Lutcher faces high-scoring Panthers

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 10, 1999

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / November 10, 1999

LUTCHER – Lutcher’s defensive strategy in its bi-district playoff game against Buckeye might be “Get Smart.”That would be Wes Smart, the Panthers’ 1,500-yard rusher this season.

Smart also carried the ball into the end zone 17 times, helping Buckeye to a 7-3 record.

The Panthers are one of the hottest teams in the state entering the playoffs. Buckeye lost its first two games but has won seven of its lasteight, including the last four, in clinching its first ever district title. ThePanthers are also one of the highest scoring teams around, averaging 35.5points per game. In their seven wins, they have gone over the 40 pointmark six times, including a 40-8 victory over Avoyelles last Thursday.

The quarterback of that offense is junior Brandon Willis. Chad Willis is atfullback and Darren Floyd, a first team all-district selection last season, is back at tight end. Justin Pilcher is also a returning all-districtselection at tackle.

The Panthers run out of a combination wing-T, wishbone offense. And runis the optimum word with the Panthers liking to keep the ball on the ground.

The defense, which has allowed a combined 56 points over the last four games, is led by seniors Josh Graig at defensive tackle and inside linebacker Jake Clanton.

Facing that defense is a Lutcher offense that has been pretty productive on its own. Thomas Ricks passed for 204 yards and three touchdowns,including an 81 yarder to Kenneth Johnson in a 31-13 victory at Donaldsonville Friday. Ricks also had scoring strikes of 41 yards to ChrisJohnson and 42 yards to Kenneth Johnson. He finished the season with1,803 yards and 14 touchdowns through the air.

Friday’s victory clinched the District 9-3A title outright for the Bulldogs (8-2 overall, 4-0 in district), giving them three titles in the 1990s.

Lutcher also won district titles in 1991 and 1995. But now, the Bulldogsare after bigger things.

“We got it, we got the undisputed district title in a tough district,” Lutcher coach Tim Detillier said. “But now is what you work for and whatyou play for. We want to get to the big dance.”Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tickets are $5 for advanced and at the gate.The winner advances to the regionals next week against the winner of the Teurlings-Brusly game.

St. James-Church Point

ST. JAMES – After a week off, the St. James Wildcats are ready to get backto business as they host Church Point in the bi-district playoffs Friday night.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. St. James is coming off a bye week in the final week of the season. TheWildcats completed the season at 7-2 overall, 3-1 in District 9-3A.

But don’t think the Wildcats took it easy in that off week. On the contrary,St. James coach Rick Gaille said his team actually got better afterworking on fundamentals.

“It went very well,” Gaille said. “The attitude and attendance and effortwas tremendous. I’m very happy with the excitement of last week. We area better team right now than we were at the beginning of last week.”That may be bad news for the Wildcats’ upcoming opponents. After all,this was a team that came within a couple of plays of being undefeated this season. Corey Webster was one of the top passers in the area with1,277 yards and 18 touchdowns and was picked off only five times all season. Davin Dennis led area receivers in Class 3A with 34 catches for794 yards and 10 touchdowns.

But the Church Point team that the Wildcats will host this week is no pushover. After going 3-7 last season, the Bears came back to go 6-4 thisseason, including a 2-2 mark that was good for third place in District 5- 3A.

Church Point is coming off a 41-13 victory over West St. Mary. MattBroche ran for two touchdowns while Darnell Meche contributed 94 yards and a touchdown out of the Bears’ wing-T offense. The Bears ran up 294yards in offense while holding West St. Mary to 147 yards.One of the strongest units on the team is the offensive line, led by seniors Derek Noel, Brent Noel and Ross Boudreaux. Brent Noel recovered a fumblein the end zone for a touchdown Friday night. The defense is led by a solidlinebacking corps of Donald Malbrough, Rusty Kirkpatrick and Ross Boudreaux. But Gaille said the thing that sticks out about Church Point isthat no one player sticks out, that it’s a whole team effort.

“Their strong point is their overall team balance,” Gaille said. “Everybodyhas been outstanding. Their whole linebacking group has been outstanding.They know what they are doing and they are very well disciplined. Theyexecute exactly what they are asked to do.”Friday’s winner will play the winner of the Breaux Bridge-E.D. White gamenext week in the regionals.

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