This is game No. 40 out of the top 40 games played by Concordia Parish teams.
Delta Charter football coach Blake Wheeler had to travel a long way to get his first-ever playoff win as a head coach.
But the trip back home didn't feel long at all.
On Nov. 15, 2019, Delta Charter, ranked No. 19, hit the road to northwest Louisiana to take on No. 14 Plain Dealing 30 miles north of Shreveport.
In the only upset in the Class 1A first round, the Storm pulled out a thrilling 42-38 win over the Lions. It was the second-ever playoff win for Delta Charter, which began its varsity football program in 2015.
"I did have time to reflect on the game on the bus ride back," Wheeler said. "It was tooth and nail, so it took a little time to set in what we had done. It was a great group of kids to share that with. They exceeded all my expectations and played with a lot of heart all night long. It was an exceptional game.
In a game filled with offensive highlights, it was a defensive play near the end of the game that secured the win.
Facing fourth-and-three at the Delta Charter 30-yard line trailing 42-38 with 1:20 remaining in the game, the Storm defense dropped the Lion ballcarrier for a loss to secure the win.
"I called a time out and pulled the guys to the side and told them, 'This is one of those moments that you will remember for the rest of your life, for better or worse. They tried to run a reverse. Our guys flew off the ball and Carson Curtis played his position perfectly. I had to call a timeout to get everybody settled down. I told them we’ve preached since we got here about doing the little things right. It felt good to call for victory formation and see that time click down to zero. It was definitely one of the most exciting games I have ever been a part of."
Wheeler admitted he wasn't expecting that high of a scoring game.
"I knew we would be able to run the football," Wheeler said. "I told Coach (Cleothis) Cummings after the game that we had a game when I was at Rayville where we won a game 66-60 (2016 first round Class 2A playoff game) and there was 1,200 yards combined offense. Coach (Kent) Bursey was the defensive coordinator and head coach. I told him we might need to light a fire under that defensive coordinator. But you never know what's going to happen going into a playoff game."
Plain Dealing scored first with 7:50 remaining in the first quarter to go up 8-0.
The Storm answered with a short touchdown run by Kavarius Whitehead to pull Delta Charter to within 8-6.
The Lions went up 16-6 with 1:19 remaining remaining in the first quarter. Tre Griffin returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown to pull the Storm to within 16-12.
Clay Roberson recovered a Plain Dealing fumble which led to a 12-yard TD run by Whitehead to pull the Storm within 24-20 with 4:16 remaining in the second quarrier.
Delta Charter took its first lead on the opening drive of the third quarter make it 26-24 with 7:20 remaining.
Plain Dealing went up 32-26 with 3:30 remaining in the third quarter. The Storm regained the lead at 34-32 with 9:20 remaining in the game.
Plain Dealing scored with 6:30 remaining for a 38-34 advantage before the Storm scored the winning touchdown with 4:28 remaining.
Whitehead finished with 90 rushing yards on 20 carries, scoring four touchdowns. He also completed a 9-yard pass to Ny’Kell Brooks.
Griffin finished with 151 rushing yards on 18 carries.
Griffin was held to a total of five yards rushing in Delta Charter's final two regular season games against Cedar Creek and Ouachita Christian.
“I told the guys on the sideline that they haven’t stopped us all night,” Wheeler said. “Tre was a man on a mission. He did not want to let the seniors down, We were wearing them down and methodically moving the ball down the field. Kavarius did a great job of keeping everyone settled down and communicating with me on what he saw out there. He was amazing. Our offensive line was exceptional and Curtis Bullits did a great job at fullback. And our receivers did a great job blocking.”
Cole Beard led Delta Charter with 15 tackles, while Chandler Harrison collected 14 and Cupit 12.
“Cole did a great job on both sides of the line and never asked to come out,” Wheeler said. “Chandler wasn’t going to be denied. They looked like they would have a big play and he would come out of nowhere. And Carson made a lot of plays. We had some many players step up.”
Delta Charter ended its season the following Friday against the big-play White Castle Bulldogs, falling 32-6 in White Castle.
"Our 18 kids went down and battled hard," Wheeler said.
Delta Charter saw its chances of pulling off an upset against the No. 3 team hindered on its first possession when running back Tre Griffin went down with an injury and had to leave the game.
White Castle lost to Oak Grove in the Class 1A state championship game.