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The Sacred Heart defensive unit bottles up a North Central player in their 53-12 win over the Hurricanes Friday night. The Trojans finish the regular season with an overall record of 4-1 and will head to the Division IV playoffs this coming Friday. Brackets for the LHSAA post-season should be released today. (Gazette photo by Yvette Jagneaux)

Cleaning off the rust

Sacred Heart cruises past North Central; playoff time

VILLE PLATTE -- The Sacred Heart Trojans rolled up 346 total yards and scored both offensively and defensively in a 53-12 win over the North Central Hurricanes Friday night.
With the win, Sacred Heart improved to 4-1 on the year and will await the announcement of the playoff brackets to find out who and where they will play in the 2020 post-season.
The big concern for Sacred Heart coming into this game was how well they would perform after being shut down the past two weeks due to COVID-19 protocols. According to Trojan head coach Josh Harper, any questions about his team’s readiness for the playoffs were answered against North Central.
“I think the kids played hard and played with a lot of effort,” stated Harper. “We have a few things to clean up before next week, but, for the most part, I thought we took care of business tonight. It was good to get out on the field and good to get the rust off. Now it’s time to get ready for the post-season.”
Sacred Heart wasted little time getting points on the board. On the very first play from scrimmage, senior running back Alex McElwee took a quick pitch over the left side of the line, broke a couple of tackles, and raced 45 yards for the touchdown.
The extra point by Ethan Karonika was good, and, 16 seconds into the game, the Trojans lead 7-0.
The Sacred Heart defense came to play early in the contest, holding North Central to a three and out on the Hurricanes’ first possession of the contest. Getting the ball at the North Central 49-yard line following the Hurricane punt, the Trojan offense went back to work.
Runs by McElwee and a completed pass to Landon Leblanc put Sacred Heart at the North Central 25-yard line. On first and ten, Karonika slipped a pass out into the flat to Gabe Fontenot, who raced past all Hurricane defenders for the score.
The kick failed, giving the Trojans a 13-0 lead with 7:18 to go in the first quarter.
On North Central’s next drive, the Hurricanes tried to get bold, attempting a play on fourth and seven from their 46-yard line. However, Sacred Heart stopped quarterback Aaron Johnson for a two yard gain, giving the Trojans excellent field position once again.
Sacred Heart worked its way to the North Central 40-yard line, where Karonika would hit Fontenot once again for a touchdown pass. The two-point run by McElwee succeeded, putting the Trojans up 21-0 with 2:54 to go in the opening period.
North Central rebounded with a long drive of its own on their ensuing possession. The Hurricanes, starting at their 47-yard line, marched down to the Sacred Heart six-yard line.
On first and goal, Christopher Rideau strolled into the end zone, putting North Central on the board for the first time in the game. The two-point run failed, however the Trojan lead was cut down to 21-6 with 10:21 to go in the second quarter.
Sacred Heart would put up two more scores before the half came to a close. The first touchdown came on a 25-yard pass from Karonika to McElwee. The second score happened when up-back Jay Earles took a direct snap in to the end zone. As the half came to a close, the Trojans would own a 33-6 lead.
The second half started off in the usual manner, with North Central taking the kickoff up to their 28-yard line. However, the fireworks would go off quickly for the Trojans six plays into the Hurricanes’ initial possession.
On fourth and three from the 45-yard line, Johnson tried to hit a receiver in the flat. Sacred Heart’s Spencer Darbonne stepped right in front of the receiver, picked off the pass and raced 50 yards for the score. Karonika tacked on the extra point, putting the Trojans up 40-6 with 8:18 left in the third quarter.
Sacred Heart added on to its lead five and a half minutes later when McElwee busted loose for a 54 yard touchdown run. With the extra point it was now 47-6.
The Hurricanes collected their second touchdown of the game late in the fourth quarter on a 19 yard pass from Johnson to Kyln Joseph.
The final score of the night came on the last play of the game, as Blake Hebert powered his way for a 22-yard touchdown run.
McElwee ended the night with 176 yards on ten carries. Karonika threw for 151 yards on six of 11 passing an three touchdowns. Gabe Fontenot led all receivers with two catches for 65 yards and two touchdowns.

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