Zachary has the blueprint to defeat the team boasting the best running back in Louisiana.
They wrote it nearly a year ago, and it doesn’t appear to be all that complicated. But is it strong enough to stop not only Louisiana’s top tailback, but possibly the best in the country?
At the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in the 2017 Class 5A state championship game against Hahnville, the Broncos surrendered 210 yards and a touchdown on 36 carries to Anthony “Pooka” Williams, the top-ranked running back in the state’s 2018 recruiting class.
Zachary also forced four turnovers while holding Williams to nearly half his yards per carry average (10.5) he had amassed entering the Superdome. The current Kansas freshman was held to a single breakout play, his 26-yard touchdown run for the game’s first points before Zachary scored 27 unanswered in the first half of their 34-14 victory.
Yeah, Hahnville had Pooka.
Keep the star back contained while preventing the opposing offense from attacking through the air.
Jump on the board quickly.
That recipe gave the Broncos their second Class 5A title in three years, but Friday’s test against Destrehan senior tailback John Emery appears even tougher.
Emery, who earlier this month pledged to LSU, enters hot off a 217-yard, four-touchdown performance to give the second-seeded Wildcats a 31-14 win over No. 7 Terrebonne in the quarterfinals.
If it sounds like you have heard this before, it's because you have.
On the season, Emery has tallied 1,617 yards and 24 touchdowns rushing. He averages 124.4 yards per game. In comparison, Williams netted 207.9 yards per gam a year ago. From those stats alone, you could argue Hahnville needed their elite back to do more to grind out each win and carry them to state. Emery’s numbers in the Wildcats’ biggest games this sason don’t lie.
The senior racked up 118 yards rushing in a 37-35 loss to fellow 5A semifinalist John Ehret. Emery compiled just 49 yards rushing for two scores, but picked up 130 receiving yards and another touchdown in a 49-20 regular season win over Terrebonne.
Emery needed just 114 yards and two scores on 23 carries for Destrehan (12-1) to pull out a late thriller 31-26 against Landry-Walker in the second round, and Emery hit 95 yards and a touchdown in a 22-0 shutout of Hammond in the opening round.
But with just an average game by his standards, the Wildcats will need a spark from senior quarterback Harold Blood Jr., who averaged 181 yards passing per game in the regular season to go with 25 touchdowns and just six interceptions. In the postseason, Blood’s passing average has dropped to 125.3 yards per game, while throwing just a single touchdown.
Like everyone else, the Destrehan Wildcats celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday — adding a hefty helping of donuts after their morning practice.
“I think we kind of dodged a bullet here,” Destrehan Stephen Robicheaux said about his passing attack after his team’s quarterfinal win. “I thought our defense played well throughout the night, but we didn’t play as well offensively.”
Destrehan will also face the difficulty of getting over the playoff hump in recent years. The Wildcats fell in the second round a year ago and lost in the semifinals as the top seed in 2016. Their last state championship appearance came in 2014, a loss to Acadiana. The Wildcats last won a title in 2008.
Emery hasn’t been afraid to speak about the missing line on his impressive high school football rèsumè. His last chance to play in the Superdome rides not only on his performance Friday in his final home game, but on how his teammates supplement his workload against Zachary (11-2), which is used to playing under pressure, led by junior quarterback Keilon Brown, who averaged more than 240 yards of total offense per game this regular season with 32 total touchdowns.
“I’ve been in this situation before,” Emery said after Friday’s win. “I’ve already had this feeling, so I’m still hungry.
“Actually, as a team, we’re all hungry. We’re trying to get to the Dome.”
John Emery Sr., father of star running back John Emery Jr., opened up about his son's landmark commitment to LSU on Wednesday afternoon on 104…