Two weeks into the season, reigning Division IV state champion Vermilion Catholic found itself in character-building mode.
The Screaming Eagles, who lost 14 starters from the school’s second state title team, dropped a 42-14 decision to Class 2A’s No. 2 Catholic-New Iberia and a week later trailed Class 2A’s Welsh in the second half.
Not only did Vermilion Catholic rally in regulation to force overtime, but the Eagles went on to a 32-26 victory — a result that ignited a five-game win streak.
The stretch has also allowed Vermilion Catholic, the preseason No. 7 team in Class 1A, to rebound from a low of No. 10 to a high of No. 3 for the second straight week in the latest Louisiana Sports Writers Association statewide rankings released Tuesday.
“The Welsh game was big for us because that was the first time we responded and fought as a team to come back and get a victory,” VC coach Russell Kuhns, who is 30-5 in his third season. “We had our backs against the wall in the second half and basically bonded together. It was either 0-2 or 1-1. No one from last year’s team was going to make any plays. They figured out if it was going to get done they were going to have to do it.”
St. Thomas More (6-0) retained its No. 1 ranking in Class 4A for a second week, pulling down six first-place votes to outpoint No. 2 Neville (5-1) 142-134.
The Cougars host cross-town rival Teurlings Catholic (4-1), in a key District 5-4A showdown at 7 p.m. Friday. The Rebels, who were idle last week, moved two spots to No. 7 followed by No. 8 Rayne (5-1) and No. 9 Breaux Bridge (4-2), which is back in the poll after a 40-0 win over Northside.
The losses of the No. 4-5-6 teams, coupled with a 55-6 victory, resulted in Church Point (6-0) jumping one position to No. 6 in Class 3A behind District 5-3A rival No. 5 Livonia (5-0), with Notre Dame of Crowley (4-2) also rising one spot to No. 8.
Kaplan (4-2) received six points.
An impressive 57-point triumph to open District 5-2A play enabled Catholic-New Iberia (6-0) to hold onto its No. 2 spot in the Class 2A ranking, trailing No. 1 Many (6-0) by just seven points.
District 5-2A member Opelousas Catholic (6-0) debuted this week at No. 10 following a 27-6 victory over Loreauville.
VC followed its overtime win over Welsh with a 35-30 verdict over parish rival Erath and has since reeled off three straight District 7-1A wins to hold the league’s top spot.
The Eagles host Highland Baptist of New Iberia on Friday with two more district game to follow that include a road game against Hanson (3-3) and the regular-season finale with Ascension Episcopal (5-1) at home.
“We’re more focused on how our team can get better,” Kuhns said. “No one looks at the rankings, and if they do, they’re not satisfied. As long as they’re still making mistakes, they want to get themselves better. That’s the most encouraging thing about this team. They want to be perfect doing everything.”