All season long, John Ehret’s vaunted defensive front seven has garnered a reputation for controlling games.
Last week, for instance, Ponchatoula coach Hank Tierney said the difference in their Class 5A quarterfinal, won 34-7 by Ehret, was: “We couldn’t block their defensive line.”
Ehret (11-2), seeded ninth, hosts No. 12-seeded Mandeville (10-3) on Friday at Hoss Memtsas Stadium.
Ehret is seeking to advance to a state championship game for the first time since 1985. Mandeville, which is in the semifinals for the third time in five years, has never reached the title game.
For the Patriots to advance, however, their defensive backs might have to play a big role against the Skippers. After getting four interceptions against Ponchatoula, they’re up for the challenge, Corey Lambert said.
“Our defensive backfield is playing real good,” Ehret coach Corey Lambert said. “They stop the run, they stop the pass.”
Against Ponchatoula, the Patriots had eight sacks, the pressure obviously playing a part in the interceptions.
However, Mandeville often runs a spread offense that requires quarterback Cody Orgeron to get rid of the ball quickly. Often it’s to twin brother Parker, who has 58 receptions for 865 yards. The sons of LSU defensive line coach Ed Orgeron are seniors.
Parker Orgeron had seven catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns against Landry-Walker. Cody passed for 203 yards.
“They run a lot of screens and things like that,” Lambert said. “But our defensive backs have improved a lot this season at making tackles in space and rallying to the ball.”
Last week, cornerbacks Shyheim Gullage, Terrell Bailey and Travis Jordan and safety Jarrius Wallace all had interceptions.
After the Ponchatoula game, Ehret defensive backs coach Daron Franklin said Wallace, who has committed to play at Central Florida, is the best safety in the state after he came across the field to make an interception that started Ehret on a game-sealing 20-0 fourth quarter.
Cody Orgeron often makes short and quick throws to Parker. A four-year starter, he convinced Cody, a state champion tennis player, to come out for football this season.
“I wish (Cody was here) for three years,” LeCompte said. “He’s got tremendous accuracy, he’s mobile and he’s extremely smart. He picked up our offense quickly.
“You talk about the ‘it’ factor, Parker has that. He has phenomenal spacial awareness and adjusts to the football almost immediately.”
LeCompte saw on film what effect Ehret’s defensive front seven had last week against Ponchatoula. The Skippers beat Ponchatoula 31-27 in a District 6-5A game on Oct. 1.
“Ehret has a couple of linebackers who have gotten interest from SEC schools,” LeCompte said. “That doesn’t come around too often.”
Linebackers Michael Divinity, who has committed to play at LSU, and Dejon Harris, who has committed to Arkansas, are part of an Ehret defense that has allowed just 14 points in three state playoff games.
When Mandeville started the season, it didn’t have a returning starter on the offensive line, which has no seniors. It will have to play well for the Skippers.
“We’re young, but I’m very proud of those guys,” LeCompte said. “They have really, really come along since the start of the season.”
The offensive line played a big role in Mandeville’s 31-14 victory at Landry-Walker last week. The Skippers had touchdown drives of 70 and 82 yards in taking control in the first half. They mixed the pass with the run, with Fritz Walker and Taron Jones combining for 121 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Cody Orgeron completed 14 of 17 passes.
Mandeville has averaged 38.0 points in the playoffs. However, it has allowed 79 points (26.3). Ehret has averaged 32.7 points in its playoffs, using a bruising rushing attack that wears down opponents.
The teams played in the first round of the 2013 playoffs, with Ehret rallying for two touchdowns in the final 1 minute, nine seconds to pull out a 21-14 win.