Sacred Heart Trojan running back Alex McElwee tries to break free from a Mamou High defender in a game played earlier this season. The Trojans will be back in action tomorrow night, after a two week absence, as they host the North Central Hurricanes in a District 5-1A game. (Gazette photo by Yvette Jagneaux)
Back in action
In what will be the final regular season game for both teams, the Sacred Heart Trojans will host the North Central Hurricanes in a District 5-1A contest tomorrow night.
The Trojans, coming back after a two-week absence from the gridiron, are hoping to improve on their power rating before the Division IV playoffs begin. Sacred Heart comes into the contest with an overall record of 3-1 and a league record of 1-1.
Because of the long layoff the Trojans have had to endure, Sacred Heart head coach Josh Harper is a little concerned about his team’s overall performance come tomorrow night.
“I am worried about how our players are going to react after not being able to play or practice for the last two weeks,” stated Harper. “We can either come out eager and ready to go or we can come out flatter than a pancake. What I plan to do this week at practice is to go back to our basic offensive package and make sure that we can execute it as perfectly as possible. This is not the week to try and add things in to the offense. I think as long as we give the effort on those basic plays, we will be okay.”
Before the hiatus, Sacred Heart was getting their act together on the offensive side of the ball. In the four games the Trojans have played so far, Sacred Heart averaged 31.8 points per game.
Probably the biggest reason the Trojans were rolling on offense was the fact that there were a number of players contributing to the output. One of the biggest contributors has been quarterback Ethan Karonika. The junior signal caller has thrown for 719 yards so far this season on 34 of 54 passing.
Karonika has been able to get a number of receivers involved in the passing game. Players like Bryce Deville, Landon Leblanc, Spencer Darbonne and even tight end Issac Leger have all hauled in receptions for Sacred Heart.
As usual, the run game has also been a sizable part of the Trojan offense. Senior running backs Alex McElwee and Gabe Fontenot have ground out over 500 yards, giving Sacred Heart a very balanced approach.
“I knew coming into the season what our running game could do,” said Harper. “My concern was if we could throw the ball out of the spread offense. So far, I have been pleased with what I have seen. We still have a lot of things to work on, but the passing game has been effective. It will be a matter of trying to get the timing going again after the long layoff.”
Defensively, the Trojans wreaked havoc on opposing offenses in the first four games. Outside of allowing some long touchdown runs in the first half against Catholic of Pointe Coupee, Sacred Heart has held their opponents to an average of 10.5 points per game and has shut out two of the four teams played.
“Once we settled down against Catholic, I thought we played some really good defense,” commented Harper. “Other than that hiccup, I believe our defense has been the most exciting part of our game. We have some experienced, capable guys on that side of the ball that can make adjustments on the fly. We just want to continue playing well in that area, which will in turn give our offense confidence to get things done when they are on the field.”
Sacred Heart’s opponent tomorrow night, North Central, comes into the contest with an overall record of 0-6. The Hurricanes average a meager eight points per game on offense, but give up a staggering 40.6 points per game on defense.
Still, Harper, as he does every year, will be preaching to his players that anything can happen on any given day.
“North Central is, and always has been, one of those teams that are so unpredictable,” said Harper. “As usual, they have some the best athletes around this area. We cannot for one second take this team lightly. If you come out flat against a team that has nothing to lose, they will humble you in a heartbeat. It will be up to us to come out ready to play tomorrow night.”