Silliman knocked out in playoff quarterfinal

On a weekend where an LSU Tiger win over the Alabama Crimson Tide filled the entire state of Louisiana with immeasurable joy, the Silliman Wildcat hopeful saw their season end in heartbreaking fashion.

In a quarterfinal rematch with rival Adams County Christian School, Silliman unfortunately fell short, being eliminated from the MAIS playoffs. That’s not to say that the Wildcats didn’t leave every ounce of sweat out on that field, it just was not their night.

The game started slow with a defensive battle in the trenches. It started so slow in fact that nobody even sniffed the goal line in the first quarter, leading to a scoreless stalemate heading into the second quarter.

You could feel that the first team to make a mistake would be the one forced to play catch up for the remainder of the game, and that is exactly what happened when the Wildcats were pinned down deep in their own territory to start a drive in the early bits of the second quarter.

A well-timed blitz from Adams County combined with a poor decision getting rid of the ball led to an interception near the goal line which was brought in for a touchdown. The Rebels of ACCS then successfully completed a two-point conversion, bringing the score to 8-0 in their favor.

The Rebels got the ball back near the end of the second quarter and drove down into the red zone. A massive sack by Wildcats senior linebacker Nathan Mock seemingly halted the Rebels momentum, but they would score again afterward. Another two-point conversion was successful, putting the Wildcats behind 16-0.

With less than 20 seconds left in the first half, the Rebels caught the Wildcats off guard with an onside kick, getting the ball back for one last heave at the end zone before halftime. That attempted play broke down, leading ACCS to run the ball and drain the clock, ending the first half of play.

The second half is where things got a bit tricky. The Wildcats received the ball to open the second half, and began driving down the field behind the arm and legs of Brock Berthelot. Unfortunately, the momentum would be stopped near midfield as the Wildcats were forced to punt.

Things got chaotic in the following ACCS drive. It looked as if the Wildcats had forced a fumble, but in a controversial call, referees decided the runner was down before the ball came loose.

However, that call became immediately unimportant as Silliman had issues far graver to deal with on the field. Two Rebels were shaken up on the play, but it was later revealed that DJ Stampley, the star senior of that ACCS team, was injured.

That injury caused a nearly hourlong break in play, seemingly causing the momentum to immediately shift back into Silliman’s favor in the ensuing drives. After forcing the Rebels to punt, Brock Berthelot once again led his team down the field, making multiple incredible plays out of thin air.

Then came one of the craziest throws and catches I have ever seen in a high school football game. Berthelot put the ball on the money to his receiver who somehow got his toes down in bounds for the Wildcat touchdown. Unfortunately, the referees would come back into play, calling the play back because of an ineligible receiver downfield for the Wildcats.

However, Berthelot made magic again to get the Wildcats inside the 10-yard line. A breakdown in blocking on the following first down led to a sack and second and 24 for the offense. It still felt like momentum was on the side of Silliman until the ball was intercepted and seemingly brought all the way back by the Rebels. A penalty after the catch brought them back into their own territory, but you could feel that the momentum was back with ACCS and that it would likely stay there for the remainder of the contest.

Sure enough, it did. The Rebels drained the clock on the ensuing drive, capping it off with a touchdown run. The PAT was good, and the Rebels were up 23-0 in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter.

A big kick return injected some life back into the Wildcats as they drove down the field to pick up their first points of the game on short catch and run by Jack Jackson. The Wildcats went for two on a fake PAT attempt, but were stuffed. The score was 23-6, with the Wildcats still behind by three scores with less than five minutes left in the game.

An onside kick attempt was recovered by the Rebels, and that was essentially the end. The Wildcats forced a punt and got the ball back, but were left with only two and a half minutes to score three times. A final interception by the Rebels ended the game.

Overall, this is a season that Silliman should be nothing but proud of. To go 8-2 in the regular season, win the district, and earn a first-round bye only a year after finishing 6-5 is unheard of. Props to the team and head coach TJ Davis for that. I had a couple of big takeaways from the game. The first is that bad blocking and missed assignments killed almost every Silliman drive. That brings me to my next takeaway which is that Brock Berthelot is a special player. You couldn’t count the amount of times where he was flushed out of the pocket and made great plays out of absolutely nothing. We know he’s more well-known for his baseball prowess, but he deserves respect for how he played in this game and all season. The same goes for Jack Jackson and all the other seniors on this team. It was a job well done boys.

Around the Felicianas

Elsewhere in the Felicianas, East Feliciana picked up a huge win over rival Northeast High School, dominating in a 44-8 performance. They move to 5-4 on the season, and now look to finish the regular season on a high note with a home nondistrict game against General Trass High School from Lake Providence.

Slaughter Charter fought valiantly in a loss against district powerhouse Southern Lab, moving to 2-7 on the season. They will also finish the regular season next week, taking on Homer High School in a nondistrict game.

Finally, West Feliciana put up a fantastic fight in their regular season finale against Madison Prep. They lost 35-21 against the district opponent, but keep in mind that Madison Prep has been nearly unstoppable this season. The Saints gave them all they could handle in this game, and they should be incredibly proud of that. They finish a tough regular season 2-8, but hopefully, we will see them build off this game and continue to improve going forward.

Joel Robinson covers sports for The Democrat and The Watchman. To share tips about area sports news, email extra@theadvocate.com