Two days before the Class 3A title game Cee Jay Powell had a dream.
“It’s hard to explain, but it always happens to me before games,” Powell said. “I’ll dream about a play I can make or something.
“All I saw were people in the stands and they were celebrating something. But I didn’t know what it was.”
The diminutive Livonia High School quarterback had just played the game of his life. When Powell looked back toward the stands as the clock expired Saturday afternoon at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome he knew. He’d seen it before.
“It was just like my dream,” Powell said. “Before the game, I thought it might be that I scored a touchdown or we scored a touchdown. But this was it. We won it … a state title.”
To call top-seeded Livonia’s surprising 43-14 victory over No. 3 Amite in the 3A title game a dream come true is not an understatement.
The small-town team from Pointe Coupee Parish had gradually moved up the 3A ranks for the past five or six years and won its first state title in 11-man football.
The Wildcats, led by their first-year quarterback, made an impressive statement in Saturday’s first game at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Prep Classic. The 5-foot-6 Powell proved once again that making the big play at the right time speaks volumes.
Most people expected Livonia running back Malcolm Dedrick to take on the starring role in what was expected to be a close game.
There was plenty of room in the spotlight for Dedrick, who scored two fourth-quarter TDs and finished with 186 yards on 29 carries.
Powell was a wide receiver/defensive back a year ago and didn’t earn a starting spot until the end of preseason practice. Saturday proved he has learned his lessons well enough to be voted the Wildcats’ Outstanding Player in the title game.
It was the short bursts of Powell in the option offense that proved to be lethal for Amite. The junior completed 9 of 16 passes for 90 yards. Modest numbers for most. The fact that three of his completions went for TDs was an unpredictable, but solid effort.
Powell rushed for 103 yards on 16 carries and also scored TD. When Amite had closed to within 15 points at 29-14 going into the fourth quarter, Powell used use his legs to put the game away. He scrambled across the field, dodging tacklers on an electrifying 49-yard run that set up a 1-yard scoring run.
“When I run, I get it in my mind that if you’re going to catch me, you’ll have to bring me down,” Powell said. “I just keep my legs moving.”
The celebration Powell saw become a reality brought everything full circle for the Wildcats within one year. The 2013 season ended with a double-overtime loss to Union Parish in the 3A title game.
Months later, the school was ordered to return its runner-up trophy based on an LHSAA investigation that found a reserve player to be ineligible both for football and baseball.
None of that mattered on this day. It was about the game and a big celebration.
Livonia coach Guy Mistretta praised Powell for his leadership abilities, “type A personality” and his infectious smile. Offensive coordinator Marc Brown recalled the first conversation he had with Powell back in the spring.
“He told me, ‘Coach, I’ll do anything I can to make sure I don’t feel the way I did after last year’s (title) game,’ ” Brown said. “And he did that. He’s gotten better making reads on the option and he makes plays.”
As he walked toward the Livonia locker room, Powell was still smiling. And he’s already thinking about next year.
“You know, we’ll have seven starters back on offense and defense,” Powell said.