Varnado faces Elton in 2nd round of playoffs

Published 8:31 am Friday, November 18, 2016

Varnado is at home tonight for the second round of the playoffs, as the Wildcats are facing Elton.

Tonight’s matchup could be an even contest. The teams are separated in record by just two losses and by three in terms of seeding.

Seventh-seeded Varnado enters this week with a 7-3 record while 10th-seeded Elton is 6-5 after starting the year 0-4. Also, the teams are separated by just two-tenths of a point in schedule strength. Varnado’s is 6.00 while Elton’s 5.80.

The teams have combined for an 0-5 record in the second round over the last three seasons.

Varnado has been to the second round in each of the last two years, with losses to state runner up Haynesville in 2015 and state semifinalist West St. John in 2014.

Elton has lost in the second round in each of the last three years. The losses have come to Logansport in 2015, White Castle in 2014 and semifinalist West St. John in 2013.

Logansport ended up losing to state champion Kentwood in the quarterfinals; White Castle lost to state runner up Mangham in the quarterfinals.

“It’s the second round of the playoffs,” Varnado coach Scott Shaffett said. “Everybody wants to move on to play next week. You can’t overlook anybody. If you do, you’ll be siting at home. We’ve been playing some good football. Before we stepped out on the field last week, I challenged them to take control in the first quarter. That’s been the one quarter that we’ve struggled in this year. I never imagined we’d put up 44 points in the quarter.”

Varnado led last week’s game 44-0 through the first quarter before going to a 44-6 victory over No 26 Ringgold in a game that took about 1 hour, 45 minutes.

Last week, James Williams scored on a three-yard run before adding the two-point conversion.

Desmond Harry tallied on a 45-yard run. JoeNathan Green recovered a fumble in the end zone and Harry put up the two-point conversion.

Armontee Kemp scored on a nine-yard run, Williams threw to Harry for 23 yards and Travon Stokes. Of the last three touchdowns, the Wildcats were successful on two of the two-point tries, which were runs by Stokes.

Varnado enters tonight on a five game winning streak. The Wildcats’ last lost on Sept. 30, which was the game before their bye week.

Since then, Varnado’s wins have been by margins of 32, 46, 26, 26 and 38.

This season, only three opponents have hit the 20-point mark in Berwick with 30 and South Plaquemines along with Covenant Christian Academy with 20 each.

Shaffett said his team is playing good football.

“Offensively, defensively, across the board, we’re playing good football, but we’ve got to keep improving,” Shaffett said. “We’ve got a great bunch. They’re all working together and that’s all you can ask for.”

The winner of tonight’s game plays either second-seeded Logansport or No. 15 Lincoln Preparatory School.

Elton comes into this with week after defeating 23rd-seeded LaSalle, 38-34, to begin the postseason.

“It’s second round, so it’s the top 16 teams that’s left in the state,” Elton coach Doyle Carter said. “We’re expecting to go over there and play a good team. I think they’re well coached and I think they have a lot of athleticism.”

Quarterback Keshawn Lyons, who played tailback last year, has had a solid year. During the regular season, he rushed for 1,173 yards and 16 touchdowns and threw for 716 yards and 11 scores. He also caught a touchdown pass.

“He was a tailback last year,” Carter said. “We converted him to quarterback. We run a spread offense, so now we have two running threats back there instead of one (other threat is Darnell Robinson).”

Robinson has put up similar numbers in the running game as Lyons. He rushed for 1,143 yards and 13 touchdowns in the regular season.

Alex Leonard caught 18 passes for 388 yards and four touchdowns while Jecorey Soileau had 15 receptions for 237 yards and four touchdowns in the regular season. Gavin Courville posted 11 catches. Derrick Finley caught five passes and three touchdowns over five games of the regular season.

Defensively, Carter said the strongest point has been the secondary. He said that as a group, they are leading the team in tackles.

Free safety Lyons topped the team in solo stops with 40 while middle linebacker Eric Wilson had 39 in the regular season.