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Ascension Episcopal coach Matthew Desormeaux led his Blue Gators to a dominating win over Catholic High on Friday.

The Ascension Episcopal Blue Gators began their 2021 postseason march on a high note on Friday night, defeating the Catholic-New Iberia Panthers 34-6.

After taking an early 7-6 lead, Ascension Episcopal scored the game's final points, cruising to an opening-round win in the Division III state playoffs.

The win was the second this season for the Blue Gators over Catholic-New Iberia, a fellow District 7-2A foe, after downing the Panthers earlier this season 29-0.

Let's take a look at five reasons Ascension Episcopal was victorious on Friday night.

Special Teams

Ascension Episcopal is blessed with two outstanding specialists, in placekicker Peyton Woodring and punter Badger Hargett.

Woodring was especially phenomenal on Friday night, kicking through a 44-yard field goal, before nailing one from 56 yards away, while also being credited with seven touchbacks, giving the opposition no chance to return most kicks, while Hargett has consistently flipped field position most of the year.

"He was just spectacular tonight," Ascension Episcopal head coach Matt Desormeaux said of Woodring. "Kicking a 56-yard field goal, in high school football is almost unheard of. We get the ball to their 40, and he kicks a field goal. That's pretty special.

"It helps so much when he kicks it into the end zone almost every time on his kickoff," Desormeaux said. "Them having one less chance to make a play, and starting deep in their own territory, is so critical to winning the game."

The Blue Gators have as good of special teams as anybody in the state, which means a lot in the playoffs.

Dardar shines

The Ascension Episcopal junior quarterback was outstanding on Friday night, throwing for over 200 yards and three touchdowns, getting back on track, and playing at the level he was mid-season.

"I think he (Dardar) kind of took a step back late in the year," said Desormeaux. "He was just trying to do too much and forcing a few things. We talked about that; worked on it this week, and he got back to where he was.

"We have a lot of confidence in him" Desormeaux continued on Dardar. "When he lets the game come to him is when he's at his best, and he played at a high-level tonight."

Defense steps up

Ascension Episcopal held Catholic-New Iberia to six points on Friday night, and only six points over eight quarters this season. That's tough to do against any playoff team, especially one as talented as the Panthers.

"I think holding them (Cat

holic-New Iberia) tonight is a bigger accomplishment than shutting them out in the first game," Desormeaux said. "They had a couple of key players out in the first game, and playing them a second time is so tough. I'm very proud of the way our defense rose to the occasion tonight."

Winning tradition

Ascension Episcopal has had a lot of playoff success, winning a state title in 2016, before advancing into the second round in two of the last three seasons.

"You have to go into a game thinking you're going to win, and that's something I think our kids have developed over the years," said Desormeaux. "To have that mindset; not being cocky, but just believing that things are going to go your way, is so important to a winning program."

"We had a great week of practice, one of our best weeks of the year," said Desormeaux. "I was pleased with our mindset all week, and the way we came out focused tonight."

LCA next

With the win, the Blue Gators will now have to travel next week to face the top-seeded LCA Knights.

"They (LCA) are as good of a team that you're going to find in any classification," Desormeaux said. "But our guys are going to embrace the challenge and not back down. This group is going to fight to the very end, no matter who they're playing against.

"We like the fact that it will be a relatively short road trip," Desormeaux said of the upcoming drive from Youngsville to Upper Lafayette next week. "Having a 20-30 minute drive doesn't upset a player's preparation like a three-hour trip up to north Louisiana would."

Ascension Episcopal, which is now 6-3 on the season, will certainly have their hands full against LCA next week, but if they play well in all facets of the game like they did in their impressive win over Catholic-New Iberia, then they'll have at least a fighting chance, which is all most teams ask for anyway.