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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

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Trojans trump Tarpons in jamboree showdown

Trojans trump Tarpons in jamboree showdown

Jamborees are often sloppy. But the Central Lafourche football team bucked that trend Friday night at the Thibodaux High School Jamboree, scoring a two-touchdown win over a rival it hasn’t had much luck against in the past several years.

The Trojans scored a 23-9 exhibition victory over South Lafourche, using crisp, consistent offensive play to outscore the Tarpons 14-0 in the second half.

Trojans coach Keith Menard said he’s happy with how his team played – especially considering the lack of practice time the team throughout the summer has had because of inclement weather.

“Offensively, I’m not going to lie – I thought we were pretty darn good,” Menard said. “I was pleased with our offensive line. They opened up holes and did well against their front. We have skill guys. They made some plays tonight, and we’re really happy with how poised (Jake) Allemand was at quarterback. All-in-all, we’re happy. There’s things we need to fix, but we’re happy.”

The Trojans dug themselves out of an early rut to secure the victory.

South Lafourche got the ball first and drove straight down the field for points – a long drive capped by a touchdown run from quarterback Jaydon Cheramie. After a successful extra point from Arnold Nguyen, the Tarpons held a 7-0 lead.

But the Trojans battled back.

Central got points of their own in their first possession when Allemand hit receiver David Robinson for a 24-yard touchdown strike. After a failed 2-point conversion, the Trojans trailed 7-6.

“That score was big for us,” Menard said. “The guys battled back and stayed calm and kept their heads in the game.”

For the rest of the first half, South Lafourche fought a two-pronged battle. Of course, they battled the Trojans, but they also locked horns with themselves in the form of penalties.

South Lafourche committed a litany of first-half penalties on Friday, which often negated large gains and stalled what seemed like prosperous-looking drives.

Tarpons coach Brandon Nowlin said the team had more than 100 yards of penalties in the jamboree – a number, which the coach said, isn’t conducive to success at any level.

“When the guys watch the film and see how successful and dominant they can be if they just get out of their own way, I think it will sink in,” Nowlin said. “Give credit to Central Lafourche. They played well. Coach Menard does a great job. But we just gave them too much help. Every time we got something going, we’d have to take a few steps backward. We just don’t have the focus we need yet.”

Before halftime, each team had its moments. The Tarpons forced a punt, then scored a safety after the Trojans snapped the ball over their punters head and out of the back of the end zone, which gave South Lafourche a 9-6 edge.

But after the special teams mistake, the Trojans stiffened, stopping the Tarpons after the safety and then driving down the field to tie the game on a 37-yard field goal by kicker Thomas Loupe.

Menard said the sequence after the safety showed toughness in his team.

“We never buckled,” Menard said. “After the safety, this entire thing could have gone in the opposite direction. But we finished the half strong, collected ourselves and then came back out with a bang.”

That the Trojans did.

Central Lafourche controlled the play in the final quarter of the exhibition, taking a 15-9 lead when Nelton Allen capped an 11-play drive with a short touchdown run.

After forcing a punt, Allen struck again, catching an 8-yard touchdown pass from Allemand, which, after a 2-point conversion, put the Trojans up 23-9.

South Lafourche battled back late and tried to tighten the scoreboard, but a lengthy drive stopped short of pay dirt when Cheramie scrambled on a fourth down play and was tackled at the 3-yard-line – just short of the end zone, which allowed the Trojans to run out the clock and seal victory.

But like with any jamboree, the result doesn’t matter in how the 2016 season shakes out.

And both coaches know it. Each said they aren’t reading too much into what happened in Friday night’s proceedings, adding that when the teams face each other again in week 4 on Sept. 23, it will be anyone’s game.

“We were missing six or seven guys tonight – some guys who we held out for some disciplinary reasons and different things like that,” Nowlin said. “Those guys had to watch their teammates and classmates tonight go to battle without them. That hurts. We hope that refocuses our guys. … We feel we’re in good shape and we’re getting better every day.”

“We still haven’t won a game that counts yet,” Menard added. “But when you play something, you want to win – whether it counts or not. We did that tonight, so we’re happy with the kids and excited about it.”