Leesville at Monroe Neville - 2Oct2020

The Neville Tigers hosted Leesville at Bill Ruple Stadium for their season opener for the COVID19 shortened 2020 season. 2Oct2020. Photo by TOM MORRIS/The Ouachita Citizen. c.2020.TomMorrisPhotos.com. All Rights Reserved

Former Westgate star Kayshon Boutte might be suiting up for the Tigers on Saturdays in 2020, but the No. 13 Westgate Tigers are still dangerous without their former 4-star athlete.

Just ask Neville head coach Jeff Tannehill.

“They were so athletic,” Tannehill said. “A normal year, they’d probably be a six or seven seed just with the full 10 games. They probably would have won three more games. So this would’ve been a quarterfinal matchup like last year. They’re a good football team.”  

Neville’s next playoff opponent won four straight games before losing to No. 1 seed Carencro, 31-23, in the regular season finale. Westgate defeated Assumption, 42-8, to earn a trip to Bill Ruple Stadium for the second year in a row.

Neville defeated Westgate, 26-24, in a dramatic, back-and-forth contest in 2019. Boutte may be gone, but quarterback Brennan Landry, who threw for 1,859 yards and 19 touchdowns with just four interceptions last season, returns.

“Their quarterback is really athletic,” Tannehill said. “He does a pretty good job throwing the ball, but he does a lot of his damage running. Their defense is fast. They fly to the football. Their quickness and speed is something I definitely remember about them last year.”

The No. 4 Neville Tigers did not allow any doubt Friday night. With a lightning fast start after a heavy rain-filled day, the Tigers cruised to a 50-0 victory against Peabody in the opening round of the playoffs.

“They had a young offensive line, and our defensive line got after them really good,” Tannehill said. “Coach (Benjy) Lewis had a great scheme to keep their quarterback under wraps. Our secondary covered really good last night, and Lane Blue and Henton Roberts had quite a few tackles spying on him.”

The first quarter turned out to be a disastrous one for the No. 29 Warhorses. Neville’s Griffin McGee recorded a pick six three minutes into the contest. A 31-yard Dexter Robinson grab set up a short Timothy Byrd score that gave the Tigers a 14-0 lead.

Later in the quarter, Maurion Eleam tackled Peabody’s back in the end zone for the safety. The Tigers actually had two safeties on the night, as Blue’s sack registered for the other. And on the ensuing play, Byrd returned the kickoff 56 yards for the touchdown. Just like that the Tigers led 24-0 in the first half.

An A.J. Allen 8-yard touchdown run, 14-yard Brett Batteford pass to Billquarrius Goodin and 34-yard field goal from William Read allowed the Tigers to take a 40-0 lead into halftime.

“We really played well in all three phases,” Tannehill said. “Defense had a couple safeties and a pick six, the offense did some good things and the kicking game did its job.”

Neville will host No. 13 Westgate in the second round Friday night.

Award-winning sports writer for columns and features since joining the field in 2013. As the first-ever featured columnist of the month at Bleacher Report, Martin cut his teeth with online media before joining the newspaper business in 2014.

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