Southside’s 35-16 win over Lafayette High on Friday night has the Sharks at 4-1 in a tough District 3-5A and playing its best football as the regular season winds down.
Sharks coach Josh Fontenot said he is excited about the win, in which the Sharks did not allow Lafayette to score until there were six minutes remaining. Fontenot said his biggest takeaway was the way his team played in the second half.
“We finished,” Fontenot said. “We allowed some touchdowns at the end with our younger guys in the game, but that wasn’t indicative of how we closed that game. I don’t think we have been a very good second-half team this season and we did a great job closing that game.”
The Sharks took a 21-0 lead into halftime. On the opening kickoff of the third quarter, Jaydun Colbert ran 93 yards for a touchdown to put the Sharks up 28-0.
Southside contained Lions quarterback Grayson Saunier, something Fontenot said was a focus of the defense all week.
“Grayson is as good a player as we have in our district,” he said. “We did a good job not allowing him to beat us, and our defense is playing with a lot of confidence right now. We are getting comfortable with playing with each other, and our defense has answered the call every week for us."
Fontenot said his own quarterback, Landon Baptiste, is developing right on schedule. Baptiste, who was a wide receiver last year on Southside’s junior varsity team, distributed the ball to every skill position at least once Friday. Fontenot said his leadership and ability to learn the offense have been impressive.
“Landon is starting to understand all of it,” Fontenot said. “For us in a triple-option flex bone, to be able to distribute the ball around like (we did Friday) is a really good thing. That is a hard thing for a quarterback who has never done this to understand.
“He does a good job of not forcing things and taking what the defense gives him. His mistakes are very fixable, and he is getting a lot more comfortable. For him to progress to where he is right now has been very impressive, and I think his potential is just beginning to be tapped.”
Southside running back Vernel Joseph contributed 97 yards on the ground and three touchdowns.
A lot is made about how tough District 3-5A can be, but Southside is rarely mentioned as part of that conversation. Fontenot said he understands Southside isn’t in that discussion, saying the only thing his team can do to change that is keep winning.
“It’s a traditional district, and I get that,” he said. “These guys have been around for a long time. Nobody knows us, and we changed offenses and so I think a lot of teams brush us off to the side.
“We try to use that to our advantage. I don’t think we have gotten a lot of respect, and I think everyone still looks at us as the new kid who is trying to figure it out. I am happy that our kids embrace it, and I think they play with a chip on their shoulder. I hope we never lose that, but our goal is to win it.
"We don’t want to play Acadiana close. We want to beat them. We want to be winning the district. I understand it doesn’t happen overnight, but right now, I am pretty happy about the state of our program and where we are as a team.”