Barbe was on the cusp of cutting Carencro’s halftime lead in half to a touchdown, reaching the Bears red zone for the second straight drive in Friday’s District 3-5A football opener.
On the previous series, Carencro’s defense stuffed a fourth-down run at the 2-yard line and were back on their heels once again, trying to protect a 28-14 lead.
After a holding penalty negated a touchdown, Barbe opted to call a screen pass — a play that previously worked on several occasions — when cornerback Gabe Duffy stepped in to shut the door on the Buccaneers once again.
Duffy read the play perfectly, picked off the pass and found nothing in front of him but an opportunity to return the interception 94 yards for a momentum-changing touchdown that went a long way in Carencro’s 35-21 home victory.
“We were getting pummeled on that drive,” Duffy said. “They scored on the previous play but got a holding call and then ran that screen. I’d seen it before a couple of times before. The receiver didn’t run the route and I just broke on it and took it to the house. It was a good feeling. I hope to do it again.”
Duffy followed that up with a late fourth-quarter interception — the team’s third overall — to help Carencro (3-1, 1-0) re-establish momentum after a Week 3 loss to St. Thomas More going into Friday’s 3-5A game at Comeaux (2-2, 0-1) at 7 p.m.
Duffy’s performance, which also included six punts for a 43.5-yard average, was indicative of the type of season the 5-foot-10, 185-pound junior has enjoyed since his transition to more of a defensive role.
“He’s really done a good job of playing for us,” Carencro coach Rip Eveland said. “We try and get the best 22 guys on the field. I thought he was going to be a good athlete no matter where we put him. He could have been a running back or wide receiver. It was a situation where he’s a good athlete, and that’s where we could get him on the field.”
Duffy didn’t have the luxury of drawing from past experience to play such a vital position as cornerback because he never played the position.
After transferring from Northside and sitting out last season, Duffy was projected as the team’s backup quarterback to senior Tyler Gaspard.
Eveland wanted to add another athletic cornerback opposite junior D’Ronne Littleton to solidify his secondary and said Duffy was the logical choice.
Duffy got plenty of on-the-job training during the team’s summer workouts that included plenty of 7-on-7 competition to help sharpen his skills.
“It was a hard transition to go from quarterback to starting at DB, but coach talked to me about what I had to do to help the defense win games,” Duffy said.
“After workouts in the summer, I stayed with coach and went over the plays, watched film and worked on my footwork.”
The results for Duffy, who admitted having to shake off pre-game jitters, were astonishing with three interceptions to help key Carencro’s season-opening 20-6 victory over Westgate.
“That was my first real varsity game,” said Duffy, who leads the Bears with five interceptions.
“I remembered some of their plays because I would hear them call them on the sideline. It was also the coach’s game plan that helped me with those interceptions.”
Duffy continues to play quarterback in certain packages Carencro runs to take advantage of his dual-threat ability, having thrown a touchdown and rushed for 48 yards on four carries.
Moreover, Duffy has drawn on his extensive select soccer background to provide Carencro with a solid punting game, maintaining a 40.1-yard average on 21 punts. He’s also had five punts downed inside the 20-yard line with a long punt of 59 yards.
“He’s just a good athlete that’s worked hard and gotten himself ready to play,” Eveland said. “Switching him to corner has turned out great. He’s really helped us out a lot.”