Varnado hosting Covenant Christian tonight to begin league play at 7 p.m.
Published 4:11 pm Friday, October 6, 2017
Varnado opens District 8-1A play tonight with an important game against Covenant Christian Academy at home with kickoff at 7 p.m.
Although it is a small sample size, the teams have met in each of the last two years and the winner of this game has won the league. The teams have split the two games and despite the long ride, which is about 125 miles from one school to the other, the road team has won both meetings.
Varnado won last year’s game, 52-20, while Covenant Christian Academy won the year before, 27-14.
The Wildcats enter this week with a 2-2 record and are coming off of a bye. Varnado was last in action two weeks ago and suffered a 35-18 loss to North Vermilion.
“The open week couldn’t have come at a better time,” Varnado coach Scott Shaffett said. “We were pretty banged up. We’ve played a tough schedule since the scrimmage. When you add up the scrimmages, the jamboree and the season, it’s been about seven weeks.
“People ask us about why we play such a schedule. It’s about the playoffs. It’s not about winning every game in the regular season.”
Shaffett said on Wednesday that his team has probably had the best week of practice this week.
“That’s what I ask for is to get better every week, to get better every week and be consistent,” Shaffett said. “This week, I’ve been impressed with our efforts and our practice performance.”
In the game against North Vermilion, James Williams accounted for two touchdowns. He threw one to Ardaryl McGowan and scored another on a sneak.
Desmond Harry tallied a rushing touchdown in that game.
Varnado enters this week as the No. 1 team in the unofficial LHSAA Class 1A power rankings. Covenant Christian is Academy is No. 12 in the LHSAA unofficial Division IV power rankings.
Neither team is ranked in the top 10 of the Louisiana Sports Writers Association poll, but both are in the others receiving votes category.
Covenant Christian enters this week with a 4-1 record. Covenant Christian’s loss was last week to Ascension Catholic, 47-0.
“It’s opening district and obviously one of the better teams in our district we’re going to face,” Covenant Christian coach Randy Boquet said. “They’ve got tremendous athletes and a tremendous program. Unfortunately for us, they got most of their skill players back from year and they handled us pretty good last year. It’s a tall order for us, but we have to correct mistakes we made last year, hopefully learn from those mistakes and compete better this Friday.
“Last week, we got humbled by a good Ascension Catholic team. We made a bunch of mistakes. We turned the ball over a tremendous amount. Typically you learn more from a loss. You don’t learn as much from a win, but you get your butt kicked like we did last week, you learn a lot.”
Covenant Christian’s offense has a two-quarterback system with Nick Lagendyk and Trenton Holloway.
“Each one brings something different to the table,” Boquet said. “Nick is very familiar to the offense and runs it very, very well. Trenton has a little bit more of an athletic skillset.”
The backs are running back Devonte Johnson, wingback Anthony Ruffin and fullbacks Austin Champagne and Trenton’s brother, Channing Holloway.
“All of those running backs, we feel like can put pressure on a defense,” Boquet said. “Devonte Johnson especially, he can get to the end zone very quickly. He can change the game with a few touches and a little bit of an opening. Anthony Ruffin can also change the game too. He’s an elusive guy and if he gets an opening, he can make your defense pay for it dearly. Both Austin and Channing are exactly what you’re looking for at fullback. Both are very physical runners. They’re not going to shy away from contact. Both have deceptive speed at that position.”
The tight end is Randy’s son Zach. Devin Babin is the wide receiver.
Covenant Christian wants to run the ball, but will take some shots if the passing game is open.
The carries have been balanced in the backfield. Johnson has 413 yards on 36 carries and five touchdowns. Channing Holloway enters with 26 attempts for 335 yards and five scores. Ruffin begins with 294 yards on 27 attempts and Champagne is at 227 yards on 31 attemps and three touchdowns.
Holloway and Lagendyk have combined for 31 pass attempts. Holloway has thrown for 63 yards and a touchdown. Lagendyk has 51 passing yards and a two-point conversion.
The top defenders are lineman Brayden Short, who Boquet said does a good job of maintaining his gap and making plays in the backfield.
The rest of the top defenders are linebackers are Channing Holloway and Champagne along with cornerbacks Ruffin and Caleb Wilson. Holloway has 37 solo tackles, three sacks, a blocked punt and a punt return for a touchdown.