Newman had some rough patches during the course of the season, but they knew finishing the season strong would be key as the team heads into the playoffs.
The Greenies made sure of that with a 33-22 win over West St. John in a District 9-2A game that was moved to Thursday because of weather concerns.
With Thursday’s win, the Greenies (7-2, 3-2) finished the season beating their last three opponents by a combined score of 125-45.
“We divided the season into thirds, and we came into (the past three games) saying we’ve got to finish this thing,” Newman coach Nelson Stewart said. “That was critical for us. We said we’ve got to finish to get into the playoffs and get where we need to be.”
Newman, ranked No. 10 in the LHSAA Division III power ratings and fourth among small schools in The New Orleans Advocate Super 10, has won its past three games to finish the season and is hoping its new-look squad can build on what last year’s history-making team accomplished.
The Greenies advanced to the semifinals of the Division III playoffs last season — the furthest the school has advanced since Peyton Manning was the quarterback 23 years ago — and will be looking to quarterback Miles Lapeyre and wide receiver Elbert Thomas to help the team make another run once the playoffs begin next week.
Lapeyre finished Thursday night completing 13 of his 23 passes for 209 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Thomas, who came into Thursday leading the New Orleans area in catches (60) and receiving yards (838), had seven catches for 162 yards
Running back James Poche also added 22 carries for 125 yards and three touchdowns.
“We’ve been playing really well as an offense, and our goal was to be playing our best going into the playoffs,” Lapeyre said. “We just have to keep it up from here and just take it a game at a time.”
After going into halftime tied with West St. John at 14, Newman took control of the game by scoring on its first two possessions to open the second half.
The Greenies got things started with a six-play, 65-yard drive that Poche capped off with a 45-yard touchdown run — his third score of the game. Newman followed with a five-play, 57-yard drive that ended with Lapeyre finding Chris Lane for a 12-yard touchdown that boosted the Newman lead to 27-14 with 3:47 left in the third
The Rams cut the lead to 27-22 late in the fourth quarter and had an opportunity to take the lead with less than two minutes left, but Newman linebacker Alex Abramson returned an interception 34 yards for a touchdown to put the win away for the Greenies.
“It was huge, we kind of needed a big stop right there,” Abramson said of his interception. “They had been going to that (route) on the previous drive. …When they came out in trips (formation), I just took a shot and jumped it.”
The Rams, ranked No. 15 in Class 2A in the LHSAA power ratings, finished the season with 3-7 record and a 1-4 record in District 9-2A in the team’s first season as a member of Class 2A.
West St. John hasn’t finished a season with seven losses in over a decade, but the Rams hope they can turn things around once the playoffs begin.
Rams quarterback Jemoine Green finished the game 16-of-35 for 214 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.