A week after coach Dale Weiner earned his 300th career win, Catholic High is still soaring.
Junior running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire amassed 318 total yards with three touchdowns, the defense forced four turnovers and the Bears cruised to a 34-6 win against East Ascension on Friday night at Olympia Stadium in the District 5-5A opener for both squads.
“We wanted to establish ourselves and execute, and I like the way we started,” Weiner said. “You always want to start off district 1-0.”
CHS (4-2, 1-0) couldn’t convert a 35-yard field goal on the opening drive, but it soon received a spark from its defense and special teams.
On the ensuing drive, EAHS (2-4, 0-1) converted on fourth-and-inches from its own 29-yard line only to settle for a punt four plays later. But junior punter Cale Kernan couldn’t handle a poor snap, and the Bears swarmed to recover the fumble inside the 10-yard line.
Senior quarterback Ian Brian hit Edwards-Helaire on a short pass, and the running back took it the rest of the way to put CHS up 7-0 midway through the first quarter.
On the next drive, senior defensive back Daniel Guilbeau picked off a pass from Spartans senior quarterback Kyran Irvin to give the Bears possession just outside the red zone. Edwards-Helaire took a handoff around right end for a 20-yard touchdown as CHS took a 14-point lead.
“It can make it really tough when you give a team the football in scoring position,” Weiner said. “But the biggest thing is you take advantage of it and don’t squander the opportunity.”
Later in the quarter, a poor punt from EAHS gave the Bears great field position once again, this time at their own 42. But a holding penalty pushed CHS back and forced a punt, which junior cornerback Cameron Simon returned for 43 yards.
The Spartans seemed poised to finally strike, but their drive stalled after a pair of drops by sophomore receiver Raekwon Mackyeon.
EAHS had another golden opportunity to score following an interception by senior safety Johnny Baker on a tipped ball. Irvin used his feet to get all the way down to the 2-yard line, where he was smacked by several defenders, resulting in a fumble.
Both offenses were stagnant until less than three minutes in the half, when Brian led the Bears on a 73-yard drive that ended in a 27-yard field goal from junior kicker Parker Fontenot. Edwards-Helaire had catches of 28 and 29 yards during the drive.
Irvin gained 64 rushing yards on the next possession but was forced out of bounds at the 5-yard line as time expired.
“It’s disappointing that we just didn’t play as good as we can play,” EAHS coach Paul Bourgeois said. “Catholic is a very good football team, and it’s very tough to beat them. But when you’re not playing as good as you are, you don’t know what you can do.”
Senior receiver Lamarcus Jefferson ripped off a 60-yard kickoff return to begin the second half, and Irvin scored on a 35-yard run on the first play of the Spartans’ drive. The Bears blocked sophomore kicker Louise Guidiana’s extra-point attempt and didn’t surrender another point the rest of the way.
CHS immediately responded with a long scoring drive capped by Brian’s 4-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Blair Bogan.
After an EAHS punt pinned the Bears at their own 2, Edwards-Helaire took it 98 yards on the next play to seal the win. He finished with 222 rushing yards at a rate of 14.8 yards per carry (and he had another 41-yard rushing score called back because of holding).
Fontenot capped the scoring with another 27-yard field goal with just less than nine minutes remaining. Irvin ran for 173 yards and threw for another 28, but the Bears defense kept the Spartans out of sync all night.
“They moved us up front and kept us mixed up on our inside game, which we usually are very good on,” Bourgeois said. “Once we didn’t have an inside game, we tried to go outside, and that’s when Kyran and Bates had some bigger runs. We had a hard time passing the ball tonight. Just bad passing, interceptions, bad route-running.”