47-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Ruffin with 1:55 remaining to lift Parkview over St. Thomas More in Division II.
Southern Lab’s MVP Curtlan Williams had to 45-yard scoring plays — a punt return and a pass reception, to go with an interception as the Kittens beat St. Mary’s 36-2.
Weiner noted how much things have changed for Baton Rouge since Catholic made it to the 4A title game in 1990.
“Back then it was rare to have one team from Baton Rouge make it, and Friday, we had three teams win state titles,” Weiner said. “And we’ve still got Zachary playing this week. What a year.”