McDonogh 35 tries to clear huge playoff hurdle at Neville
Forgive McDonogh 35 head coach Wayne Reese if Monroe is not his favorite stop in Louisiana.
Reese took his Roneagles to Neville in 2011 and 2012. In 2011, the Tigers walloped the Roneagles 50-8 in the quarterfinals and Neville won 28-8 in the 2012 semifinals.
In 2009, Mickey McCarty took his team to New Orleans to play on a Saturday evening and survived a 39-36 thriller after trailing most of the way.
Needless to say, it has not been a pleasant experience for Reese or McDonogh 35 against Neville. Then again, unless your name is Karr, it has been an unpleasant experience for all 4A teams dealing with the Tigers in recent years.
“It is a long trip to bus to Monroe,” Reese said. “We have never liked doing it or going there but Neville has a lot to do with it. They are always good.”
The 10th-seeded Roneagles (8-3) return to the scene of nightmares when they face the seventh-seeded Tigers (7-3) Friday night at Bill Ruple Stadium.
Neville has 12 state championships including four under McCarty, all since 2009.
While Neville remains a good team, it is certainly not the invincible monster opponents have seen in recent years.
The Tigers have losses to Ruston and West Monroe in-state. Neville advanced with a 28-3 victory over26th-seed Woodlawn of Baton Rouge, holding the Panthers to just 101 total yards. The record does not fool Reese.
“I know they are only the seventh-seed and they have three losses but they are still Neville,” Reese said. “When you have that tradition and reputation, you expect to win, especially in the playoffs. We know it will be tough.”
McDonogh 35 advanced with a 21-6 win over 23rd-seeded Minden, holding the Crimson Tide to 151 total yards.
The Roneagles fell one game short of the championship game a year ago, falling 26-14 to rival Karr. McDonogh 35 reached the quarterfinals in 2015.
“We have been close most recently and we really want to get to the ‘Dome,” Reese said. “That was the goal at the start of the season and it is still the goal. We know we play very tough people during the regular season so we will be prepared.”
The Roneagles are led by senior quarterback Lejohn Howard. The Nicholls commit passed for two touchdowns in the win over Minden a week ago. Lawrence Keys is a standout receiver and dangerous punt return man. Eddie Tillman, III provides punch in the running game, along with Jordan Griffin. Caleb Izidore had a touchdown catch last week as well. Blue-chip defensive back Joseph Foucha leads the defense.
Quarterback Jordan Thomas leads the Neville attack while Payton Batteford shares time at the position. DeMaine Riley rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown against Woodlawn while Joseph Bouie is a solid runner as well. Eli Williams is a top receiver.
“We feel we have the talent to win and go a long way,” Reese said. “We have to avoid mistakes. We cannot make mistakes and expect to win. If we make mistakes, they will kill us and we will lose. It is that simple. LeJohn is a great quarterback and that is what you need to win in the playoffs. We feel our defense is good. We know we have a chance but we have to play real well. We know how tough it is to beat Neville.”
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE 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 Sports Media Association, National Football…