Amite looks to finish against Welsh
Karr coach Brice Brown, John Curtis coach J.T. Curtis, Kentwood coach Jonathan Foster, Warren Easton coach Jerry Phillips and Amite coach Zephaniah Powell were featured speakers.
For Zephaniah Powell and the Amite Warriors, the expectations and the pressure are always there.
Amite is back in a championship game for the second time in three years, looking to end a tough streak.
Since winning the Class 3A state championship in 2004 in a 21-14 victory over Notre Dame under Donald Currier, the Warriors have been to the title game three times without a victory.
The Warriors lost the Class 3A title game 40-36 to Lutcher in 2016. The Warriors also lost in the 2014 Class 3A championship game, falling 43-14 to Livonia. In 2011, it was an excruciating 9-8 loss to St. Charles Catholic in the 3A title game.
Amite has won four state titles, three under the direction of Currier.
Now, Powell tries to etch his name into the record book as No. 2 Amite battles No. 5 Welsh Friday at noon.
“The last coach to do it was Coach Currier,” Powell said. “He is a living legend in our area. He would do it like every four years. This is our fourth year on the job.”
Amite whipped third-seeded Ferriday 44-20 in the semifinals while Welsh rallied to shock top seed Many 28-21 in the round of four.
The Warriors (13-1) lost only to Country Day 24-23 in the season opener at Metairie on Aug. 31. Amite has ripped off 13 straight wins since.
While the Amite offense has been outstanding, averaging 44 points per game, it is the Warrior defense that strikes fear into any opponent.
Amite has pitched six shutouts and held nine opponents to six points or fewer while the Amite offense has scored 40 or more points in 11 games.
“We’ve played some great football during our playoff run,” Powell said. “If a team can’t score, they can’t beat you. Welsh has a fantastic coach in Coach (John) Richardson. We’re excited about the opportunity.”
The Warriors have four superb Division I players.
Quarterback Amani Gilmore is a Kentucky commit while wide receiver/defensive back Devonta Lee and defensive tackle Ishmael Sopsher are two of the top-ranked players in Louisiana. Wide receiver Kyle Marshall is a Louisiana Tech commit.
“Everyone knows about Devonta and Ishmael,” Powell said. “We feel that Amani is probably not only one of the most underrated players in our state but in America. He will probably be a high baseball draft pick as well. He’s had a phenomenal year for us both running and throwing. He’s a multi-threat. That’s something we believe in. He can beat you with his mind, beat you with his arm and beat you with his legs. He will play quarterback at the next level. Devonta wants to play offense at the next level. That’s what he wants to play.”
The Greyhounds (11-3) are the defending state champions. Welsh had to forfeit their opening game to Rayne before losing to Kaplan 18-7 in week two to start the season 0-2. The only other loss was to Division III top seed Notre Dame.
Welsh has pitched four shutouts of its own and allowed 16 points or fewer eight times. Welsh has averaged 38.8 points per game.
Senior quarterback Austyn Benoit has been good, completing 103-of-169 passes for 1,571 yards with 21 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Benoit has rushed 146 times for 793 yards and 15 touchdowns. The Greyhounds punishing ground attack has a pair of 1,000 yard rushers in senior Jerome Hebert and sophomore Jaheim Simon.
Hebert has rushed 111 times for 1,201 yards and 16 touchdowns while Simon has 182 rushes for 1,185 yards. Senior Da’ren Jeno is the top receiver with 43 catches for 644 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“Expectations at Amite are always there,” Powell said. “It’s been 14 years since we have won it and its something we talk about with our kids, not only with our kids but with our families because they are super important.”
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE Owner and CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Football Foundation, College…