DCS (10-1) comes into the game after a lackluster 28-6 first round win over district rival Delhi and will travel to Delcambre to take on the Panthers, who are 8-2 on the year and district champion from District 8-1A. Delcambre entered the playoffs as the #19 seed and defeated the #14 seed LaSalle Tigers last Friday night, 35-22. This is the Panther’s first trip to the football playoffs since 1999. In case you don’t remember, Delhi Charter defeated
LaSalle 48-22 in week three of the season.
This game will present some different challenges for the Gators since the Panthers don’t run the spread offense, which DCS has seem most of the year. In fact, it might be like looking in the mirror as Delcambre is a run first, pass later offensive team that features a trio of running backs and quarterback.
“They are a tough running football team,” Delhi Charter Head Coach Brett Raley said after seeing them on film. “They feature a big fullback and a couple of other runners that can hurt you. The quarterback makes good reads when they run the option. Much like the Oak Grove game, this team will present some different looks that we haven’t seen much this year.”
Delcambre features tailback Jorey Renard who rushed for 106 yards on 18 carries against LaSalle and Lane Reaux and Tyler Romero who each have over 300 rushing yards on the season. The Panthers finished with 257 rushing yards against LaSalle and completed four passes for 79 yards. However, two of those four passes went for touchdowns as LaSalle loaded up against the run and got burned on passes of 38 and 21 yards by QB Chris “Tipper” Esponge. He also ran for 34 yards on seven carries.
With all that being said, the player who makes the Panthers go is bruising fullback and linebacker Kyle Romero. He was held in check by LaSalle as they limited him to only 42 yards on 10 carries, but he leads the team in rushing and is the leading tackler on defense from his linebacker position. Against LaSalle, his hit knocked out Tiger QB Drew White in the first half and White only returned for a few plays in the second half.
Of course, the Gators have several offensive weapons as well. Junior tailback Randy Julian has amassed 1,771 yards on 223 and scored 17 TDs, while senior quarterback Stuart Scurria has rushed for 658 and passed for 804. The Gator’s counterpart to Romero for Delcambre would be Hunter “Chunk” Simms who plays the linebacker spot and has rushed for 405 yards on 88 carries.
Delhi Charter’s defense is led by Heath Pruitt with 63 tackles, but those stats have been accumulated against passing teams running the spread. Simms is next in line with 48 tackles and 11 sacks, so it should be interesting to see who steps up on defense this week against a running offense. DCS is only allowing 75 yards rushing per game, with most of those yards coming against Oak Grove, so something has to give right.
In a strange twist of fate, next week’s opponent for the winner of this game is playing only 30 miles away as the Mangham Dragons take on the Gueydan Bears also from District 8-1A. Delcambre beat Gueydan 12-8 two weeks ago to capture the district title. If Delhi Charter wins this week, either Gueydan or Mangham has to travel to the Swamp for the quarterfinal matchup. In other action from District 4-1A, Oak Grove will entertain the Arcadia Hornets out of District 1-1A this Friday. Oak Grove defeated Oberlin 49-20, while Arcadia beat Country Day, 50-14.
On paper, this matchup between the Gators and the Panthers looks to be evenly matched as both feature a strong running game and a rugged defense. The big question marks are how the Gators will handle the nearly five hour trip to South Louisiana and which team can avoid turnovers. Either way, it should be a good second round playoff matchup if you want to make the trip on the Friday before Thanksgiving break. And I know the Gators hope to be “entertaining” either the Dragons or the Bears on the Friday night after Thanksgiving…but there is a lot of work to be done between now and then.
If you care to make the trip this Friday night, Delcambre is located west of New Iberia on Hwy 14 about five miles off of Highway 90. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.