Ascension Catholic fans are eager to head back to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and support the Bulldogs against Lafayette Christian at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, but are experiencing deja vu.
The opponent is the same, the day is the same, the time is the same — the one thing that the Bulldog Nation is hoping will be different is the result in round 2 of the Division 4 state championship.
Lafayette Christian won 10-0 last year in a game that was filled with injuries for Ascension Catholic, including two key players being injured in a car wreck the day before the game.
“We have moved on from last season's championship game and the unfortunate breaks we had occur," coach Drey Trosclair said. "This is a new season. We are excited about the opportunity to play for another state championship."
The Bulldogs (12-1) returned all but three starters from last year and were poised to return to New Orleans.
“We are senior/junior-laden this time, with outstanding leadership," Trosclair said. "The kids started the preparation last January and never wavered."
LCA (13-0) is back with the majority of its starters from its championship team, including quarterback Zach Clement, who missed last year's game with an injury. Clement has thrown for 1,800 yards and 34 touchdowns, and rushed for 9 more. Running back Logan Gabriel has rushed for 1,600 yards and 40 total touchdowns. Top receivers include Sage Ryan, Errol Rogers Jr. and Victor Dupre.
The Knights have a special teams weapon in kicker and punter Colin LaHaye. The defense has recorded 11 shutouts and has given up a total of 41 points. Leaders on the defense include top tacklers Martin Lee (67), Nicholas Picard (87), Princeton Malburn (80), Drake Woodson (76) and Dillon Borel (50). LCA is coached by former LSU football standout Trev Faulk.
“LCA returns several good players from last season, they are explosive on offense and have a strong defense plus good special teams," Trosclair said. "This will be a challenge for us."
Ascension Catholic finished as the district runner-up with a signature win over Kentwood, which will play for the 1A state championship. The Bulldogs are led by running back Jai Williams, who has rushed for 2,668 yards and 32 touchdowns. Jamar Barber follows with 993 yards and 14 touchdowns. Reserve Dorian Barber has 491 yards and six touchdowns.
“Jai has had a special season; he has improved so much from last season," Trosclair said. “Jamar was banged up early but has started to become the player we expected this season."
The quarterback position has produced 1,500 yards passing with 22 touchdowns, plus seven more rushing touchdowns. “Rodney (Blanchard) and John (Mire) have shared the job," Trosclair said. "They pull for each other and are unselfish; they have had solid seasons."
Wide receivers Tre Medine, Eric Simon, Alex Hebert, Demontray Harry and Mire/Blanchard have caught a combined 20 touchdowns led by Medine, with six.
“Our receivers catch the ball well, but take pride in blocking. They are a big reason for our rushing success," Trosclair said.
The offensive line is led by Dillion Davis (270), Jacob Matirne (260) and Nick Hillard (290).
“We returned three starters with Nick, Dillion and Jacob; our two guards have stepped up (Alex Gros and Sam Mire), this group has been solid all year," Trosclair said.
The Bulldog defense has turned in some impressive performances this season; it will certainly be tested against an explosive LCA offense. Defensive end John Broussard has led up front with 116 tackles, 27 tackles for losses and nine sacks. Defensive end Dillion Davis has five sacks and faced double teams most of the season. Nick Hilliard and J’Mond Tapp have shared time at nose guard, each providing pressure.
The linebackers have had great seasons and have led in tackles, which includes Andrew Landry (148), Parker Hales (121) and Jai Williams (95). Defensive backs Brock Acosta, Rodney Blanchard, Jamar Barber, Mason Zeringue, Tre Medine and Eric Simon have combined for 17 interceptions, led by Acosta with six.
“Our defense will be challenged; they must continue to gang tackle and execute our game plan," Trosclair said. Ascension Catholic has a special teams weapon as well in punter and kicker Rodney Blanchard.
LCA beat Southern Lab and Ascension Catholic beat Vermillion Catholic to get to the state championship game, four teams from two districts. This game will come down to turnovers and big plays. The team that can limit both of those will likely win a state championship.
“We have another opportunity to bring home the trophy we wanted last season," Trosclair said. "It’s a big challenge against an opponent we respect, but one that we look forward to, we have prepared well, time to go play."
Listen to the Bulldogs in the state championship on the Bulldog Network through its Facebook page; pregame begins at 2:30 p.m.
Ascension Parish volleyball
The All-District selections in Ascension Parish volleyball are:
- Patrick Ricks, of Dutchtown High School, volleyball coach of the year in Division 1, District 4.
- Diamond Jones, of East Ascension High School, most valuable player on offense.
- Kirsten Savoy, of St. Amant High School, most valuable player on defense.
Members of the All-District first team are:
- Gracie Duplechein, St. Amant
- Kirstin Savoy, St. Amant
- Zoe Wooten, Dutchtown
- India Bennett, Dutchtown
- Truli Joseph, East Ascension
- Diamond Jones, East Ascension
- Londyn Brown, East Ascension
Members of the All-District second team are:
- Abby LeBourgeois, East Ascension
- Lauren Landry, Dutchtown
- Madison Lee, Dutchtown
- Megan Benoit, St. Amant
- Aubrey Dwane, St. Amant
- Elaina Anderson, St. Amant
- Olivia Rome, St. Amant
In Division 4, District 3, Quinntryce Bell, of Donaldsonville High School, is a member of the All-District first team.
In Division 5, District 3, Janelle Leonard, of Ascension Catholic, is coach of the year, and Catherine Rome, of Ascension Catholic, is MVP. The All-District first team includes Isabelle Abadie, Lauren Landry and Catherine Rome, of Ascension Catholic. The All-District second team includes Emme Medine and Catherine Villa, of Ascension Catholic.
Ascension Catholic boys cross country
In last week's column, Hunter Walker was omitted from the overall state cross country race finishers for Ascension Catholic. Walker, a senior, finished 18th overall in the 1A boys race for Ascension Catholic. Ascension Sports regrets the error.