SCORE ONE FOR THE RIVER
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 24, 2008
By RYAN ARENA
Devoted gridiron fans of both East St. John and Hahnville have no doubt seen the Wildcats’ Alex Singleton and Tigers’ Jai Steib operate out of the ever-popular “Wildcat” formation this season.
On Saturday, each got to try it on for size one more time — and that spelled bad news for the Bayou Region All-Stars.
Operating out of the Wildcat, the two rushers manufactured two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to extend a 13-8 River Region lead to 26-8, sealing a second straight victory for the River in the annual Bayou-River Showdown at Nicholls State’s John L. Guidry Stadium.
“It’s a source of pride for everyone, pride in River Parish football,” said Taffi. “We’re really happy to come away with the win. When we got the trophy, the kids got pretty excited.”
The game pitted senior players from the eight River Parish schools against those from 10 Bayou region schools (Assumption, Central Lafourche, E.D. White Catholic, Ellender, H.L. Bourgeois, South Lafourche, South Terrebonne, Terrebonne, Thibodaux and Vandebilt Catholic).
The River Region leads the Bayou 2-1 in the series, since the River began competing in the event in 2006.
The Wildcat was something that the River Region had tinkered with in practices last week for goalline situations, but the team’s coaching staff elected to break it out to try and close out the game.
“(Lutcher assistant) Coach (Dwain) Jenkins said, ‘Lets go to it,’” said Riverside coach Tim Taffi, who coached the River team this season. “We wanted to burn that clock.”
Leading by five, Steib and Singleton combined to chew up 81-yards in 10 plays on the team’s first scoring drive of the final quarter. The biggest play came on the arm of Singleton, who stepped forward to fake his own run before firing a pass to St. James tight end Mason King for a 27-yard gain. That set up a 1-yard Steib touchdown that made it 19-8 with 4:42 left in the game.
“We ran that Tim Tebow pass play,” said Taffi. “That was what ended up sealing it for us.”
The River Region held the Bayou, and the Singleton-King connection struck again soon after. This time, the “Tebow” pass worked to the tune of a 4-yard score that made it a 26-8 final.
“That talent we had on the team showed through in the fourth. That’s when they seemed to turn it up, and we put them away,” Taffi said.
Destrehan kicker Ryan Rome took the MVP honors, the second kicker in as many years to receive the honor. He made a 40-yard field goal, a 50-yard field goal and recorded touchbacks on all but two kickoffs.
Singleton finished with 38 yards on 10 carries. He completed 2-of-2 passes for 31 yards. Combined, the River Region ran for 136 yards of its 217 yards of total offense.
The River scored its first touchdown of the game on a St. James connection, as Marcus Dumas found his Wildcats teammate Kenny Zenon for a 25-yard touchdown late in the first quarter.
Rome’s 40-yard field goal with 8:34 left in the first half made it 10-0.
The Bayou got on the board after a bad snap on a River Region punt caused a safety, making it 10-2 with three minutes left in the first half.
After a stop, the Bayou cut the River lead to 10-8 after a 2-yard Demon Bolt touchdown run. The two-point conversion rushing attempt was no good, however, so the River maintained the lead. That came after a punt into the wind deep in River territory led to the Bayou taking over at the River’s 25.
“The defense played well all game. The only touchdown allowed came on that short drive,” Taffi said. “They did a fantastic job controlling the line of scrimmage.”