Although Westgate took a decisive 39-7 win over No. 23 Livonia in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs at home Friday, head coach Ryan Antoine believes his team will need a better effort next week at No. 7 Assumption.
On the one hand, the Tigers (8-3) dominated from start to finish vs. Livonia (6-4). However, Westgate didn’t score on several drives inside Livonia territory.
In the first half, WHS scored two touchdowns on short passes from Brennon Landry to Kayshon Boutte, but four more drives into enemy territory resulted in zero points, including a march to the Livonia four-year line near the end of the second quarter.
“We could not sustain the run game at all,” Antoine said.
“We have to clean that up. Our offensive line play tonight was not good at all. People are going to expose that in the later rounds.”
On their first possession, the Tigers ran between the tackles at will.
Junior running back Kevion Sophus carried on runs of 10, 13, 13 and 18 yards to set up a nine-yard toss from Landry to Boutte that gave WHS an early 7-0 lead.
The Livonia front seven stiffened considerably after that, holding Sophus to 17 more yards on 10 carries. He finished with 14 attempts for 75 yards.
“On the first drive, we were able to dictate our pace and dictate our identity, and then we got away from that,” Antoine said.
“When you have those splash players like Kayshon Boutte and Makholven Sonn, you can get those big plays, but sometimes our other guys get lax.
“We forget about what we’re trying to do with running the football, so we have to be a complete team and focus on that, as well.”
Boutte, who carried twice for 14 yards, added his team’s second touchdown on a slant route that also covered 14 yards.
Landry completed 4 of 10 passes for 80 yards.
“We definitely have to run the football better,” Antoine said.
“Opponents are going to take away our passing game and take away our weapons, so we’re going to have to be able to line up and get some push running the football.
“We’re going to focus on that a lot this week as we prepare to go and face a tough Assumption team.”
On the bright side, the WHS defense pitched a shutout until late in the contest when the Wildcats got on the board with a long TD pass.
The Tigers notched five sacks, forced three turnovers and limited Livonia quarterback Avery Walker to 5 of 12 passing and 19 yards in the first half.
Defensive lineman Alonzo Lewis intercepted a pass, and linebacker Zyion Madison recovered a fumble for Westgate, which didn’t allow a first down until Livonia’s fifth possession.
“The defensive guys were all flying around and doing a great job,” Antoine said.
“They got back to basics and did what we’re supposed to do defensively.
“I’m definitely proud of those guys because that was a very talented team we played against. We were able to do a great job of containing them.”
The Tigers added five more points on a safety and a 25-yard field goal from Connor Scott. In the second half, the WHS special teams stuffed the Livonia punter for a big loss on fourth down.
Sonn had a 31-yard catch to set up one of Boutte’s TDs, and sophomore Jordan Doucet caught a 26-yard pass.
Sophomore Danny Lewis carried for three one-yard touchdowns to close out the scoring.
“Danny is part of our goal-line package at the quarterback position,” Antoine said. “He’s more of a downhill, tough guy. He’s a weapon for us, and we’re going to use him as much as we can.”