Vermilion Catholic cruises to victory in first round
What a difference a year makes.
The Vermilion Catholic Screaming Eagles soothed the memory of last year’s playoff exit with a dominating 40-7 first-round victory over visiting St. Martin’s Episcopal Friday night.
In a performance sure to make a statement, first-year coach Brady Thomas saw his squad build a 40-0 halftime lead before coasting home.
The 33-point win was a mirror-like reversal of 2016’s 33-0 opening loss to Cedar Creek, a setback that stuck with the Eagles.
“That loss motivated all of us,” said defensive back Nick Langlinais, who had one of VC’s interceptions in Friday’s victory. “Coming into this season, a lot of people doubted us. Our goal has been to prove the doubters wrong.”
Apparently, few are still doubting the Eagles, who are the No. 1 seeds in Division IV and were heavily favored against out-manned St. Martin’s.
“Our goal was to focus on us, not worry about the other team, no matter who we were playing,” Langlinais said. “We didn’t want to play down to their (an underdog’s) level. We wanted to keep our level of play high, so we would be ready for teams to come.”
“We wanted to play the game the VC Way, to win the game in all areas – offense, defense and special teams, and I think we did that aside from some turnovers early on in the first half that we’ll have to correct,” Thomas said.
Senior quarterback JT Lege directed an unstoppable attack, hitting Kris Constantine for a 4-yard slant for a 12-0 lead, plunging 2 yards himself to make it 19-0 and finding Ethan Lege for a 29-yard TD that ballooned the count to 26-0.
Younger brother Drew Lege took over and fired scoring darts of 30 yards to Andre LeBlanc and 13 yards to Ethan Lege. LeBlanc scored the game’s initial TD from 2 yards out.
The Saints managed to avoid a shutout with 4 minutes remaining when Caleb Laird hit a leaping Monte Lewis with a 27-yard touchdown.
For JT Lege, who missed early games with a knee injury, the triumph was redemptive.
“This is JT’s team. This is his offense,” Thomas said. “Once he got healthy again, he took over. His brother Drew did a good job keeping us going while JT was hurt, and we’ve got packages for Andrew Marceaux, because they have different skill sets.”
“JT is a great leader,” Langlinais said. “Drew and Andrew stepped up and guided us through while he was out.”
Marceaux quarterbacked most of the second half as the Eagles rested most of their starters.
“We had the chance to get some of the younger players some time on the field,” Thomas said. “We may need them to be ready down the road.”
The road is where the Eagles head next, facing a No. 9 Ouachita Christian squad that bumped No. 8 Sacred Heart of Ville Platte 42-23 on Friday.
“When we’re on the road, we try to make every place our home,” Langlinais said. “Our fans will be there, and it will feel like home. Our preparation doesn’t change at all.”
“On the road, we want to play championship caliber defense, and protect the ball, move it and score on offense,” Thomas said. “We’ll have to be able to score points against the kind of teams we’ll be playing.”
That didn’t seem to be a problem on Friday, but St. Martin’s got a playoff ticket despite a 3-7 record that included three lopsided shutout losses and a roster of 20 players.
There are far bigger fish to fry in this year’s playoffs. But, unlike last year, the Eagles got cooking early this time around.