MANY — Many High School coach Jess Curtis was well aware of Northeast ’s defensive prowess. But Curtis was also aware of how many players Northeast had playing both ways.
And Many took advantage of that.
The top-ranked Tigers (14-0) racked up 384 yards, all but 41 of it on the ground, as they dismissed the No. 5 Vikings in the Class 2A semifinals Friday night at MHS Tigers Stadium.
“We knew they had a great defense and great size to match us up front,” Curtis said. “But our mindset was to keep them on the field and just pound it at them. We got four quarters of their best football, but I think we wore them down.”
Next on the docket for the Tigers is a much-anticipated rematch against No. 2 Kinder, who dispatched of Sterlington in the other semifinal, setting up a rematch of last year’s title game, one which Kinder was victorious.
“Our mindset since last December was to get back to New Orleans and win it,” Curtis said. “We are back in the finals and now our goal is to win it.”
But it didn’t come easy for Many.
The Tigers had just one first down and 11 total yards of offense through the opening quarter, yet still owned a 7-6 advantage thanks to a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown by Xavier Dias.
Northeast was able to answer the defensive score with a 21-yard touchdown pass from Marqueon Minor to Dailon Traylor, but failed on the two-point conversion.
After an exchange of punts, Many put a little distance between it and Northeast with a 92-yard scoring drive, taking four minutes off the clock in the process.
A 41-yard pass from Dias to Isaiah Smith set up the Tigers in Northeast territory, and James Carhee finished it off with a 19-yard scamper for the touchdown. Kentrell Maxie converted on the two-point attempt, giving Many a 15-6 lead, which would be the score at the break.
The Tigers began to put the nail in the proverbial coffin with their opening drive of the second half. Taking over seven minutes off the clock, Many got an 11-yard touchdown run by freshman A.J. Carter with 4:09 remaining in the third period, pushing the Tigers to a 21-6 lead.
Northeast was forced to punt on its next possession and Many pounded the ball down the field for another near 8-minute drive. Carhee finished off the drive with a 3-yard TD run.
Many added the two-point conversion by using some trickery as Carter caught a pass from Alan Warfield after a pitch from holder Tabarius Garner.
Northeast (10-3) answered quickly with a 55-yard TD pass from Minor to Jarman Bradford, cutting into the deficit.
But the Tigers got a late touchdown from Carter on a 54-yard gallop, sealing the win.
Northeast coach David Masterson was proud of his team despite the loss.
“Not too shabby, getting to the semifinals,” he said. “We knew Many’s strength was their offensive line and it showed tonight. But I am very proud of these young men.”
Carhee led the Tigers with 121 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries, while Carter added 79 yards on five totes with two scores.
Maxie had 65 yards on 15 carries, while Kelvin Gosey finished with 48 yards on 11 carries.
Minor paced the Vikings with 99 yards passing and two touchdowns with two interceptions, while also rushing for 76 yards on 11 carries.