LAFAYETTE — Make no mistake about it, C.C. Paul does not enjoy losing, and for that matter is not willing to accept losing, but Paul also knows that turning around a football program takes plenty of hard work and patience.
That was the message Jeanerette’s first-year head football coach had for his team following Friday night’s season-opening 66-20 loss at Lafayette High. The score might have been one-sided but that Paul still took away some positives from the performance.
“We take these games as building blocks with our focus being getting better throughout the season,” Paul said. “You don’t look at it as you were dominated by another team, you look at it as a test and make sure you learn from the mistakes that were made.”
Paul added, “These kids kept fighting, scored 20 points and didn’t give up. They understand it will take time to be successful.”
Lafayette High (1-0) scored early and often as the Mighty Lions scored touchdowns on their first three possessions.
Running back Jason Sam started things off with a 14-yard touchdown run, followed by a 22-yard touchdown catch by Kavon Valliere from Xan Saunier, and then a 3-yard touchdown run by running back Derezz Landry.
Lafayette High’s defense, meanwhile, was shutting down, and shutting out, Jeanerette’s offense. The Tigers’ first three possessions were three-and-outs and then the fourth possession resulted in points for the Lions when Lafayette High linebacker Oliver Craddock intercepted a pass over the middle from Jeanerette’s Noah Rollins over the middle and returned it 23 yards for a touchdown.
By the end of the first quarter, Lafayette High held a commanding 28-0 lead.
Jeanerette (0-1) was able to get on the board in the second quarter.
After having its running game bottled up to start the game, the Tigers made an adjustment to the Lions’ defense. The very next play after the adjustment, Ka’Rel Sparrow took a handoff around the right side and sprinted down the sideline for a 62-yard run.
“Our offensive coordinator came to me and said that he saw them playing us a certain way on defense,” Paul said. “He said, ‘coach I think Ka’Rel can break this run.’ We were confident that he can get the job done and he did.”
A few plays later, Richard Lumpkin powered his way in for a 1-yard touchdown and Ray’Quan Jones ran in the ensuing 2-point conversion.
Lafayette High responded by scoring two more touchdowns and getting a 34-yard field goal from Jacques Comeaux.
Despite having a running clock in the second half and a victory out of reach, Jeanerette kept fighting as Ja’Raeil Harris powered his way into the end zone on a four-yard touchdown run, and Lumpkin returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown.
Paul loved the fight his team showed late in the game, saying “that shows the dedication of our senior class.”
Jeanerette now turns its attention to hosting St. John and the next few days will be spent examining how to correct mistakes and remain remain positive that things will turn around for the Tigers.
“We are going to look at the mistakes we made like our young kids in the secondary making tackles, our young offensive line with their pass protections and blocking,” Paul said. “We have to work to do but we are getting closer every day.”