Lafayette Christian routs Ascension Catholic to repeat as Division IV football champions
Lafayette Christian is a heck of a No. 4 seed.
The Knights (14-0) won their second consecutive Division IV championship by routing No. 2 Ascension Catholic 56-7 in the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Prep Classic on Thursday in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
It was the second consecutive year that the Knights beat the Bulldogs (12-2) in the title game.
“We were four seeded last year we were four seeded this year,” LCA coach Trev Faulk said, “so I think I’m just going to go ahead and ask if we can be the four seed every year going forward.”
The seeding was a result of the Knights playing in a relatively week district (6-1A) and not playing a particularly challenging non-district schedule. So the strength of schedule limited their power-point ranking.
“I understand that it’s just a mathematical formula,” Faulk said. “When you look at some of the opponents we played, they didn’t win as many games. It was just math. I didn’t think it was anything anyone ever voted on. It was just numbers.”
Faulk said he explained to his players that the seeding wasn’t anything personal.
“We didn’t need any type of external motivation,” he said. “That’s the beauty of this group.”
The internal motivation to win another state title was more than sufficient. Only Vermilion Catholic scored on LCA in the regular season as the Knights won their 10 games by an average margin of 56 points. They won their three playoff games leading to the Superdome by an average of 41 points. So the 49-point margin against presumably the second-best team in Division IV was consistent with the entire season.
“It’s in our DNA,” said Errol Rogers Jr., who caught a 59-yard touchdown from Zach Clement on the first play of the game.
Rogers played quarterback in the 10-0 victory in last year’s title game because Clement had suffered a season-ending knee injury in the middle of the season.
Having Clement back made the Knights that much more dominant. On Thursday he ran for two touchdowns (and 111 yards) and passed for three touchdowns (and 222 yards on six completions).
“He has the ability to throw it and to run it,” Ascension Catholic coach Drey Trosclair said. “That makes it hard to focus on trying to take away one.”
Jai Williams rushed for 262 yards on a classic-record 40 carries, but the Bulldogs’ “smashmouth” offense, as Trosclair called it, wasn’t designed to overcome the type of deficit the Knights created in the second half.
“We’re definitely not used to being behind like that,” quarterback Rodney Blanchard said.
LCA’s halftime lead was unusually small (14-7) and Ascension Catholic received the second-half kickoff.
“I really liked the position we were in,” Trosclair said.
The Bulldogs reached the Knights 46, but on third and 1 Fitzgerald West Jr. stopped John Broussard for a 1-yard loss and Ascension Catholic punted.
“That was huge,” Faulk said.
LCA scored touchdowns on each of its six remaining possessions. Clement ran 4 yards for the first score, then Nicholas Picard recovered the ball in the end zone after the Bulldogs snapped the ball over their punter’s head.
“That was probably the biggest play in the football game,” Trosclair said.
In the fourth quarter, Clement threw touchdown passes of 31 yards to Sage Ryan and 28 yards to Victor Dupre. Ryan added a 42-yard interception return for a touchdown and a 66-yard punt return for a touchdown.
“It happened pretty quickly,” Trosclair said. “So many things snowballed.”
Still, Trosclair put the back-to-back title-game losses into perspective.
“A lot of teams in Louisiana wish they could be in this situation,” he said. “It hurts now, but we have a lot to be proud of.”
The win was especially gratifying for Clement after he missed last year’s title run.
“It really hurt me not to be able to be out there with my teammates,” he said.
But he was with them Thursday and his first play was the connection with his fill-in from last season for a touchdown just 13 seconds into the game.
“That was a really special moment,” Clement said.
A 22-yard touchdown pass from John Mire to Andrew Landry on the next possession evened the score briefly before Clement’s 37-yard scoring run put LCA ahead for good.
“We talk about sowing and reaping all the time in our program,” Faulk said. “Our players sowed some really good seeds and reaped benefits throughout the season.”
“We made a big statement,” Rogers said.
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Les East is a nationally renowned freelance journalist. His blog on SportsNOLA.com was named “Best Sports Blog” in 2016 by the Press Club of New Orleans. For 2013 he was named top sports columnist in the United States by the Society of Professional Journalists and Louisiana Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. You can follow…