By JERRY BYRD, Journal Sports
Jesuit-New Orleans head coach Ryan Manale expected his Blue Jays to have to overcome some adversity in the LHSAA playoffs, but he didn’t think it would come before kickoff in his team’s first-round Division I Select playoff game against the Huntington Raiders.
“We were supposed to come in three buses,” Manale said. “We got here in two. And we were an hour late getting to Shreveport.”
No matter. The Blue Jays rolled the Raiders 45-9 in front of a handful of spectators on a cold and soggy night at Lee Hedges Stadium, blasting out to a 35-point halftime lead.
On the fourth play of the game, Huntington’s quarterback Jamarion Washington ran the ball up the middle of the Jesuit defense for 63 yards and set up a Dany Cuat 21-yard field goal.
Jesuit answered with an eight-play drive which ended with a Patrick Berrigan 1-yard touchdown run to take a 7-3 lead.
After a 30-yard run by John Solomon on Huntington’s next possession, Washington was picked off by Jesuit’s Nick Jacobs.
The Blue Jays put the ball in the hands of running back Jaron Duplesis and Berrigan. Duplesis carried the ball for 27 yards on three touches before Berrigan took over and added 16 more yards on three carries. Jesuit quarterback Beau Perez then found Hollis McDaniel for a 9-yard touchdown pass with 1:03 left in the first quarter as Jesuit led 14-3.
Jesuit kicker Aidan Corbello was good on his second consecutive point after attempt before demonstrating his versatility with a sky kick, which was fumbled by the Huntington return team and recovered by Jesuit’s Tucker Schibler.
The Blue Jays got as far as the Huntington 6, but the Raider defense stiffened and Jesuit had to settle for a 32-yard Corbello field goal to build a 17-3 edge.
Special teams miscues continued throughout the remainder of the first half for the Raiders, who struggled to punt the football. Those were unforced errors on Huntington’s part which allowed Jesuit to have short fields.
Perez found Jace Larsen on a third-down 21-yard touchdown pass with 8:16 to go in the first half to give the Blue Jays a 24-3 lead.
Jesuit scored two more touchdowns – a two-yard Jasper Parker run and another touchdown pass from Perez to Harry Reinhardt with 12 seconds left in the half. The Blue Jays led 38-3.
“He did a great job of managing the offense,” Manale said. “Our guys executed and made plays in all three phases of the game early. It’s always good to advance and win playoff games.”
In the second half, Berrigan scored on 14-yard touchdown run, and the Jesuit coaching staff began mass substitutions.
Huntington’s only other score came on 32-yard yard John Solomon run with 9:30 left in the game.
“I told our kids I was proud of the way they came out in the second half and played hard,” Huntington head coach Stephen Dennis said. “I told them at halftime I wanted them to play hard for the next 24 minutes and be able to look themselves in the mirror after it was over. And they did that. I also told them that it is a privilege to be their coach.”
As for Huntington’s season, which comes to an end at 6-5?
“I am proud of what we accomplished,” said Dennis, whose Raiders were seeded 14th to the No. 19 seed of Jesuit. “It’s hard to lose one of the best quarterbacks in the state and try to replace that amount of offense.”
Dennis was referring to Huntington’s Kam Evans, who has been out with a shoulder injury for the last three weeks.
The Blue Jays advance to face a familiar foe, John Curtis in the second round. Jesuit, 5-6, suffered a Week 4 loss, 28-10, to the Patriots on Sept. 23.
The outcome may be a little different this time around.
“You want to be playing your best football at the end of the season,” Manale said. “And I think we are doing that right now.”
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Jesuit 45, Huntington 9
Score by quarters
Jesuit | 14 | 24 | 7 | 0 | – 45
Huntington |3 | 0 | 0 | 6 | – 9
H – Danny Cuat 21 FG
J – Joashua Washington 3 run (Aidan Corbello kick)
J – Hollis McDaniel 9 pass from Beau Perez (Corbello kick)
J – Corbello 32 FG
J – Jace Larsen 17 pass from Perez (Corbello kick)
J – Jasper Parker 2 run (Corbello kick)
J – Harry Reinhardt 13 pass from Perez (Corbello kick)
J – Patrick Berrigan 14 run (Joseph Barber kick)
H – John Solomon 32 run (pass failed)
Jesuit (35-158) – Jaron Duplesis 12-73, Berrigan 9-69, Parker 6-12.
Huntington (16-117) – Jamarion Washington 3-63, Solomon 4-43, Lorenzo White 3-17, Jamarion Mims 3-8.
Jesuit – Perez 7-11-0, 83 yards.
Huntington (9-19-2, 80 yards) – White 7-14-2, 76 yards; Washington 2-5-0, 4 yards.
Jesuit – Reinhardt 2-33, Jace Larsen 2-24, Jason Thompson 1-11, Hollis McDaniel 1-9, Washington 1-6.
Huntington – Tre Carter 6-40, Solomon 2-33, Jarvis Davis 1-7.