Moments after winning the 4x100-meter relay and 400 meters consecutively at the Class 4A outdoor track meet in May, Kendrell Williams described himself as “country.” Because even when Williams is tired, “You can’t stop a country person.”
And if you think the Carencro athlete can’t be stopped on the track or the wrestling mat — he has an individual state championship in that sport too — have you ever seen Williams run the football?
Turns out, Westgate couldn’t stop the junior halfback in Thursday’s regular-season finale at the “Open-Air Cro Dome.” Williams turned in a career-best performance, rushing for 245 yards and four touchdowns on 22 carries, as the Bears (8-2, 3-1) beat the Tigers (7-3, 3-1) 35-17.
Carencro extended its winning streak against Westgate to six games, outscoring the Tigers 21-0 after trailing 17-14 at halftime.
A Carencro victory meant the District 5-4A championship is split between the Bears, Westgate and St. Thomas More, all with one loss in league play. The Tigers beat the Cougars in Week 6, while STM beat Carencro in Week 9.
The Tigers and Bears were ranked sixth and eighth, in the 4A power ratings entering the week. The playoff pairings will be released Sunday.
“I’m extremely happy and elated for these kids,” Carencro coach Tony Courville said. “It started back on Jan. 8 with this program. We talked about it all week long that we had an opportunity. Every week we call a game an ‘opportunity.’ So this was opportunity No. 10 with a little added spice to it with the chance of also being district champions. So I’m happy for them. I’m extremely happy what (this coaching staff) has done with these young men.”
Williams, a 6-foot, 195-pounder with a rare blend of speed and strength, had scoring runs of 75 and 66 yards, with both coming on the first play of drives. The 66-yarder cemented the 18-point victory with 9:27 remaining in the fourth quarter.
“It comes from my brothers and my parents putting it in my ears,” Williams said of his determination. “It’s mentally set in my head. I can’t tired. I gotta do what I gotta do. That the same thing in real life. You gotta do what you gotta do to feed your family, feed yourself. You gotta do what you gotta do. You can’t get tired no matter what happens.”
As a team, the Bears veer offense rolled up 402 yards rushing on 45 attempts, including 99 yards and a touchdown from Lucas Williams. Carencro didn’t attempt a pass.
As effectively as the Bears ran the ball, they wouldn’t have won this game without the defensive adjustments they made at halftime. Carencro trailed 17-14 at intermission, surrendering a pair of touchdown passess to all-state wide receiver Kayshon Boutte. Boutte, an LSU commitment, finished with five catches for 127 yards before leaving with an injury in the fourth quarter.
But most of Boutte’s damage came in the first half, including catching a swing pass on an run-pass option and cutting up field for a 61-yard touchdown. The Bears held the Tigers to a 21-yard field goal from Connor Scott right before halftime, which was critical considering Westgate was set to receive the opening kickoff of the second half.
“That’s a great football team with tremendous athletes,” Courville said. “When they get in space, it’s scary. We (adjusted) the coverage calls (at halftime). We were kind of showing our hand a little bit too early because they would line up and see what we were in. We were kind of tipping our hat a little bit, so we toned it down a little bit.”
From there, the Carencro defense stonewalled the high-flying Westgate offense. Senior defensive end Nicholas Eagins picked up all three of his sacks on back-to-back drives, including one that turned the ball over on downs and another that forced a punt.
“In the first half, I was more reading the tackle, reading his blocks,” Eagins said. “Then in the second half, when I started to get a feel for it, I started using my speed and my hands, and I got there. I got it done.”
Carencro scored after both defensive stops — Lucas' 1-yard run and Kendrell's 66-yard burst on the first play of the ensuing drive.
For as explosive as Kendrell can be in the open field, the bulk of his yardage comes after contact. He often turns short gains into chunk plays by continuing to drive his legs, dragging multiple defenders with him. Courville has previously described Kendrell's style of play as “throwback.”
“I feel like if I get tackled by one person, that’s weak,” Kendrell said. “I can’t get tackled by one person. That’s embarrassing. I’m not the type to get embarrassed — ever.”