Scotlandville coach Robert Valdez knew Thursday night would be special.
The night before the game, the first-year coach told his wife that the team’s final practice of the regular season was the best he had seen all year and figured the team’s game against district rival Denham Springs would be one of their best.
What he didn’t expect was the 41-0 performance his team produced.
“I didn’t want to tell the kids anything — I didn’t want to ruin it — but I went home and told my wife that we had the best day of practice since I’ve been here,” Valdez said. “I knew the mentality and the focus was there.”
Scotlandville (9-1, 4-1 in District 4-5A) dominated the game from the opening whistle, relying primarily on its downhill running game to spur the offense.
Valdez said he wasn’t able to engage the run game as much as he would’ve liked the past few weeks, but on Thursday, he put the ball in the hands of running back Trenton Charles whenever possible, ending the game with 124 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries.
Charles opened up the scoring barrage with a 10-yard run up the middle to cap off a long, methodical drive just before the end of the first quarter.
“Our run game is strong, especially when our O-line is on point,” Charles said. “Denham Springs has a good D-line, but our O-line was just able to dominate tonight.”
For the second consecutive week, Scotlandville defensive back Reggie Cleveland found himself in the end zone when just before half he picked up a botched punt at the Yellow Jacket 25-yard line and scored before the Denham Springs realized the ball was live.
Two plays later, the Hornets’ Dwayne Williams picked up a fumble at the 40-yard line and returned it for a touchdown to give Scotlandville a 28-0 lead heading into the break.
“We work together as a team,” Cleveland said. “If the offense can’t do it, we pick them up.”
Denham Springs’ (5-5, 1-4) night got off to a bad start before it ever took the field as their usual starting quarterback Torez Kinchen watched from the sideline with a separated shoulder suffered in last week’s game against Walker.
It took the better part of the first half for backup Cameron Feucht to get his feet under him against one of the top teams in the state as Denham Springs accumulated just 81 yards of total offense in the first half on top of its two turnovers.
Denham Springs coach Dru Nettles decided to swap in third-string option Parker Simoneaux under center in the second half, but the closest Denham Springs came to scoring was early in the fourth quarter when Simoneaux marched the Yellow Jackets into the red zone only to be picked off by Scotlandville defensive back Bryce Beekman in the end zone.
“The season doesn’t end because someone goes down,” Nettles said. “But it changes things a little bit, but there were some plays there that we had control over that we need to dictate certain things, and we didn’t get it done.”