By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports
(NOTE – Each Tuesday this season, the SBJ spotlights the staff’s selection as the local “Team of the Week.”)
Even though school was out for the week for Thanksgiving break, Rodney Guin was busy working Monday morning.
And he was very glad to be doing so.
“Yeah, that’s always the mark of success,” the Calvary Baptist head coach said about high school football coaches working during the break.
It’s a mark to which the Cavaliers have become accustomed. Going into this year’s playoffs, Calvary had made 17 playoff appearances with an overall record of 33 wins and 14 losses – including three state championships (Division III titles in 2013 and 2014 and Division IV title in 2020).
Last season, the Cavaliers made it to the semifinals of the Division IV playoffs before falling 40-37 to eventual state runner-up Ouachita Christian.
This week, No. 5-seeded Calvary is preparing for its quarterfinal matchup against No. 4 seed Dunham in the Select Division III playoffs. The Cavs (9-2) will meet the Tigers (10-1) at Dunham Stadium in Baton Rouge Friday night at 7.
After a first-round bye, Calvary faced No. 12-seeded Northlake Christian in last week’s second round. For a team that had outscored its opponents 443-134 prior to last Friday’s game, the Cavs got off to an uncharacteristic slow start.
At the end of the first quarter, the Cavs and Wolverines were tied 0-0. Not the typical start for a Calvary team that had scored 40 or more points in nine of 11 games and 50+ in seven of those matchups.
“We were moving the ball, but turnovers made it a slow start,” Guin said of last week’s game. “We fumbled twice in the red zone and had a guy wide open in the end zone but he dropped it.”
In most cases, turnovers and dropped balls could be a concern for a playoff team. But not this Cavs’ team.
“We haven’t turned the ball over all year long,” said Guin. “I think we may have had one fumble. And dropped balls is not a problem we have. We catch hundreds of balls.”
Guin was right not to worry. Running back James Simon caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Abram Wardell and ran for a 3-yard score. With Wardell’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Aubrey Hermes, Calvary had a 22-0 lead by halftime.
The Cavs added four more touchdowns and a safety in the second half, and the defense held the Wolverines scoreless as Calvary defeated Northlake Christian 52-0.
Simon, who finished the night with two rushing TDs and two receiving TDs, is close to 1,000 rushing this season with 20 TDs and no fumbles. On the season, Wardell has completed 128 of 160 passes for 2,181 yards and 31 TDs. Against Northlake Christian, the sophomore quarterback threw to seven different receivers and four different ones for TDs. Hermes has 9 TD receptions so far with 741 yards on 44 catches.
While Calvary is taking a prolific offense down to Baton Rouge, the Cavs will face a big challenge with an exceptional Tigers’ defense.
“They’re very good,” Guin said of the Wolverines. “They have the best defensive line we’ve faced since Week 2 against Captain Shreve (a 27-14 loss). That’ll be a challenge. The key is for us is being able to block up front. We’ve got to have good line blocking.”
Another challenge for Calvary will be a Dunham offense that has put up 50+ points in each of its last two games (including last week’s 56-21 victory over King Charter in the second round).
“You don’t win deep in the playoffs if you can’t play good defense,” said Guin. “Everybody can score. We’ve got to be able to stop their offense.”
With a defense that has shut out its last three opponents, Calvary is primed for another deep run in the playoffs.
Contact Harriet at firstname.lastname@example.org