Catholic High-New Iberia coach Brent Indest carries a unique perspective on the history of the Panthers football program.
Not only did he have three brothers who all played quarterback at the school, Indest did the same and graduated in 1984 after a period in which he described the Panthers as “not that good.”
“They were not the greatest of times,” Indest said.
That’s what makes the current state of the program — one Indest has coached for the past two seasons — truly special with Catholic carrying a No. 2 ranking in the Louisiana Sports Writers Association’s Class 2A poll into Friday’s regular-season finale with a 9-0 record against Delcambre.
Not only can the Panthers wrap up a second straight outright District 5-2A title with a victory, they can become only the fourth team in school history to record a 10-0 mark and first in 48 years.
“The media’s playing up the 10-0 thing, and I’m glad they are,” Indest said. “It’s something special, and something I’m glad I could be a part of. It’s a neat achievement.”
Catholic, which started the season ranked second behind Calvary Baptist, received a first-place vote and 115 points to trail No. 1 Many (9-0) and remain ahead of No. 3 Riverside Academy (9-0) by three points.
District 6-2A opponent Opelousas Catholic (8-1) is ranked eighth.
“I’ve stressed this to the kids that it’s not often you get a chance to make history at a school, but we have bigger aspirations than just going 10-0,” Indest said. “To be only the fourth team to do that would make this a big accomplishment.”
District 5-4A leader Teurlings Catholic (7-1) remained No. 2 in the Class 4A poll behind No. 1 Neville (8-1). The Rebels garnered three first-place votes and 121 points, ahead of No. 3 St. Thomas More (8-1) with 106 points.
District 5-4A member Breaux Bridge (6-2), which was idle last week, stayed at No. 8 with Crowley and Rayne both receiving consideration.
Church Point (9-0) and Notre Dame of Crowley (7-2) are once again Nos. 5 and 8, respectively, in Class 3A with Kaplan (7-2), winners of seven straight games, debuting this season at No. 9, while Vermilion Catholic (8-1) is third again in Class 1A.
Catholic was 2-3 after nondistrict play a year ago and Indest wasn’t certain his club could navigate through it again without similar blemishes.
The Panthers, whose average margin of victory has been 38 points, not only handed VC its lone loss (42-14) in the season opener, they defeated Patterson (28-25) and Notre Dame (56-28) — the three teams they lost to last year — and put together the second strongest strength of schedule in Division III.
“I didn’t think there was much of a chance to be 5-0 after the first five,” Indest said. “I was praying for 4-1 and thinking 3-2 wouldn’t be awful. After the Notre Dame win, we talked about going undefeated.”
Catholic’s chances at perfection received a boost three weeks ago when the Panthers rallied from their first halftime deficit of the season for a 42-26 road victory over Opelousas Catholic.
“Losing at halftime to OC was probably the best wake-up call we call we could have got,” Indest said. “Sometimes I think the kids believe offensively we have some kind of magic potion that automatically scores no matter who we played.
“They punched us in the mouth early and we did some uncharacteristic things and really woke us up,” Indest said. “The last six quarters, we’ve really played lights out football.”