With a little under four minutes left to play in the LHSCA/FCA All-Star Game, down by three, there was no question who was getting the ball for the East squad.
For the past 44 minutes, East St. John wide receiver Da’Monte Coxie had been unstoppable. Every time the East needed a big play, there he was.
Things weren’t about to change now.
St. Paul’s quarterback Kenny Sears stepped up in the pocket, he once again found Coxie at about the 20-yard line, where a defender immediately jumped on Coxie’s back. But a little extra weight wasn’t about to stop him from reaching the end zone as he proceeded to drag a defender 15 yards across the goal line.
The play was by far the LSU commitment and game MVP’s most impressive on an already spectacular day — six catches for 194 yards and two touchdowns — but more importantly it sealed the come-from-behind 35-25 win for the East at Louisiana Leadership’s Doug Williams Stadium.
“We were down and coach just said we needed a play,” said Coxie who played at Tara High before this past season. “I knew they trusted me enough, and I just made a play for the team.
“I didn’t want to lose my last game in high school football.”
The East clinched the final score a few minutes later when East Ascension quarterback Kyran Irvin dropped back at safety on the game’s last play and intercepted a Hail Mary pass and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown.
The play was only the last in a long line of defensive performances on the day as the newly formed offenses struggled to finding proper timing and communication.
East defensive lineman Sully Laiche (Lutcher) and linebacker Deion Rainey (Southern Lab) were a particularly disruptive force in the West backfield all day. The two combined for five sacks and appeared to apply pressure to the pocket on a majority of downs.
“One of the smartest things we did as a staff … was not over coach them,” East coach Mark Songy of Jesuit said. “We went in thinking we were going to be fairly simple and let these guys make the plays they’re accustomed to all the time.”
The West wasn’t without its share of good fortunes on defense, too, with C.E. Byrd defensive end Malik Leary busting through for a safety on the game’s second play.
The West also added a pair of red-zone interceptions by Airline’s Xavier Johnson and Shaw’s Shay Ragas, both off Irvin in the first half.
Irvin finished 5-of-8 passing for 39 yards, but it was Sears’ connection with Coxie that led the way in the passing game.
Sears finished with 294 yards and three touchdowns on 10-of-13 passing.
Ascension Episcopal quarterback Jake Arceneaux of the West team threw for 188 yards on 9-of-17 passing.
“When you get an all-star game with so many great players out here, rarely do you ever get a really good, close ballgame like that. Usually one team jumps out,” West coach Jess Curtis of Many said. “I’m proud of our guys for fighting. They worked hard all week, and I think the fans got their money’s worth.”