CCHS gets rematch with No. 1 VC
Central Catholic’s Jalen Johnson sacks St. Martin’s Episcopal quarterback Desmond McGovern during the Eagles’ 49-0 win in the bi-district round of the Division 4 playoffs. The Eagles’ defense has been especially good the last two weeks and will need another solid performance Friday when they travel to Abbeville to face top seed and District 7-1A foe Vermilion Catholic in regional round action. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. (The Daily Review/Valerie LeBlanc)
In a battle of Eagles Friday, Central Catholic will be looking to silence the Screaming Eagles.
No. 16 seed Central Catholic will hit the road for the regional round of the Division 4 postseason when they face No. 1 Vermilion Catholic in a 7 p.m. matchup in Abbeville.
The two teams, who are district rivals, have taken different paths to get to this second round matchup.
Vermilion Catholic (10-0) finished its season with an unblemished record, a District 7-1A title and received a first-round bye last week.
Central Catholic started its season 0-5, with the fifth loss coming to Vermilion Catholic, 44-31, in Week 5.
Since then, the Eagles have reeled off five wins in their last six contests — most recently, consecutive shutouts against Gueydan in Week 10 and St. Martin’s Episcopal in the Class 1A bi-district round by a combined 99-0 margin.
This week, though, things will get much tougher for the Eagles as they face a Vermilion Catholic team that averages 39.4 points a contest and surrenders 13.7 a game.
Conversely, Central Catholic is scoring 28.6 points a contest and surrendering 23.3.
“I think both teams know what’s at stake, both teams know each other really well, and we’re just going to go out there and play our best,” Central Catholic head coach David Fuhrer said.
Fuhrer said that when Central Catholic had played Vermilion Catholic in that first matchup, it was the best game the Eagles had played up to that point.
However, he said there was a “mental lapse” in the third quarter in which the Eagles allowed Vermilion Catholic to turn a 17-10 deficit into a 30-17 advantage after three quarters.
“That pretty much to me was the difference in the game,” Fuhrer said.
Defensively, Vermilion Catholic kept Central Catholic’s offense, including Tyler Hoffpauir and Stefano Guarisco, in check.
After the duo combined for 16 catches for 222 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, they totaled just two catches for four yards in the third quarter and six catches for 49 yards in the second half.
After the third quarter lapse, Central Catholic came back to life in the fourth quarter but couldn’t catch up to Vermilion Catholic.
In the rematch, Hoffpauir said if the Eagles play the way they need to, they will be OK Friday.
For Hoffpauir, who leads Central Catholic’s receivers with 64 catches for 767 yards and nine scores, this game and any other going forward means more to him because he is a senior and it could be his last contest.
“I’m going to go out there and give my all and I’m going to do what I can for my team, and when I get the ball, I’m going to make it happen,” he said.
Fuhrer said while the Eagles played their best game of the season at that point, he thinks they are better now.
They will get some help both offensively and defensively in the rematch as Garret LeBlanc, who sat out the first contest because of an injury, will be back as his linebacker and on offense, at fullback in the Eagles’ I-formation.
“We’re looking to use me more of a battering ram this week,” LeBlanc said of his offensive role in opening up holes for standout running back Stefano Guarisco, who was limited to minus 2 yards rushing in the first contest.
Defensively, LeBlanc, who was relegated to barking out instructions from the sidelines the last time these two teams met, said the Eagles are seeking to “make a statement” Friday.
“They like to move things around so this week’s been a … week of getting people in the right places, and making sure I have the right calls, getting the right calls in, a lot of audibles and everything,” he said. “I’m going to have my defense ready. No doubt about that.”
Central Catholic’s defense, which is surrendering 255.3 yards per game, will face a daunting task in Vermilion Catholic’s offense, led by quarterback Brennan Gallet, running back Mike Campbell and wide receiver Conner Menard.
Gallet has completed 132 of 217 passes for 2,089 yards with 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Campbell has rushed 149 times for 1,307 yards and 24 scores, while Menard has caught 60 passes for 1,038 yards and 13 touchdowns.
LeBlanc said limiting the Vermilion Catholic big plays and scoring on offense will be key in the matchup.
“Whether it’s by the ‘I’ or whether it’s by the spread, whether it’s handing the ball to Stefano or throwing it to Tyler, we just got to move the ball, get first downs, hold them on defense and put points on the board,” he said.
Friday’s matchup will begin at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast on KBZE 105.9 FM.