NEW IBERIA — Propelled by fullback Tray Henry, Catholic-New Iberia collected its third straight district championship with a 48-22 win over visiting Franklin on Thursday.
Henry rushed for five touchdowns while racking up 216 total yards.
"I just come out every week and play my hardest," Henry said. "I've progressed since I was a freshman by believing in my talents, trusting in my teammates and putting in work during the summer."
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound senior scored the game's first two touchdowns for the Panthers (7-3, 7-0 in District 7-2A).
"When we got Tray as a freshman, he was about 75% of what he is now," Catholic coach Brent Indest said. "His sophomore and junior year, he really just stayed right there. He didn't grow much and didn't get much faster, but he had a growth spurt and found another gear before this season.
"He has close to 1,500 yards on the year, and that's with rarely playing in the second half of a whole lot of games. He definitely didn't play in the fourth quarter of any of our district games."
Franklin (5-5, 5-2) cut the deficit to 14-8 on a 69-yard scramble from quarterback Zylan Perry with 8:16 remaining in the first half.
"(Perry) had 153 yards rushing at the half," Indest said. "We did so many good things defensively with our pass rush. We're doing a good job of blitzing the quarterback. We made a lot of great plays, but we gave up a lot of big plays.
"We did it against Jeanerette last week, but it was in the passing game. We gave up two plays over 70 yards last week and two plays over 60 yards this week. That's going to win tonight, but that's not going to beat St. Charles Catholic. That's not going to beat Notre Dame. That's not going to beat Newman. It's not going to beat Dunham. We have to fix that."
Trailing 27-8 late in the second quarter, Franklin drove to the Catholic 1-yard line, but the Hornets were stopped on fourth down.
"The goal-line stand was huge," Indest said. "I told the kids that we kind of took it out of them right there. If they score right there, they're coming out in the second half ready to punch us in the mouth."
Quarterback Trey Amos and wingback KK Reno combined for 216 yards rushing and two scores for the Panthers. Amos also completed a 40-yard pass to Henry.
"KK doesn't get the ball as much as Trey and Tray, but the threat of him getting the ball not only in the run game but also in the passing game ... it opens up things," Indest said. "KK is doing what (UL wide receiver) Peter LeBlanc did for us last year.
"He keeps guys off of us. Even when Peter wasn't hurting you (with big plays), he was hurting you because of the potential things he can do."
With the playoffs starting next week, Indest wants his team to focus on not giving up big plays.
"Sometimes we're losing integrity with our pass rush," the Catholic coach said. "We need to make plays in space. What's scary is that we might not be athletic enough.
"That's what scares you the most. That we're just not athletic enough to do it, but you have to keep on working and try to sharpen up and make those plays."
On defense, the Panthers have benefited from the production of three seniors.
"All year long, Chris Landry at Will linebacker, Nicholas Borne at strong safety and Trey Amos at corner have been big," Indest said. "Trey has been thrown at like once during district. He's like (LSU defensive back Derek) Stingley.
"I'm not saying he's just like Stingley, but I don't think he's given up a pass reception in district. He's so quiet because nobody throws at him. I call it the 'Deion Sanders effect,' the way he takes away the other team's best guy."