The Acadiana Wreckin' Rams have been plowing through District 3-5A opponents with a suffocating defense led by Kaden Anderson.
Over the past four weeks, the Rams (5-2, 4-0) shut down the rushing attacks of New Iberia (16 yards), Comeaux (108), Southside (110) and Sulphur (51).
In last week's 42-0 win over New Iberia, Acadiana allowed 0.64 yards per carry. Anderson, a 6-foot-4, 245-pound defensive end, had 13 tackles (seven solo), four tackles for losses, two sacks, two quarterback hurries and a fumble recovery.
"The coaches really kept pushing me," said Anderson, who has scholarship offers from Louisiana-Monroe, Arkansas State, Houston Baptist and Mercer.
Although the two-time Class 5A champions lost two of three games to start the year, the defense had allowed only 41 total points heading into district play. Regardless, Anderson decided it was time for the team to hit the reset button.
"We definitely had a talk after the loss to (Lafayette Christian)," he said of the 14-13 loss to the Knights in Week 3. "We started really focusing."
Since then, the Rams are allowing only 2.84 yards per carry, and that statistic includes the efforts of back-up defenders in blowout games.
"I love how we're playing," said Anderson, who is flanked at the other end by Alabama commitment Walter Bob. "Walter is very good at being aware. He sees what is going on at all times. My strength is my motor. I'm always able to have energy, no matter the down or quarter."
Acadiana, ranked No. 5 in Class 5A, hosts Sam Houston (2-4, 1-3) at 7 p.m. Friday.
"Kaden is a very smart, tough kid who has worked extremely hard to become the player he is," defensive line coach Clay Courtier said. "His versatility allows us to play him inside and at end. He's one of my favorite players I've ever coached."
Blue Gators battling
Ascension Episcopal lost 33-31 to Southern Lab last week, but there's more to the story.
The Blue Gators trailed 26-0 at halftime and 33-10 with 5:45 remaining in the game before coach Matt Desormeaux's team staged a furious comeback.
"I challenged our guys at the half," Desormeaux said. "I told them I didn't care about the score. I just wanted to win the second half."
In the final minutes of the game, the Blue Gators recovered one onside kick, narrowly missed recovering another, made a field goal, missed a field goal and had a potential game-tying 2-point conversion pass tipped away in the end zone.
"Our guys battled," Desormeaux said. "They never gave up. In our two losses this year (to Lafayette High and Southern Lab), we competed the right way."
The Blue Gators (5-2, 3-0 District 7-2A) host Franklin (4-2, 3-1) and quarterback Zylan Perry at 7 p.m. Friday. In Franklin's 47-42 Week 4 loss to Loreauville, Perry completed 7 of 9 passes for 195 yards and rushed for 189 yards and three TDs.
"Franklin is similar to Southern Lab in that they're big up front," Desormeaux said. "The quarterback (Perry) is a phenomenal athlete. If we bottle him up, we have a good chance to win. We can't let him run wild, or it's going to be a long night."
Rayne riding youth
Rayne (4-3, 2-0 District 4-4A) will be going for its fifth straight win Friday at home against LaGrange (0-7, 0-1).
The Wolves lost their first three games to teams having banner seasons in Avoyelles (6-1) Cecilia (5-2) and Church Point (7-0). Coach Kaine Guidry said he started seeing a spark in his team in the Church Point game.
"We were in that game until the fourth quarter," he said. "It can be tough to get kids to buy in, especially when you're 0-3, so credit our staff for hanging in there and believing."
Guidry has several underclassmen standing out, including junior quarterback Dylan Judice, junior running back Darian Chevalier, sophomore RB/DB Joseph Emilien and freshman receiver Kylin Wheeler.
Last week, Emilien carried eight times for 153 yards and a TD in a 51-21 win over North Vermilion. He also returned an interception for a touchdown. Wheeler caught three passes for 153 yards and two TDs.
"I think these young kids just needed some game reps and they eventually got the reps," Guidry said. "You don't want to put a freshman in a bad situation and ruin his confidence, so we eased Wheeler in at the jamboree. After he caught a touchdown, I looked at one of my coaches and said, 'We got something here.' "