Morgan City will face Vandebilt Catholic
Morgan City’s Clifton Escort fights for yardage against Ellender in District 7-4A action earlier this month. Escort has been a recent source of offense for the Tigers’ run game as he has rushed for 114 yards on nine carries and scored three touchdowns. Escort and the rest of the Tigers will host Vandebilt Catholic Friday in a district contest that also will be Senior Night. (Photo credit: Jean L. Kaess)
Morgan City coach Dennis Lorio said his team has played well in its three home games this season, and he’s hoping to continue that trend Friday when the Tigers host Vandebilt Catholic in District 7-4A action.
In two of the Tigers’ three home games this season, Morgan City was in the contest until the end.
Most recently, the squad fell in double overtime two weeks ago to Ellender Memorial, while earlier this season, they fell to West St. Mary after West St. Mary stopped the Tigers late in the contest on a potential game-winning drive.
In the other game, against Franklin, Morgan City led 3-0 at halftime before Franklin roared back in the second half for a 30-6 victory.
A solid performance in their last home contest would be doubly sweet for the Tigers as the squad hosts Senior Night.
“We’re hoping that we can honor the seniors by showing up and giving our best effort of the year,” Lorio said.
Against Vandebilt Catholic, Lorio said the Tigers would need a solid effort.
Vandebilt Catholic will enter Friday’s contest with a new look to their backfield as the team’s leading rusher, junior Justen Harris, transferred to Ellender and began school there Monday. Originally, he had begun his freshmen year at Ellender before transferring to Vandebilt during his freshmen season.
The transfer back came after he had 176 yards rushing and four touchdowns in the Terriers’ 52-28 district win against Assumption Oct. 25.
His performance actually drew a comparison to Elijah McGuire, a former Vandebilt Catholic standout and current University of Louisiana at Lafayette freshman football player, by his head coach, Brad Villavaso.
While Harris easily led the squad in rushing this season with 568 yards on 63 carries (9-yard-per carry average) with four touchdowns, Lorio said he expected Vandebilt to do the same things offensively with their running game.
“(Hopefully) … whoever the next guy is won’t be as elusive and won’t be able to go coast to coast to make a long run, but they beat you with fundamentals,” Lorio said. “They do so many things right. They’re very sound and physical.”
Behind Haris, the Terriers feature a trio of runners with 100-plus yards this season in Gage Corte with 48 carries for 177 yards, Seth Popay, 19 carries for 162 yards rushing; and Thomas St. Martin, 34 carries, 142 yards rushing and one touchdown.
Two others, Tristan Guillory and Jordan Bergeron, both have four rushing touchdowns for the Terriers.
Lorio said the Terriers’ running game features misdirection, while their offense utilizes some spread, as well as sweeps and traps, counters, reverses and play-action passing.
The Terrier’s quarterback, sophomore David Yancey, has assumed the starting role after the previous starter, Bailey Pere, went down with an injury earlier this season.
Yancey has completed 13 of 35 passes for 183 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.
“He’s done a solid job,” Lorio said.
The Terriers’ leading receiver is Popay, who has caught 13 passes for 311 yards and a touchdown.
Corte also has 13 receptions for 171 yards this season.
Defensively, Lorio said the Terriers showed multiple looks against Assumption
“They’re very sound defensively,” Lorio said.
While the Tigers have continued to run the ball well, they have made strides in the last two weeks in their passing game.
Lorio said improvement through the air would be something the Tigers would be looking to continue.
“They’re solid on defense, and if you’re one-dimensional, that just plays into their hand,” he said. “So like we’ve tried from the beginning, we’re going to try to have some passing game that keeps their defense off balanced and give us a chance to generate some points, hold onto the ball and see if we can compete with them.”
Lorio noted that Wednesday the squad had a solid practice.
“Today we had one of our better practices,” he said Wednesday evening. “There was a lot of focus at practice, so we’ll see” what happens Friday.
Also Friday, Lorio said the Tigers will welcome back strong safety/outside linebacker Dakota McCloy to the field. McCloy has been out with an injury the past few weeks, Lorio said.
“He’s practiced,” Lorio said. “He’s done OK. He’s not 100 percent, but he’s … one of those guys that he’s all heart, puts everything he has on the field, and he’ll play some and we’ll see how effective he can be.”
Friday’s kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Additional reporting by www.bayoupreps.com.