Varnado advances to Class 1A quarterfinals

Published 10:35 pm Friday, November 17, 2017

Varnado’s Wildcats featured a strong running game, led by Desmond Harry, and a solid defense in a 58-18 victory over Arcadia in the second round of the Class 1A state playoffs at home Friday.

The fourth-seeded Wildcats (8-3) ran for 300 yards and six touchdowns. Harry tallied 209 yards and three rushing touchdowns, capping off his night with touchdown runs of 52 and 58 yards.

“I lined up in the backfield. When the coach called the plays, the line told me they got me. All I had to do was run,” Harry said, referring to his final two long runs.

The defense played tough throughout the game.

Arcadia scored on two of its first three possessions, but the defense held the Hornets scoreless until the fourth quarter after that. All the while, the offense was racking up points.

Linebacker Darian Vargas talked about how exciting it is, when his team is playing lights-out defense.

“There’s no better feeling in the world than playing defense like that,” Vargas said. “We keep getting stops, holding them to three-and-outs, forcing punts — no better feeling than that.”

The game’s first three drives ended in scores. Varnado took a 6-0 lead when Jadarrell Magee scored on a 5-yard run. The two-point conversion was no good, keeping it 6-0 with 8:15 left in the first quarter.

Arcadia responded when Corey Russell ran 7 yards to tie the game after the failed two-point conversion. Russell ran for 195 yards and two touchdowns on 32 attempts.

“We knew that No. 6 (Russell) coming in was a stud,” Varnado coach Scott Shaffett said. “We knew that, so we knew it was going to take a little bit to slow him down. You’re not used to that at practice until you get out here and you don’t realize how fast he is.

“He’s one of the best running backs in the state of Louisiana. You know what, after we seen him that first series (seven carries for 62 yards on the first drive), we shut him down the rest of the night.”

Varnado scored the next 16 points. Jaccourious Bickham scored on a 13-yard run and ran it in for two to make it 14-6 after one quarter.

Harry later posted a 30-yard scoring run, as he started up the middle and then went outside, up the left sideline and in. Harry converted for two and it was 22-6 with 9:51 left in the second quarter.

Arcadia came back quickly. The Hornets began with the ball at the 50. Tyler Jefferson threw to Jajuanta Cockerham for 40 yards and then Russell ran it in from the 10. The two-point try was no good and it was 22-12 with 9:04 left.
But those were the final points for Arcadia until the fourth quarter.

During that time frame, the Wildcats scored 22 straight.

Magee scored from 1 yard out and James Williams converted the two points.

Williams completed a 24-yard touchdown pass to Bickham with 1:43 to go in the second quarter. The two-point attempt was no good. It was 36-14 at halftime.

Williams threw for 56 yards on 4-of-5 passing, and had a 17-yard run that set up Magee’s 1-yard run.

Harry ran 52 yards at the 5:41 mark of the third quarter and Bickham converted for two points with 5:41 left in the third.

Jefferson snuck in from the 3 for Arcadia. The attempt for two was no good, keeping it 44-18 with 10:37 left.

Harry capped off his rushing night with a 58 yard run 22 seconds later and Magee was good for two more points.

The final points came with 5:45 left. Arcadia was attempting to score a touchdown. The Hornets were pushing the pile, but JoNathan Green took the ball away from the ball carrier and went 99 yards the other way to cap the scoring at 58-18.

Varnado heads to No. 5 Logansport, the defending Class 1A state champion, for the quarterfinal round. It will be the second-straight year the teams will meet in the quarterfinals.

“We need some redemption,” Vargas said. “Last year, we were in the same position. Third round, go all of the way to Logansport and they beat us down last year. I think it was like (50-14), so we’ve got to get redemption — it’s a big redemption game. I’m glad we’ve got another chance to go up there and make it right.”

No. 13 Arcadia finished the season with a 5-6 record.