Varnado travels for district opener

Published 6:38 am Friday, October 14, 2016

Varnado takes to the road tonight and faces Covenant Christian Academy in the Wildcats’ District 8-1A opener at Nicholls State University’s John L. Guidry Stadium.

Varnado enters this week with a 2-3 record. The Wildcats were on a bye last week. Two weeks ago, they lost to South Plaquemines, 20-14.

“I feel over the bye week, we got healthier,” Varnado coach Scott Shaffett said. “It provided us some rest. We were able to lighten our practices the last week and get over bumps and bruises we acquired over the season.”

Varnado is 10th in the unofficial Class 1A LHSAA power ratings.

“Obviously, it’s a big game,” Shaffett said. “Last year, Covenant Christian won the district. They are, hands down, the favorite to win the district this year. They’re 5-1 and their only loss is to a Class 4A Vandebilt Catholic (38-0). We go to their place and obviously it’s a big game.”

Against South Plaquemines, James Williams threw two touchdown passes. Armontee Kemp caught a 42 yard touchdown and Desmond Harry caught one for 25 yards. Jadarrell Magee scored on a two-point conversion.

One area the offense struggled was in the red zone, as the Wildcats were unable to score four times after having the ball inside of the 20.

When Shaffett talked about his defense against South Plaquemines, he said that Damon Kirsch was all over the field and the whole defensive front played “lights out.”

Kemp had two interceptions in the game, and Shaffett said that the corners did a fantastic job of covering the field.

Covenant Christian won the contest last year, 27-14. It was 20-14 late when the Lions converted a fourth-and-3 into a 57-yard touchdown with 45 seconds left. Covenant Christian captured the district last year and the Lions also won the district title in 2014.

The Lions enter with a 5-1 overall record and a 1-0 record in district play, after defeating Ridgewood, 34-0, last week. Their only loss was a 38-0 setback to Vandebilt Catholic, which is also 5-1.

Covenant Christian is fourth in the unofficial Division IV LHSAA power ratings.

This week, quarterback/linebacker Caleb Seitz returns from a broken collarbone and will be starting at both positions.

“That’s going to be a huge lift to our football team,” Covenant Christian coach Randy Boquet said. “He brings a lot to the table. He brings leadership, experience and he’s one of our senior captains. He was voted by his peers to be a senior captain, which means the kids look up to him. This week, the tempo of practice and the mood have been better.”

Boquet said the coaching staff will be cautious this week with Seitz. This season, Seitz has thrown for 142 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

The running game has been balanced. Cameron Solet leads the group with 394 yards on 37 carries (10.6 yards per carry). Devanté Johnson has run 29 times for 266 yards (9.1) and four touchdowns.

Anthony Ruffin enters with 186 yards on 22 attempts (8.4) with a touchdown and Hunter Landry has 148 yards on 36 carries (4.1). Johnson has three catches for 63 yards (21 yards per reception) while Ruffin enters with two receptions for 65 yards (32.5).

“We’re fortunate that we have Cameron Solet who is a big playmaker for us,” Boquet said. “He’s also a kick returner and punt returner for us. Him and Devanté Johnson, anytime they touch the ball, they can make a defense pay for it because they have the ability and the speed to take it to the house.

“Hunter Landry is coming off an injury. He also brings a toughness to the running back position. In our offense, we try not to let you focus on one aspect of our offense. If you do, we’ll switch gears and go to someone else and do something else.”

Defensively, Boquet said the group is getting better and said defensive coordinator Austin Kesterson does a great job with them.

“They do a really good job of getting to the football,” Boquet said. “I’m proud that our tackling — although not perfect — has improved as the year has gone on.”

The top defenders are Seitz, linebacker/secondary Solet, cornerback Ruffin and lineman Jordan Friloux.