Four local/area teams cracked the 60-point barrier in Week 1 of the football regular season, including two Class 5A teams, Catholic High and Scotlandville.
Mention 68 points and Albany High and fans familiar with the Class 3A Livingston Parish school are likely to assume it was a basketball game, not football.
“When you score 68 points, I guess it does increase the expectations,” second-year coach Mike Janis said. “We did some good things and some people were impressed. We have some goals this season. I made it a point to remind our guys there are things we didn’t do well and areas where we need to improve.”
Still, with a 68-44 victory over Independence, the Hornets made a statement not everyone expected. The objective now is to build on that win. Albany (1-0) comes takes on Class 4A St. Michael (0-1) at 7 p.m. Friday at Olympia Stadium.
In order to accomplish their goals, the Hornets must do something they could not do last year when they finished 6-5 — win a district game — and something the school has never done — win a football playoff game.
Independence opened the scoring with a 94-yard kickoff return. Albany did not panic. The Hornets leaned on the experience of multiple three-year starters.
Quarterback J.J. Doherty started the game 1-for-6, but finished 7 of 11, including touchdown passes of 61 and 59 yards to Rhett Wolfe. J.J. Doherty also had TD runs of 60 and 4 yards. His brother, Dae Dae Doherty, added two TD runs.
Wolfe, a 5-foot-8, 147-pound defensive back/wide receiver, was the Albany’s version of the Energizer bunny. He had more than 100 receiving yards 100 punt/kick return yards, including an 80-yard kickoff return for a TD.
“I don’t like being out of the game,” Wolfe said. “Playing on offense, defense and special teams gives me more ways to contribute. I thought we started kind of slow.
"But we played better in the second half last week … which is when we started to trust each other to make plays. That is what we need to do — focus and rely on each other.”
Janis credited defensive coordinator Dennis Knight’s halftime adjustments. Albany outscored Class 2A Independence 26-0 in the third quarter to break the game open.
St. Michael offers a different, but not totally unfamiliar challenge. The two teams scrimmaged for a few years, including last year. Janis and St. Michael coach Joey Sanchez agreed a nondistrict matchup would be a good fit for each team.
The Warriors' triple option attack will be a new test for the Albany defense as the Hornets look to build toward the District 8-3A schedule.
“I wouldn’t be surprised by any of the teams in our district winning it,” Janis said. “Hannan is good and they won it last year. Last year was an aberration for Loranger … they’ll be solid. Sumner has improved so much over the last two to three years and Bogalusa is so athletic.
“We have experience and talent to compete. To reach our goals, we have to win in district. Last week was a win and we’re happy to take it. This game is the next step.”