ST. MARTINVILLE — If St. Martinville Tiger fans were concerned about replacing 2,000-yard rusher Travien Benjamin, it had to be a good feeling to watch Brian Wiltz gain 237 yards on 11 attempts in last week’s 25-12 win at Cecilia.
Wiltz, who plays both quarterback and receiver, accounted for three touchdowns and also grabbed four passes from Tanner Harrison for another 93 yards.
“That’s just B.J. being himself,” SMSH head football coach Vincent DeRouen said of the 5-foot-7, 165-pound Wiltz. “He’s a dynamic and explosive player. Tanner did a good job of getting him the ball in space, and he did well once he touched it.”
The experienced SMHS defense was stingy against the Bulldogs, holding quarterback Tyler Abshire to 3-of-15 passing for 19 yards and an interception.
The leading rusher for Cecilia, Danarious Journet, managed only 31 yards on 13 carries.
“Our defense kept them bottled up,” DeRouen said. “And our offense kept the ball a long time. We had it for 9 or 10 minutes in the fourth quarter.
“We like to control the ball and shorten the game. We lay our hat on our defense and just hope our offense doesn’t kill us.”
The defense could be even better this week if strong safety Bailey Mitchell is finally cleared for action. Mitchell has been sidelined since suffering an ankle injury last year vs. Livonia.
“We’ll find out about Bailey today (Tuesday),” DeRouen said. “In his place, we’ve had two freshmen and a sophomore fill in, and they’re getting good experience in case they have to spell someone.”
Wiltz and Harrison both took snaps at quarterback. Harrison, a sophomore, ran for 74 yards on 16 carries and was 5-of-13 passing for 101 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
“Harrison threw the ball well,” DeRouen said. “We ran for 300 yards and passed for 101. We want to keep that balance.
“There were a few blown blocking schemes on the goal-line and on a couple of fourth-and-short situations, but other than that we did good from 20 to 20 (yard-line).”
Last year, the bread and butter play for the Tigers was to run behind pulling guard Michael Pete, who made first-team all-state, and that strategy is continuing to pay dividends.
“When (Wiltz) scored two times, Michael was pulling,” DeRouen said. “I was happy with our effort. We laid an egg in the jamboree (19-0 loss to St. Thomas More). We weren’t aggressive.
“This time, we were aggressive, although we had too many penalties. We also need to shore up special teams. Our special teams mistakes hurt because we’ve been working on that so much, and then we bombed out on it again.”
Cody Williams added 119 yards rushing on 10 carries and Mandrel Butler contributed 61 yards on 7 carries with a touchdown for SMHS, which is ranked fourth in Class 3A.
The Tigers travel to Lafayette High to tangle with the 5A Lions, who are coming off a 66-20 romp over Jeanerette.
“On film, they look good,” DeRouen said of the Lions. “Their quarterback (junior Xan Saunier) is outstanding.
We can’t go out there with our C- or our B-game. We have to go with our A-game because we know they will.”
Last year, St. Martinville beat Lafayette 47-27.