Notes and quotes from Ouachita Christian’s 67-22 victory over Catholic-Pointe Coupee in the Division IV state championship game:
Junior running back Dillon Dougan and senior right tackle Garrett Folds both came back with a renewed determination after missing the entire 2018 season with injuries.
“Sitting out last year, it broke my heart not being able to play,” Dougan said. “When the doctor told me I could come back and play, I made up my mind that I was going to put everything on the line.”
Dougan’s dedication did not escape the attention of his senior teammates.
“Three seniors came up to me in the locker room before the game and told me, ‘We are going to lay it all on the line for you today.’ That shows how close-knit this team is,” Dougan said.
All of the rehab on the long road back was worth it in the end.
“To be able to come back and help us win the state championship game in the Dome is a dream come true,” said Dougan, who rushed for 40 yards on 11 carries Friday afternoon.
Folds also returned for the regular season, but battled an injury throughout the playoffs. With an extra week between the semifinals and finals, he was at full strength for the championship game.
End James Forte and nose guard Henry Messinger, two of the Eagles’ three starting defensive linemen, can relate to Dougan and Folds. Both went down with season-ending injuries in the middle of the regular season. Messinger accompanied Dougan, Hunter Herring and Will Fitzhugh at the postgame press conference.
OCS finished the regular season with ends Christopher Holyfield and Christian Gray and nose guard Jacob Ogden on the starting front.
With Forte, Messinger and Holyfield returning for their senior seasons, the defensive line is projected as the strength of next year’s defense.
Free safety Will Fitzhugh moved into second place on the school’s all-time interceptions list with picks on back-to-back possessions in the third quarter. It was the 16th and 17th interceptions of his career, but No. 16 held a special significance.
With the Hornets driving on the opening series of the second half, Will Fitzhugh came down with a tipped pass over the middle, cut to his left, picked up a pair of downfield blocks along the left sideline and raced 91 yards the other way.
“The receiver tipped it, and it went right into my hands. The guys blocked for me, and everybody did their job,” Will Fitzhugh said during the postgame press conference. “That was my first pick-6. One of our freshmen (Landon Graves) had a pick-6, and had been talking trash ever since. I kept saying, ‘I’m gonna get me one,’ and today I finally did.”
Will Fitzhugh left his imprint all over the OCS record book, setting school records for all-purpose and kick return yards and ranking in the top 10 in numerous categories.
In one of the best all-around performances of his career (which is saying a lot), Will Fitzhugh threw a 29-yard touchdown pass, caught two passes for 104 yards and a score, recorded a team-high nine tackles to go with the two INTs, forced a fumble and recovered another.
Technically, Will Fitzhugh made his first trip to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome before he was born. In the words of coach Steven Fitzhugh, his wife, Janna, was “very pregnant with Will,” when the Eagles won the 1997 state championship.
Will worked his way through the ranks from ball boy to four-year starter. He couldn’t have asked for a better ending to his high school career.
“Our fan base and support system have been outstanding,” Will Fitzhugh said. “I can’t think of a better scenario than winning the state championship my senior year.”
Seen ’em all
Assistant coaches Tim Mosher and Micah Harper hold the distinction of being part of all seven of Ouachita Christian’s state championship teams.
Mosher played for the school’s first state championship team in 1985, and eventually returned to OCS in a coaching capacity.
Harper guided the Eagles to their second state title in 1997 before handing the reigns over to Steven Fitzhugh the following season. The school’s longtime athletic director and baseball coach, Harper also piloted OCS to multiple state championships on the diamond.
Sol Graves, currently a member of the OCS radio crew, was the quarterback for the 1985 team. Now an orthopedic surgeon specializing in sports medicine, Graves went on to play for LSU.
Another member of the 1985 side, Brandon Harrell, drove the team bus to Friday’s state championship game.