After a slow start, few things that went wrong for St. Michael High on Friday night in a 37-6 win over Belaire High in District 6-4A action.
After challenging district front-runner Plaquemine last week before suffering its only loss, St. Michael rebounded nicely against Belaire (3-7, 0-4). The win put the Warriors at 9-1 for the first time in school history as they finished district play at 3-1.
“We’re going to try to get over the hump and get that first playoff win,” SMHS coach Paul Varnado said. “That starts this week with preparation and doing the things we need to do to get better for the playoffs.”
Matthew Butler paced the Warriors’ attack against Belaire with 187 yards rushing and two touchdowns. His first-quarter score put St. Michael on top early, and quarterback Jeffrey Vaccaro scored late in the second, pushing the lead to 13-0.
St. Michael pulled away with a 17-point third quarter that included Vaccaro’s 40-yard touchdown pass to C.J. McGarner.
Belaire moved the ball at times, but couldn’t find the end zone until the fourth quarter. Fred Ramsey was the Bengals’ leading rusher with 32 yards. Tyler Woods completed 17 of 26 passes for 158 yards.
“Right now, I think we’re right at the door,” Belaire coach Keith Woods said. “This is the third year of the program, and we won a game or two more. We were in most of our other games. We started out with 19 kids and had 64 this year, so the foundation is there.”
St. Michael spent nearly the entire first half in Belaire territory. Despite scoring twice to take a 13-0 halftime lead, the Warriors had chances to make it a larger margin.
The first score came on St. Michael’s third possession after it forced a three-and-out. From the SMHS 22, Matthew Butler took a handoff around left end before cutting back into the open field. Butler eventually found the right sideline on his way to a 78-yard score.
The second touchdown came after a short Belaire punt gave the Warriors a start at the BHS 45. Two runs by Butler picked up 26 yards. Jeffrey Vaccaro finished off the drive with an improvised 19-yard scramble for the touchdown.
Belaire managed just two first downs in the half and never offered up a consistent threat. Daquan Hicks provided the Bengals’ only highlights of the half as he broke loose on kickoff returns following each St. Michael score.
Hicks brought the first back 52 yards to the SMHS 43, but the Bengals fumbled the ball away on the next play. Hicks returned the second kickoff 58 yards to the SMHS 30 where Belaire picked up one first down before being turned back on downs.
“There were a lot of mistakes in the first half,” Varnado said. “I think we relaxed and Belaire took advantage of that. They had opportunities, and luckily our defense kept us in the game.”
Butler finished the half with 133 yards and a score on 12 carries. Belaire quarterback Tyler Woods completed 5 of 11 passes for 14 yards.
St. Michael struck quickly in the third quarter after forcing a Belaire punt. Butler ripped off a 42-yard run to the BHS 8, and scored one play later on a 5-yard run.
The Warriors then recovered an onside kick, and Vaccaro found McGarner for the 40-yard score on the next play.