After an unbeaten season dotted with dominant performances, and after a big win the week before in the Division III select playoffs, the magic finally ran out for the Newman Greenies on Friday night.
The No. 3-seeded Catholic-New Iberia Panthers got 378 yards passing from Diallo Landry and bullied the No. 2-seeded Greenies 49-7 to advance to the Division III state championship.
In doing so, the Panthers handed Newman its first loss of the season.
Greenies coach Nelson Stewart was humble after the loss.
“You’ve got to give credit to the other team,” he said. “I know the type of head coach Brent Indest is. It’s so hard to replicate the Wing-T in one week. You have to give them credit tonight being able to throw off play-action and throw deep.
“It’s very clear to me that the two best teams are in the Superdome. I don’t believe in excuses. I’m proud of the year we’ve had and I love Brent like a brother, so if you have to go out and get your tail kicked, I’d prefer to have it be by someone like him.”
As for Indest and the Panthers, they will face No. 1-seeded Notre Dame next week for the Division III state title. Indest said his team had to be at its best to win.
“I think we’re really clicking right now,” he said. “The last two weeks, I really think we’ve beaten two really good football teams. Now they’re not the quality of Notre Dame; we know what Notre Dame’s all about and we’re gonna have to raise it to an even higher level to beat those guys. But I think we did a great job tonight.”
Landry, a three-year starter, threw for three touchdowns on only 14 attempts, and he ran for another score in his best effort of the season. Wide receiver Peter Leblanc made his mark, as well, in four catches for 129 yards and a touchdown. The win marked the third time in three meetings the Panthers have beaten the Greenies on their home field, once in 2014 and again last year.
All three games were blowouts.
While the Panthers are heading to the Superdome, the Greenies will be staying home.
And as for next season, Stewart said he feels confident his team will step up to the task.
“To be ready for next season, we have to be do what we did this year,” he said. “
This was a team that was picked to finish third in district. No one gave us a shot to win this year. So we just have to get back to the weight room and get bigger, faster, stronger.
“We got the wind knocked out of us tonight, but I think when we look back on the year we’ve had, there’s a lot to be proud of this year. So we just have to plug back in and move forward.”