By Ashley Froust
The Battle of the Red has been a part of Natchitoches Parish football for over a decade. This year Lakeview and St. Mary’s faced each other at Turpin Stadium Friday, Sept. 1 for their week one game, officially starting their seasons. After four quarters of aggressive ball play the Tigers came out on top with a 51-0 score.
“It was a tough one,” said Lakeview head coach Byron Keller. “St. Mary’s came out to play. They are really aggressive up front and it caused problems for us early in the game. We could never get a drive really going. Gotta give credit to Coach Aldredge and his staff who are working really hard.”
“The score is not indicative of how we played,” said St. Mary’s head coach Corwyn Aldredge after the game. “We were a little bit raggedy inside but I tell you, Lakeview is such a scrappy group; you don’t want to let them hang around. Coach Keller is doing a fantastic job with those kids. If he gets the opportunity to hang around in the third quarter and they start believing they are in it, we’d have a fight on our hands. We knew we would have to shut them down and put them away early.”
St. Mary’s attacked quickly in the game putting in seven touchdowns in the first half. A nearly 30-yard pass by Howell started off the game with intensity and was later followed by a touchdown run by Matt Nelson. “Our kids played well,” said Aldredge. “The kids had a good night. They played hard from the start all the way to the end.” A short time later, Nelson ran in a 54-yard return for a touchdown and Parker Bankston hit his extra point kick. With a 25 yard pass from Howell to Bailey Shelton brought the Tigers from the 48 to the 10. A quarterback sneak on the third down gave the Tigers their third touchdown with 13 seconds left in the first quarter. The Gators struggled to put together runs with the aggressive defense from the Tigers, but Keller encouraged his team with these words- “Play with heart. Keep fighting until the final second” and fight they did.
In the second quarter Tigers Shelton and Howell connected a touchdown pass after recovering a short kickoff at the Gator-18. A few plays later, Gator Marcus Sowell recovered a fumble at the Gator-43. The Gators were starting to adjust to the Tigers’ speed until Slade Bienvenu ran in a touchdown and Bankston hit his mark for the extra point. A huge pass from D’Mondre Young to Jordan Hardy gained the Gators about 40 yards with about four minutes left in the half. However, going for it on the fourth down resulted in an interception by St. Mary’s Bienvenu for a nearly 60-yard touchdown run down the sideline. On the Gator’s return, the ball was lost and recovered by Shelton for another touchdown and Bankston made the extra pointer.
“We had a couple players that really put together some good plays. Dwaelon Shepherd, Marcus Sowell and (Jaylen) Triplet-Bell ran that ball,” said Keller.
In the second half, St. Mary’s put in their secondary squads. An interception at the beginning of time by Bienvenu led to another large touchdown run for the Tigers. St. Mary’s was quick to push back on the approaching Gator offense, limiting their options. In the third quarter, Layton Friday of the Gators was injured. Medics believe it is a possible separated shoulder but they will not know for certain until he is able to have an x-ray tomorrow.
The fourth quarter did not see any scoring, but had many peak moments. In the first few plays, Lance Delacerda recovered the ball off a fumble at the Gators-40. Later St. Mary’s Jace Nobles recovered off a fumble in the Gators-20. The Gators held the Tigers between 10 and goal, taking over at their 6-yard-line and continued to push through them gaining a bit of yardage each time. “My hat goes off to them,” said Aldredge. “They battled all the way through.”
“It’s just one of those things. We just didn’t have enough to get the job done,” said Keller. “We just have to focus on getting better next week. We are still in the phases were we need to get better; need to get better at the fundamentals and techniques. We just have to strive to get to that (St. Mary’s) level.”
“The seniors really led us right out front tonight and that was huge. Of course, Aaron (Howell), Slade (Bienvenu), Bailey (Shelton), Wes (Manuel) and those big linemen- the Thibodeauxs, (Jeremy) Friedel and (Damon) LeGrande. The whole lot of them; they did an unbelievable job up front. Clayton Jackson was in their backfield so much I thought they would give him the ball for a while,” said Aldredge.
The Lakeview Gators will face Logansport Friday, Sept. 8 at home with kickoff at 7 p.m.
The St. Mary’s Tigers will travel to Winnfield Friday, Sept. 8 with kickoff at 7 p.m.
Game previews can be read in the Thursday, Sept. 7 edition of The Natchitoches Times.