Back in August, Ouachita Christian and Calvary Baptist met in Ruston for a preseason scrimmage. The stakes will be considerably higher when the fifth-ranked Eagles and fourth-ranked Cavaliers collide Friday night in Shreveport in the Division IV quarterfinals.
“I think it will be a great battle,” OCS coach Steven Fitzhugh predicted. “They’ve had a great year; we’ve had a great year.”
Coach Fitzhugh is correct on both counts. OCS brings a 10-1 record into the contest, while the Cavaliers sport an unblemished 11-0 mark.
Calvary’s only challenge came during a 37-25 Week 3 victory over Class 5A Byrd. Outscoring the opposition 588-87, the Cavaliers have compiled an average margin of victory of 45.5 points per game.
Quarterback Cade Hart and running back Isaiah Brown are the key components in Calvary’s balanced attack.
Hart has completed 119-of-169 passes for a 70.4 percent completion rate with 2,591 yards and 33 touchdowns. He was intercepted for the first time all season by James Mayronne in the second quarter of last week’s 52-12 first round playoff victory over St. Frederick.
“I saw where Cade Hart just went over 10,000 yards passing for his career,” Fitzhugh said. “Only four or five kids have done that.”
Brown has been equally prolific as an all-around threat.
“Isaiah Brown makes a lot of plays, whether it’s running, catching or on special teams,” coach Fitzhugh said.
Brown’s season numbers include 81 carries for 841 yards and 22 touchdowns, 17 receptions for 460 yards and 10 touchdowns (27.1 yards per catch), and eight kickoff returns for a 63.6-yard average. He broke an 85-yard kickoff return against St. Fred.
Calvary features four wide receivers with 20-plus catches — Mason Woodie (29 receptions, 612 yards, 5 touchdowns), Jordan Wallace (26-445-6), Kyelor Coburn (25-617-10) and Joseph Wilson (21-453-6).
With the offense averaging 53.4 points per game, Calvary’s defense has been overshadowed despite allowing only 7.9 ppg.
“Everybody talks about their offense a lot, but their defense is solid,” Fitzhugh said. “They have two Division I corners, and their defensive line is really good.”
Eric Reed Jr. (23 tackles, 4 forced fumbles) has verbally committed to Ole Miss, while fellow cornerback Tanner Hooker (18 tackles, 2 interceptions) has pledged to Kansas.
Among Calvary’s remaining defensive mainstays are end Denham Smith (38 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, 7 sacks), linebacker Dustin Lang (43 tackles, 10 TFL, 2 sacks), strong safety Jeremiah Brown (27 tackles, 4 INTs) and free safety Cameron Thomas (55 tackles, 8 TFL, 2 INTs).
OCS has put up some gaudy numbers in its own right. Averaging 44.2 ppg, the Eagles have outscored their foes by a collective margin of 486-126.
“Hunter Herring and our offensive line have been playing well,” coach Fitzhugh said. “We need to keep clicking on all cylinders offensively.”
Herring has connected on 82-of-160 passes for 1,330 yards and 21 touchdowns while throwing only three picks. The junior ULM baseball commit has also rushed 68 times for 552 yards and 13 scores.
Will Fitzhugh (84 carries, 758 yards, 8 TDs) and Dillon Dougan (64-629-12) form a solid backfield tandem.
Herring’s primary targets are Tristan Wiley (25 receptions, 549 yards, 6 TDs), Eli Extine (24-311-4) and Will Fitzhugh (23-419-8).
OCS has thrived on causing turnovers while protecting the football. It has all added up to a plus-27 turnover margin with 34 takeaways and only seven giveaways.
“Our defense has been able to create turnovers all year,” coach Fitzhugh said. “This is going to be one of those ballgames where turnovers, penalties and special teams make a difference.”
Helping set the tone for the Eagles defensively are linebackers Kade Woods (38 tackles, 10 TFL, 3 forced fumbles) and Grant Mashaw (62 tackles, 12 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 3 FF), cornerback Landon Graves (20 tackles, 4 interceptions) and strong safety Aidan Ham (43 tackles, 4 TFL, 2 FF).
Looking ahead to the semifinals, the OCS-Calvary winner will be matched against the No. 8 Metairie Park Country Day-No. 1 Vermilion Catholic victor.
RG—James David Miller
FB—Van David Matherne
LB—Jon Thomas Dixon
OCS Special Teams
DS—John Daniel Thomas
Calvary Baptist Offense
Calvary Baptist Defense
CB—Eric Reed Jr.
Calvary Baptist Specialists
K—Cade Clement/Thomas Murray